Thursday, July 2, 2009

My favorite thing about our RWNZ conferences!

Katie's "Things A Girl Should Have" post and her photos of her gorgeous dresses got me thinking about evening wear.

Back in my younger days, I had loads of flash evening clothes. I was a SINKie (Single Income, No Kids), I worked in a bank and I was teaching Ceroc dance, so there were plenty of excuses to buy expensive evening dresses: the annual bank balls, the annual Ceroc dance ball, the airforce ball (I was dating an RNZAF pilot), Christmas functions etc. And I thought nothing about spending up large. Ah, those were the days!

After I married my RNZAF pilot, he left the airforce and became self-employed. He's now a computer consultant--you may have come across me referring to him as CDWDMW, Clever Dude Who Designed My Website. We had a few years as DINKies (Double Income, No Kids) where we didn't have to worry about money too much, and then we did the whole mortgage and kids thing. And although I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home to look after my babies, money was tight. Aside from the cost of tickets to those balls, there were taxis and babysitters, and no way could I justify spending heaps of money on a dress I'd only wear maybe once or twice. For many years, as parents with young kids, our idea of a special night has been a DVD, a bottle of wine and a jumbo bar of chocolate--not that there's anything wrong with that....depending on the choice of DVD, of course ;-)

As a contractor, my husband doesn't get invited to work functions. As a full-time writer, neither do I. And although there's been a few memorable Halloween parties where we've gone all out and hired costumes, our days of getting dressed up to the nines have long passed.

Or at least, until I joined RWNZ.

We may be a small organisation, but we love to dress up. We have the Friday night cocktail party and the Saturday night awards dinner. Both of these functions have themes and everyone gets right into the whole chance to dress up to a specific theme.

So since 2004, when I joined up and attended my first RWNZ conference, part of the thrill when conference time looms, is haunting the shops for bargains to wear to the evening functions. I can't always afford to buy a dress to adhere to a theme but there's always the joy of accessorizing!

Here's some of my favorite bargains:

These were for a "pink" conference theme--I can't actually remember exactly what the theme was, just that it revolved around the color pink. No way was I gonna buy a pink dress, but pink accessories were a whole 'nother matter ;-). Match them with a flirty black cocktail dress I already owned and voila, pretty in pink.

I still love these shoes - they're a truly delicious raspberry pink! And the boa's had a few outings since then, too. I mean, who can resist a feather boa?

Just incidentally, the feather boa was the most expensive item of those pictured, coming in at $40. Shoes were on sale at $20, which is hard to believe because they ARE leather. And the bags are actually cosmetic bags which cost me $15 for the two. Result? One very happy husband, LOL.

At the 2006 RWNZ conference Awards Dinner, the theme was "Wild At Heart!" Cue a shopping expedition for animal prints...which again, weren't exactly in fashion at that time.

The top and the bag were bought from an up-market pre-loved clothing boutique. I paired the top with a long black velvet skirt that I already owned, & black heels. The stuffed leopard was bought as a joke accessory and ended up being our table's mascot for the evening.

It was a really memorable night because I knew I'd won The Clendon Award but hadn't been allowed to tell anyone before the announcement at the awards dinner that evening. Boy, did we go wild, LOL.

One year we had a theme of "Blue Moon" and I remember combing the stores wondering what the heck to wear because blue wasn't exactly an "in" color that year. To my amazement, I managed to score a brand new, full-length, sparkly blue cocktail gown with a halter neck, for the princely sum of $35. It's fully lined, really beautifully made and to this day, I have no idea why it was so heavily discounted. I also bought a pair of black stilettos which were on sale for $40.

Being the evil female that I am, I laid the dress and shoes out on the bed and waited for my husband to get home. He blanched when he saw them and I could see him mentally calculating the cost. He knows I'm not one to splash out without checking the bank balance first, but an evening dress AND shoes? Yikes!

"Guess what these cost!" I gloated.

He made a few half-hearted attempts and when I told him the shoes actually cost more than the dress, he didn't know what the hell to think! I put him out of his misery and showed him the price tags and his jaw dropped. Result, one ecstatic and very grateful husband...

...who of course, didn't mind too much when I thought silver accessories might go better with the dress. Hence silver shoes (on sale at a deleted lines outlet store for $20) and a silver handbag from a pre-loved clothing boutique. And I love the bag because of the clever adjustable handle which takes it from handbag to shoulderbag, so it gets used often.

I ended up wearing the black stilettos with the dress, BTW. Still haven't worn the shiny silver ones, but I'm ever hopeful.

So for me, one of the best aspects of writing conferences, is the chance to dress up.

And no matter whether you splash out on a new dress, go budget with a pre-loved outfit, wear an old favorite and vamp it up with new accessories, I reckon it's all worth it in the end because the memories are priceless!




Katie Reus said...

I'm the queen of budget shopping! Even though I don't wear it often (I live in FL) my favorite find is a Cole Haan coat I got for 90% off. It's long, red and gorgeous. Sometimes I just open my closet to look at it ;)

Liane Gentry Skye said...

OMG, I LOVE boas, and have never had the nerve to actually wear one. But what fun!

I'm a bargain girl, too. When I go home to SC, it's outlet time for me. I just can't justify spending full price for my conference/event clothing when I wear it so seldom.

And something about striking a great deal on a fab piece makes it all that more precious to wear.

But I need me a fabulous boa. Oh yes, I do.

Dara Edmondson said...

DH calls me the Shopping Ninja! Actually, I've gone pro and have been a Mystery Shopper for several years now. Great way to find bargains;-)
Liane - BTW - feather boas rule at Fairvilla. (nod, nod, wink, wink)

Maree Anderson said...

Katie - I want your red coat! Pictures please....

Liane - and talking of pictures, expecting some serious boa-action from you in the near future. Shall I warn your husband? ;-)

Dara - A fellow Shopping Ninja at last! I thought we were a dying breed, LOL. Husband says he's never come across another woman who will walk into a shop, walk quickly up one side, down the other and walk out because there's nothing there that she wants. He thinks it's an amazing quirk, whereas it really is just lots and lots and lots of experience, LOL!

Tambra said...

I adore resale, garage sale and 70% off plus at Palais Royal. I snagged a tote bag: regular price 48 (I think) with 70% off plus another 20% anyway, I ended up paying $11.70 for this lovely tote bag.

My best deal: A floor length velour halter dress with rhinestone design on the front: regular $50. Sale price I paid: $3.50 then I found a pair gently worn black slides for $2.00.

Yay, I've found wild women after my own heart. I so love a great deal.



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