Literary Debutante Ball Fashion Advice III- Dress Harder

Me in my platform dress (actual size).

Why hello, One Story Debutante Ball attendees!  I was re-potting this heirloom tulip and didn’t see you there!  Allow me to remove my fingerless gardening gloves and we will sit and chat at my table made of box car remnants.

I am overjoyed to act as your fashion mentor again this year.  What a year it’s been, especially for women!  The Vida numbers came out, assuring women that even if they can get a novel published, The New York Times won’t review it. Women’s unmentionables were discussed in national arenas, I would talk about it however it is unmentionable. Not a moment too soon, New York  instituted two 24-hour cupcake-dispensing machines that made leaving this city completely unnecessary. Winter didn’t interest us so we skipped it.  Everyone on earth felt pain, made excuses, lost loved ones and, without exception, got older.

Most adorably this year, the word “curate” became the hottest verb going, moving from museum pamphlets to the national stage.  Editors no longer edit, they curate!  Website editors no longer post content, they curate!  Isn’t it amazing when we use a different word to make our jobs sound more alluring?  I was chatting about it with my Sandwich Artist the other day while he curated my turkey footlong.  “The world is getting more elegant,” he said.  “Keep your eye on what is truly important.  Mayo?” he said.

He’s right, of course.  And as I stated in my first fashion advice column, and in last year’s brilliant sequel, there is nothing more important than fashion.  Nothing.  Seriously, nothing. So this year allow me to curate your dress.

Let us begin with the rules!

The first rule of One Story’s Literary Debutante Ball is you don’t talk about One Story’s Literary Debutante Ball.

For obvious reasons, there are no other rules.

As was true last year, and the year before that, there is no dress code for the ball. Suits with converse sneakers, suits made out of converse sneakers—all good. Dresses of the sun, maxi or cocktail variety—yes! Mu-mus: yes-yes. A floral vintage wedding dress?—YOU DO. A sequined tie—my my!  A bold cravate—show us what you’ve got! A belt of bike horns?—honk, because you are awesome. A mink tuxedo offset by a cheetah stole?—that’s totally fucked up.  Absolutely no.

This is One Story’s tenth anniversary, so be daring, whimsical, strive to elicit this response from passers by—dear god, what was that?!

When in doubt—dress like Nancy Drew.  #2 Pencil skirt, thin turtleneck, plaid pashmina and a giant magnifying glass.  That’s been my motto for 34 years and I’ve been able to correctly identify the secret passages at every party I’ve ever attended.

This year I am wearing something so special it will outdo my Swiss cheese costume of Year One, and my dress made out of casino napkins from Year Two.  I have been accused of not being active enough in social media, preferring to keep my private life and thoughts, well, private.  I have been accused of this by my mother, who called last week to curate my life.  “Be self-promotional,” she said, “like those annoying nags everyone loathes who post and email about nothing but themselves.”  Like my sandwich artist, my mother is always right.  So at this year’s ball I will be dressed as a platform.  On that platform will be the details of my book coming out in the Fall with a live stream of every thought I’ve ever had about politics or being a woman.  In advance: sorry for hitting you in the face as I walk by.

Finally and most importantly, have fun at this year’s gala, and don’t forget to stop by the silent auction where once again extraordinary works of art will be, ahem, (what’s the word?), posted by Helen Ellis. Give them an early look here.

If you’re still struggling with what to wear, let the words of these famous people guide you:

“When in doubt, wear red.” – Bill Blass

“Bravery never goes out of fashion.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

“I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding what clothes to wear.” – Katherine Hepburn

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

“I can’t concentrate in flats!” – Victoria Beckham

“Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.” – Rue McClanahan

“I’d rather go naked than wear fur.” – Me

“Ma’am, you have to put clothes on or we will call the police.” – the guards at The New York Public Library

“Every woman should be her own chaperone.” – Amy Vanderbilt, Success Program for Women

“Just once, I want a weekend when you don’t call me to get you out of jail.” – Martin, my Sandwich Artist

“I’ll wire the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers and give them the number stamped on the bird’s leg ring.”  – Nancy Drew, Password to Larkspur Lane

“Without a doubt and yes, always: mayo.” – Me

P.S. I want to thank those of you who sent such thoughtful cards, emails and flowers to congratulate my turtles Leonardo and Turtlerino Bertino on their nuptials last year. I am happy to report their first year of marriage has been a blissful, albeit slow-moving one. Recently they adopted what they think is an underfed owl I don’t have the heart to tell them is a non-dairy creamer.  Regardless, they are happy and wish to say thank you for the kind notes and emails.

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