Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The found dress

It came from Goodwill in the harried days — hours, if I’m going to be honest — leading up to the Arts Council’s fundraiser ball. The theme of the ball was red (“the red ball” — that got lots of mileage) but I didn’t think I looked good in red (I’ve since changed my mind) and decided to play it safe in a black dress paired with a red feather boa. The dress was chosen hastily from the racks of the thriftshop, where it hung among a slew of floral pattered perfect-for-church dresses in an array of synthetic fabrics.

This dress is a prize. The needle in the haystack. I suspect it’s synthetic (like its Goodwill rack mates), though the tag (and thus the manufacturer) are long gone. It’s likely a poly-blend knit, fabricated like a thin sweater dress and styled like a long sheath given shape only by its body-hugging drape. It’s a bit of an anomaly: When has a sweater dress ever been eveningwear, let alone glamorous?

This might be the rare garment that crosses over, and its ability to do so is thanks to two fairly minor design features: 1) an inconspicuous but oh-so-important silver thread is woven into the knit, lending sparkle subtle as a wink. And 2) it’s held up by four delicate straps that create visual interest by crossing in the back.

I found the dress again last week while trying to throw together (again, last minute) an Oscar party look. I’d decided on a rather garish silver and black Betsey Johnson cocktail dress when, reaching into the recesses of my closet, my hand grazed the knit gown. Same color scheme, totally different effect. It turned out to be the perfect dress for the event.

Not sure that celebs will follow my lead and start wearing sparkly knits on the red carpet, but if it happens, remember you read it here first.

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