A “hostess gown” is described by the website Vintage Fashion Guild as “a dressy full length garment for [home] entertaining, but not as formal as evening wear. Other than the full length, the lines followed current fashion.” The style was most popular from the 1930s to the 1970s, according to the site. In a December 2011 article on the hostess gown, the New York Times explained, “The idea was to balance one’s respect for and command of the occasion with the right to sprawl comfortably in one’s living room on oversize lounging cushions, perhaps leaping up from time to time to rearrange the cheese straws.”
I don’t do much home entertaining due to the size of my apartment and my complete lack of interest in cooking, cleaning and anything else domestic. Besides, there are so many great restaurants in New York! But, even when hosting people at a restaurant dinner — especially on New Year’s Eve — I keep in mind the issues raised by Refinery 29’s 2012 post on hostess gowns:
“When playing hostess for even the most casual of get-togethers, all eyes are on you. And like it or not, your sartorial choice sets the tone of the evening — it’s a barometer against which all of your guests’ fashions will be judged, too.
However, Refinery 29 went on to say:
“You want to look great, maybe make a style statement, but at the same time not dress to outshine your invitees (or make anyone feel badly who might be, ahem, a tad underwhelming).”
I sort of disagree with that. I still wouldn’t say I dress to “outshine” my guests, but I’m willing to out-silly them. Hosting gives me a chance to get out my more ridiculous or over-the-top clothes — things that I have limited opportunities to wear otherwise. If you’ve been reading me for a long time, you know that my blog’s motto from 2007 to 2012 was “Wear What You Want,” but I always said that personal-style philosophy didn’t apply to every occasion. One of my favorite examples of “there’s a time and a place for everything, and this isn’t the time or the place” came from my days working at CNN, when an intern showed up for her first day there in a skin-tight, backless white halter dress. NO! BAD INTERN! I’m older and wiser than an intern, obviously, so I don’t wear my flashiest pieces to conservative offices or other people’s intimate gatherings. I don’t throw on my VIP dress by Moschino when someone invites me over to her house for casual cocktails.
When MrB and I dine out with friends, I don’t show up in a vintage gown printed with large dollar bills. That’s something I save for an outing with fashion bloggers.
But when it’s my own event, I don’t worry about keeping it toned down, nor do I judge what other people wear as long as they don’t look like they’re coming off a three-day meth binge. So, while trying to decide what to wear to my New Year’s Eve dinner for 14 friends at Balthazar last night, I tried on a trompe l’oeil vintage dress that I’ve been a little scared of ever since I got it sometime in the past year. It makes me look like a sex-ay, hot-pink, unlaced sneaker. I modeled it for MrB and asked, “Is this too much?” forgetting that nothing is ever too tight, too short or too low-cut for the average straight dude. Of course, he said, “NO IT IS NOT TOO MUCH OMG LOL WUT!” but in a more civilized, MrB-like way. I’m translating what he said for the Internet generation. I was still dubious, but decided that it’s my party, and I can look like a sex-ay, hot-pink, unlaced sneaker if I want to, so I went with it.
I sent a photo of the dress to superstar hairstylist Julie Matos (now at the chic Warren-Tricomi salon in the Plaza). She started thinking glam late ’70s/early ’80s style — taking inspiration from designer Yves Saint Laurent and photographers Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin — with a touch of ’60s Warhol Factory Superstar Viva.
After she curled and teased half my hair, she sent me off to superstar makeup artist Tennille Nielsen at Kimara Ahnert with instructions to request dramatic makeup. As Tennille terrified the rest of the nude-lip-glossed clientele by adding layers and layers of hot-pink shadow to my eyes, I asked her, “So, do you think this is age-appropriate?” She said, “Totally!”
By the end of the evening, I was wondering why I’d been so nervous to wear the dress. I think “escapee from Donna Summer’s Bad Girls album art” is THE hot look for 40-something women.
Here are all the outfit deets.
What Wendy Wore for New Year’s Eve
Dress: Christian Francis Roth from 1992 (purchased online in 2011 or 2012, altered by Ghost Tailor)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Jewelry: My own designs including one heart stud earring, one U stud earring and one Cleopatra earring.
Hair: Julie Matos
Makeup: Tennille Nielsen
Balthazar always has a great New Year’s Eve scene, and it was further enlivened this year by a conga line dancing along to PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” That needs to become a tradition. But the best thing was to be surrounded by friends …
… family …
… and, if you’re like my friend Jesse, a harem.
Hope you all had a good one too!
UPDATED TO ADD: I added this link to the “Visible Monday” post at Not Dead Yet Style. Click to check out all the other bloggers’ looks there.
Susan Partlan says
You are fast one! I was just checking out that Kat Dahlia song, came back to comment, and here you are again with a new post!
That sneaker dress is great! And I love all of the festive photos. Everyone looks so happy :).
Happy New Year to you and your loved ones Wendy. xoxo
Happy new year to you and the family too! Keep up the great writing. Maybe some of your financial wisdom will rub off on me 😉
Happy new year, you just look younger and younger! Fab look, you look utterly fantastic and beautiful. Love to you and MrB from London ( and of course love to Henry, Gigi and Fitzroy) Samantha xxxx
You are too sweet. Any chance of you visiting us in NYC? All the animals are waiting to meet you!
Hi, Yes I will come and see you all this year for sure. I just have to get a good dog sitter sorted. xxxxx
OMG LOL WUT! You look freakin’ fabulous!
Totally age-appropriate. And clearly MrB lives by the motto, “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”
Thank you for starting the new year in such an inspirational way.
Ha ha! Thanks for reminding me of that motto. Shame on me for not using it in the post, but you rescued me!
Happy new year to you!
Megan Mae says
WOWZA I knew there had to be an amazing outfit to go with that hair and make up that you tweeted! While I am a little worried for you freezing yourself with that outdoor photo – you do really look smashing!
The outdoor “studio” is brutal in the winter! Brrrrrrrr.
Thank you for the kind words and I hope your NYE was great! Gonna have a nice little stud earring for you to show off with that cool haircut very soon!
When I saw your Facebook photos, I knew this post would arrive. Thanks, WendyB! Like I’ve already said, you look splendid, as does your wonderful MrB.
Thank you, Lynette, and thanks again for doing your post about Mama recently. I was glad to see her cute face again.
Omg wut wut! Happy new year Wendy, you hot minx!
To you too!
That dress is FANTASTIC! (As is that motto :-))
Thanks! I don’t know why I was so scared of it.
Patti @ NotDeadYet Style says
wow, the sneaker dress is my new favorite WendyB party dress ever, sooooo smoking. And the hair, OMG SO GOOD. Thanks for sharing the joy with Visible Monday.
I definitely felt visible!
Practical Paralegalism says
What great photos, so much fun and energy, including in your dress. And Mr.B looks sooooooo happy with his sexy lady 🙂
He better be happy! LOL.
EVERYTHING about your outfit, hair, makeup… was PERFECT last night. I hated to be photographed next to you, you looked so great!! Just gorgeous.
What a fun evening, I was so happy to be a part of it.
You were as beauteous as always!
You looked BEAUTIFUL as always!!! You know how I love, love LOVE pink!!! You wear it well!!!!!
Happy New Year to you!! Am looking forward to another year of your unique & awesome jewelry!! (and of course, your posts & pix)
Thanks, Tammie. Happy New Year to you too!
Faux Fuchsia says
Luff seeing what you wear on NYE! You’ve got the figure for it so why not? LUFF the eye shadow.
Happy New Year x
Wendy, you look absolutely adorable and fun. A sense of humor is like a cash gift–always appropriate! BTW, whatever happened to Christian Francis Roth? You were his BFF then he was persona non grata. I still want that multiplaid blazer if one in a size 10 exists somewhere. Anyway, thank you for being you, for having a legible captcha, and for sharing your NYE. Happy new year to you an yours!
Happy New Year to you too!
I’m out of the loop when it comes to CFR 🙂
While you look fabulous as always, I must say that I am intrigued with MrB’s tie!!!
I got that tie for him a while ago! 😀
I like getting him Pucci ties.
déjà pseu says
Wendy, you look amazing. Totally NYE-Party-Ready!!!
And I’m so IDGAF about age-appropriate dressing!
déjà pseu says
LOL! STFU. 😀
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
Hot pink? What were you thinking? And on a woman of your age, my, my. You were supposed to do a “natural” look for makeup with a poo brown dress, and ballet flats to match of course.
Haha you know I’m joking, especially since I dyed half my head pink last night! I LOVE that dress, and your hair and makeup just made the look even better! XXX
I wanna see your pink hair!
fantastic outfit!love the hair! looks like a great NYE! Happy New Year!
It WAS a fun night! Happy New Year to you too!
Holy shit, Wendy, you look freaking awesome! I love that dress – when I saw the first pic of you and Mr. B, I immediately assumed, you’d pulled his hands off your boobs for the pic (heh heh, admit it, Mr. B!).
Stunning dress! And love the make-up and hair!
Happy New Year to you both, and your furry fam, Wendy!
LOL….no boob-touching allowed at Balthazar!
Happy New Year to you too!
Hi my dear!! wow, you look stunning-the dress is so sex-ay and totally looks amazing with your gorgeous hair, loving the earrings too- a very hot look to see in 2013! Happy New Year to you and MrB xx
Happy New Year to you and your family!
sulky kitten says
LOVE that dress on you – and the hair and make-up are perfect. You look amazing. No wonder Mr B always looks so happy! Happy New Year to you both and your furballs.
Happy New Year, Sulky!
You look wonderful. Love your pink dress, and those pictures are so fab. Looks like you had a wonderful time.
It was an unusually good night. Hopefully a good omen for 2013! Fingers crossed.
Oh yeaaah! Slap me! That is spectacular. LOL re your sneaker metaphor – and your translation of Mr. B’s reaction. The perfect look and attitude to set the tone for a fantastic new year ahead.
Whenever I ask MrB “Is this too tight?” or something I realize I am wasting my breath…
Pearl Westwood says
As we say in Manchester, you’re an absolute fitso. You have the best selection of frocks Ive ever seen! x
I’ve never been called a fitso before. Woot!
Terri Berry says
WOW! Gorgeous! Sex-ay! Amazing!
OMG OMG you look so great!! I love it all but mostly the hair and makeup, it’s fun and so different. You look great. I noticed its your new avatar pic on Twitter and before reading this post wasn’t even sure it was you. Love it !!
BTW Happy New Year
It’s definitely a different look for me, but I loved it!
Be Inspired! says
I love parties but lack interest in anything domestic, as well;) That VIP dress… wow! Or this New Year’s, second wow! You and your Sweets look so cute.
Reallyy too bad we couldn’t meet… I have to come back, I do I do. Or would you like to come up to Quebec City and stay at my place?
So sorry I missed you! Please do come back! I’ll let you know if I come up North 🙂
God, I love hot pink eyeshadow. You look gorgeous!
I didn’t think that color was going to work, but it did!
I just spent an unreasonable amount of time staring at your cleavage, trying to figure out exactly how that dress is put together… at least that is my excuse. You looked hot!
You look STUNNING! As usual! LOVE the glamazon look! And Mr B. looks SO HAPPY…what a beautiful couple! Glad you had fun…I wouldn’t expect you to ring in the new year with any less sass and style! Here’s to 2013!