I Went to Forever XXI So You Don't Have To

After spending nearly two hours scouring the nearly twenty thousand square foot Forever XXI i came out with three outfits. That's a win in the world of bargain basement style.
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Publish date:
November 28, 2011
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Forever XXI, holiday dresses

If you're like me, that is to say wildly popular (in your head), then you've received no less than half a dozen festooned emails in the past 72 hours. The first thing people want to do after they've come out of a turkey coma isn't take a chill pill, it's plan a party.

In Washington (and perhaps any place with people) the holiday party season, previously referred to as the unPC "Christmas party" season, is just that -- a season. It's a particular time of year characterized by one particular activity -- drinking.

Remember advent calendars? Well, I've got a friend who puts together something similar but minus the cotton snow balls and felt Santas. It's an excel spreadsheet of every holiday open bar happening in the city on any given workday. And the fun starts next week. So that means dressing the part.

I've got a cache of cocktail numbers for occasions such as these but just like how there's always room for cheap champagne, there's always room for a cheap frock. Especially in the District of Columbia, which is Latin for small town. I'll be seeing the same people over and over again for the next 31 days and nobody'll be too drunk to notice I wore the same Zara dress three free buffets in a row.

Forever XXI to the rescue!

Now before you get all polyester-ist on me. I'm pretty sure Forever XXI is every grown woman's lunchtime secret. As long as you stay away from anything with ruching, metallics, cut-outs, lace trim or the sheer family, I think anyone can pull off a look that says "I'm on trend" and not "I'm worth 20 bucks."

This is my waiter meets lounge singer ensemble. The white tuxedo jacket with shiny black lapels is $30 dollars. This $25 dollar gold sequin knee-length "skirt" is actually a totally age inapropriate dress that I managed to zip up my butt and wear like a grown woman. Normally I tend to shy away from sequin but nothing says Jesus' birthday like sparkle.

You want to invite me to your wedding. Seriously. I'll get things started on the dance floor and I won't leave until someone pries the bouqet from my cold dead hands. That said, this $25 Mad Men-esque party dress has all the forward motion I need to get my twirl on. I'd pair it with a really fun bib necklace and cocktail ring.

This is one of those workhorse type dresses. It's so simple and clean you can wear it a bunch of times and not even the Three Wisemen would be the wiser. As a bonus, the jewel tone is great for the one time of year working professionals let ROY G. BIV come visit for a while. Despite all it's effortless cool this dress does feature one of the things I hate most about thrifty threads -- the back tie.

Nothing says Winter Formal '95 like an attached "belt." Ugh. I hate seeing grown women in outfits better suited for flower girls. But I don't mind DIYing a dress I've only shelled out $23 clams for, so why not snip off the back ties or sew them directly onto the waist and fix on a matching brooch? Trust me your self respect will thank you later.

What's a great recession-friendly outfit without recession-friendly costume jewelry? Again the name of the game is to be cheap not look cheap. So I steer clear of "diamonds" and always make sure to pick the pieces that look more fake estate sale then side of the road.

After spending nearly two hours scouring the nearly twenty thousand square foot Forever XXI I came out with three outfits. That's a win in the world of bargain basement style according to me. And I'll probably do it all again next week because there's always room for rayon.