Black is a fine color for a cocktail dress. Let me get that out of the way first. I am not besmirching the choices of anyone who prefers to ride the LBD train from the first party stop all the way into the last drunken late night holiday soiree station. You do you, black dress lovers! I bear you no grudge.
For me, however, the little black dress, no matter how emphatically perfect, loses some of its appeal when the vast majority of what is available to me takes LBD form. I don’t enjoy landing on a certain style only because of a lack of other options, and this is often what it’s like to shop for a plus-size cocktail dress. It’s a lot of black. Sometimes the black is lacy and has shiny stuff stuck to it, but it’s still black.
Let’s be real: there’s a reason for this. It is thoroughly known to well-meaning aunts and weirdly invasive department store salesladies alike that black is thought to be slimming. And slimming is VERY IMPORTANT, culturally speaking. Culture warns us of the devastating consequences of not being semi-invisible. Heaven forfend your body should look like it actually does -- you need a void of color to trick everyone, thereby avoiding the unforgivable offense of making people actually see you fatting around like you think you’re people.
When I wear black -- as I often do -- I always have this in the back of my head. I don’t actually want to be invisible. This is why books like that “Dress Skinny” mess a few weeks ago make me want to write things entitled “Dress To Accentuate The Fact That You Weigh The Number Of Pounds You Actually Weigh And You Look Very Nice That Way.”
Point being, you don’t need help finding plus size black dresses to fit.
What you need is help finding plus size dresses to fit in COLOR.
ASOS is calling this a “skater dress” which officially means I no longer understand what “skater dress” means, as I had thought it meant a garment that was fitted on top and with a flowy skirt, like an ice skater’s costume. Which this is clearly not, as it is lacking in even a suggestion of a waistline.
Turns out I was wrong, and “skater dress” is actually a reference to Mavis P. Skater, the courageous suffragist and women’s rights activist who dared to wear a dress above the knee to a music hall in 1897 Philadelphia, and who was severely injured when bystanders pelted her with cabbage. She survived, but with a lifelong fear of brassicas, and all we have left of her is this confusing dress description.
I just made that up. I guess “skater dress” means any dress now.
Anyway, a surprising number of party-friendly options out there this year are very 1924 Downton-y, just shorter. Wear this teal frock and remember Mavis’ fictional sacrifice.
ROSE VELOUR. What does ROSE VELOUR say to you? Other than it’d be a really great burlesque stage name, it says to me that I AM A HOT BITCH WHO WANTS TO WEAR A DRESS TO YOUR PARTY MADE OUT OF A FABRIC THAT IS PROBABLY ALSO BEING USED FOR GRANDMA PAJAMAS, AND I DARE YOU TO JUDGE ME.
It comes complete with peekaboo cleav-hole, because what is a holiday party without boobs? Think of how comfort-sexy you’ll be, ensconced so.
(This style also comes in orange lace, and if that doesn’t appeal to you then I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.)
Ahoy, mermaid fantasists! Here is thy fishy gown! (Sha la la la la la la!)
Pink can be holiday appropriate, can’t it? I don’t know, I don’t follow your rules. Bonus: This is made of that scuba fabric so popular last season, so I’m guessing if someone spills a drink on you, you won’t even feel it.
They’ll really call you “statuesque” when you turn up at the party wearing the Chrysler Building! That’s me trying to write like a fashion person. Sadly, I will probably never work for a fashion outlet. Still, it takes a certain amount of confidence for a plus-sized person to wear a skyscraper. Consider this my body-image challenge to you.
Red is a natural choice for the holidays, but you should make that decision from a fully informed perspective. For example, did you know that the “red dress effect” is actually a thing? I realize that by making shit up all the time, I put myself in a position of not being believed even when I am telling the truth, so here, it even has a Wikipedia page.
The red dress effect is a phenomenon in which men are rendered markedly stupider in the presence of a woman in a red dress. No, sorry, what I mean is that men find that woman more sexually appealing. This effect has been reinforced by numerous studies and experiments, and is thought to be connected to red-toned fertility signifiers, both biological and cultural.
More than that, another study just this summer found that women read other women in red as a “sexual threat” and also as “promiscuous” and “sexually receptive,” leading the authors to conclude that red leads women to see other women more negatively.
So maybe plan your holiday red-wearing accordingly. Or at least keep your distance from your boss’ husband at the work party, just in case.
Besides being useful for abstract cosplaying as THE NIGHT SKY, this is the ultimate in lazy holiday dressing. It's basically a sparkly nightgown. You won’t even feel compelled to lock blades in tempestuous battle with your Spanx, if Spanx is a thing you do. No matter how much you eat or drink, you’ll be able to breathe comfortably and still look as festive as a giant sentient clump of tinsel.
Conceived in teal velvet-flocked taffeta, this is a lot of dress. I had actually ordered this one myself a couple months ago to possibly wear to a wedding, and when I put the product image on Instagram, folks were all, “Lesley, that is a lot of dress,” and I naturally thought “WELL LUCKILY I AM A LOT OF DRESS-WEARING BODY.”
But they were right. It is a huge volume of dress. It is a dress that smacks viewers across the face with its dress-ness. It is a dress that will fight you and win if you don't put your whole faith and confidence into The Dress. Definitely too much for the wedding I’d intended it for, although possibly the right amount for a party where you want everyone to look at you a lot, and possibly even have a difficult time looking away.
So, what are you wearing to your parties this year? It's OK if it's black. Seriously.