Help! I need a fancy dress (cheap)!

“But… I have nothing to wear!”

It was one of those happy-but-panicked moments that come along in a busy mom’s life.

Because Today’s Parent is the Angel Presenting Sponsor for the event (called The Giver), being held at a totally hip east-end Toronto venue tonight, staff (the first six to say “yes, please!”) were offered free tickets. Worth $100 each, the passes included an open bar, copious hors d’oeuvres and the chance to attend a glamorous, grown up and, above all, kid-free event. With our friend Lindsay generously agreeing to babysit, Matt and I were all set.

So it seemed, anyway, until I watched the video highlights from last year’s event. O. Mg. While the men seem to be getting away with sport coats and dress pants, or suits, and ties, the women are dressed to the nines. Even beyond. Isobel might say they’re dressed to the tens.

There is nooo way my high necked polyester LBD, which seemed so chic at various work events last year (purchased from Zara for about $60), was gonna hold up against all that cleavage.

I told Matt yesterday, “I think I might stop in at H&M. They’ve been advertising holiday dresses for $34.99. Maybe I’ll find something that will double for a dress-up work function.”

Did I find a dress? Did I find a dress! I sent Matt a picture of it before purchasing (and the final decision to purchase was made by his comment: “Hot! Get it!”).

Best of all, it was only $29.95. Check it out, and let me know what you think. (I actually worry that it may be a little too much….)

The gals at the office also approved. “You could even wear it with pants,” commented Alex. And it’s true — I didn’t feel like taking everything off when I tried on the dress (it’s actually strapless — the loops you see in the photo are for putting it on a hanger), so I left on my black skinny jeans.

I’m a pretty practical dresser (lots of black and grey in my wardrobe), but even I have to say that it’s fun to have a fancy dress, especially when it’s as inexpensive as the selection at H&M. And if it’s out of style in a year or two? No biggie. I’ll pass it down to the girls for dress-up. Heaven knows, some of those princess dresses cost a heck of a lot more than $30.

It also occurred to me that a fancy event like The Giver might be just the occasion I’ve been waiting for, over the last 10 years, to wear my wedding dress again. It’s not a wedding dress per se, just a nice, champagne-coloured, full-length gown I found on sale for $198 and fell in love with. Have a look:

It isn’t too late for me to return my H&M find (the chain has a really good return policy — designed very openly to encourage shoppers to “buy first, decide later” as the sign in the store directs). What do you think — which dress is better suited to the event?

I’m also curious: Have you ever worn your wedding dress again? Could you?

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