Friday, November 11, 2011

Pleez help me dress myself for my engagement photos

Dear ESB,

The FW and I are getting engagement pictures taken on the 17th (of November, eeeeee) and I am desperately needing your help to dress myself.

I recently lost 25 lbs and the only things in my closet that fit me properly are yoga pants and horribly boring work clothes. My fiance has incredible style and has lots to choose from. I am worried about looking like a schlump, but I cannot. find. anything. I thought I would figure something out, however after leaving a baker's dozen stores empty handed I might have to show up in a grey sweater set and yoga pants. I am a size 12-14, so I am in the predicament of still being too big for a lot of standard women's design and too small for plus size.

I am 5'5, and I have dark hair, very light skin, glasses, and a large chest and bum. I am open to patterns and color and really anything that will keep me from looking like a sloppy snoozefest. I would love a cute dress and or shirt/skirt combo. I am also open to shoe and accessory suggestions if you or any of your readers have them! My budget for the clothes is around $100 and the shoe budget is around $50. I know you have cooler and more artistic things to do--I would be deeply grateful if you could help a girl out.


I'm not generally a fan of engagement photos, but you seem so sweet....

This Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique Faux Wrap Jersey Dress got a thumbs-up from H.

And then any chance you wear a 38 or 39.5 shoe? These haircalf (that's what I said, HAIRCALF) pumps would take you a teensy bit overbudg, but gahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I also sorta like this floral top w/ sheath skirt from Zara. With some kind of edgy black heels though okay? Nothing too office-y.

Jeez, I feel like I'm dressing you for a high school reunion or something. Just don't wear a WHITE DRESS and you'll be fine.

(Top Photo by Gavin Doyle)


  1. GAH those those are hot. and I wear a 39.5.....

  2. I like when girls wear patterns in engagement photos.

    It's November - are you somewhere cold? Are you doing them outdoors?

  3. As a bigger girl I can personally attest to the magic that is a Suzy Chin dress. Those babies hit you in all the right places and make you look fact I'm wearing one to a wedding tomorrow. Plus the basic colors allow you to wear fucking awesome accessories a-la calfhair shoes!

  4. calfhair, haircalf....whatever

  5. As a girl who has yo-yoed from size 8 to size 14, I can say - I really don't like the wrap dress for most girls my size. I think people always try to put us in them and I don't think they're that flattering.

    Instead, I would strongly encourage a pencil skirt combined with a great top that shows off your assets (whether that's a color that brings out your eyes, a lower cut that shows off your cleavage, or something that clings nicely to your curves). It's a sassy, grown-up look and will make you look like Joan Holloway, not a wallflower.

    Okay, that's my two-cents.

  6. I would just like to point out that the vast majority of dresses from Asos come in a size 12 AND 14(I'm in this size range, so I totally get it), and they have plenty that are $100 or less as well. Not knowing anything about your style makes it hard to pick something, but if you're going with a wrap dress I would pick maybe a red one, but again, not sure what you like.

  7. I love both of these outfits as well as the red dress that Anon6:44 suggested.

    You really can't go wrong with a simple, flattering dress and a great pair of shoes.

  8. I like the wrap dress. Anything with a defined waist is going to be your friend.

    But really, it just sounds like you need a fun outfit you feel good in in general, not just for a photo session.

    Madewell has a few cute things in that price range and their sizes go up to 14. This one is on sale. And this Alexa Chung one is cute, though maybe it reads a tad too white.

    Both are a smidge over budget but are the kind of thing you could get plenty of wear out of. And this one is on sale and under budget.

    If your budget is flexible or you have time to wait for it to go on sale, I also like this one.

  9. You and I are about the same size, so I'm going to pretend for a moment that you also love animal print.

    Now, don't hate, but I actually adore Dress Barn. They make dresses that don't just come in size 12-14, but are SHAPED for size 12-14 and that makes a huge difference. Also, the sales people in there will make you feel like a human being and are surprisingly really helpful.

    Great Pattern, Great Shape

    This would be a maybe on me, but will work since you're a bit taller (I have stumpy legs)

    I would probably steer clear of solids unless they are somewhat flowing like this only because the camera will pick up every shadow and highlight in something a bit clingier, which is usually accentuated by solid fabrics.

    Ok, now I need to go shopping for holiday dresses.

  10. I like the look of this one-shoulder number. Puts the attention on your collar bones, which is a super sexy body part on all women. Wear it with those heels esb found (gah!) and some cool bracelets. Your coloring sounds really striking and pretty, don't overdue the accessories- let your natural beauty be the center of attention.

  11. I'd love to know more about the photo shoot, like the location, the theme, if there is one, and what your fiance is wearing, but here are a couple of options for you:

    This little black dress with these booties.

    And I love the cut of this dress, which I'd pair with these T-strap heels.

    Good luck! xo.

    p.s. On an unrelated note: ESB - did you notice Kirsten Dunst recommended the Little House on the Prairie / Rodarte frock as a wedding dress over at WWW today?! Only me and Kiki would wear that sh*t, ha! xo.

  12. I am so this size + curvy (though busty and not so much in the bum dept) -- I've found that a vintage-type silhouette always looks amazing. Something like this, which is Jessica Simpson (on ideeli, a flashsale site, but shipping won't get to you on time) = $70, and I bet might be available in some department stores. This is a BCBG dress, also on ideeli (sorry, I was already shopping here after I read this post!) for $100, so maybe it's out there, too. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain -- depending on what area of the country you're in, H&M is hit or miss (but I do have this dress, which I loove, and hey if you want to try borrowing it (as in I'm trusting you to mail it back to me ;) -- throw a sweater over it if you're somewhere cold?), lemme know!); and honestly, I have scored just about every time I needed a dress at Marshall's, Ross, or Bealls/Palais Royale. Which, if you know what I'm talking about with that last store, is probably shocking as hell. But it's like the Dress Gods know when I'm in need, and I find just what I need for $30 in these stores, it's almost ridic. A-hem. I'll try to have actual links/suggestions -- I'm a big fan of tulip or a-line-ish skirts + blouses + cardigans (I know, how old am I?), just so flattering! Good luck :)

  13. Hi,
    I am the girl who wrote in. THANK YOU all for your amazing suggestions (and to you ESB for answering despite your thoughts on engagement pictures)! I’ve been reading ESB long before I was engaged and having all the help be directed at you is a new kind of fun.

    To answer people’s questions-- We live in downtown Phoenix and are getting the pictures taken in our neighborhood—some of the backdrops will be murals by local artists and a park with a giant suspended sculpture. We are getting married at a dude ranch, so we wanted our engagement photos to be more about the places we go in our everyday life (just with better clothes in my case :)).

    I went on a bit of a anxiety fueled online shopping spree the same day I wrote ESB…I plan to get a few of the suggestions below and either wear them instead of what I bought before or for regular life (good call @Fine Percussion). My favorites are @ESB’s Zara top and sheath skirt suggestion (if I order today I might get it in time and I have the perfect zip up the back chunky strappy heels) and the @Fine Percussion’s suggestion of the Madewell Paisley Bloom dress (once it goes on sale, perhaps as a rehearsal dinner outfit).

    Wow, that was a lot of parenthetical asides.

    P.S. That Clifford the Big Red Dog photog picture is hilarious.

  14. Girl who needs the clothes again. Cara, that is so sweet! I am not a good keeper of things (the FW could tell you all sorts of stories...) and I don't trust myself not to stain, rip, lose your go-to dress.

  15. As a fellow 12/14 I love wrap dresses, but like to wear a control slip underneath to smooth out my silhouette. I prefer the ones you can wear with your own bra. They're fairly comfortable (for a girdle) and don't pinch your legs like the panty-type control garments do. Find 'em at any big department or lingerie store.

  16. The shop is closed so I can't see how far out of budget you know this baby is going to be, but I think it would look pretty fab on just about any one
    Wiksten Dress

  17. I second that. Love weddings, hate engagement photos. It was hard enough to do the forced gaze-into-his-eyes-in-love at our wedding. I love my husband, I do, but talk about awkward. Even worse while frolicking in a field.