Fairy Godmothering

Ever since I was sixteen and made my sister a dress for the Winter Formal, I have been a bit of a Fairy Godmother.  Need your corsage attached? – here, let me.   A great outfit for a house dance? hmmm…try this!  A way to make your low-cut dress not so revealing? Got it!  Funky makeup for your Halloween look?  No problem!

I have come up with everything from a tinfoil Viking hat with golden braids for my mother’s Helga costume to a papier-mâché Madonna-boobs bustier for a (guy) friend to designing and making nearly every costume my nieces have ever worn – we have covered the spectrum from kittens to “fashionable” ghosts and zombie cheerleaders in the last nine years. 

Beyond costuming I have done quite a bit of styling for my friends and family.  In my sorority days when a house dance rolled around my room was always a buzz of dressing, hair styling and make up.  In my bridesmaid years I had a “wedding kit” at the ready stocked with sewing essentials, spare panty hose, clear nail polish, hair spray, etc… all ready to roll.  And when the girl buddies start prepping for a big get-away weekend my email and BlackBerry are full of pictures, questions, and ideas.

I love doing this, it’s fun and creative and I love the whirl of excitement when a group is getting ready for an event.  I love challenging myself to get each person’s look just right.  I haven’t managed to turn a pumpkin and mice into a carriage and horses, but I have come up with some pretty imaginative looks and creative solutions to “fashion emergencies”.       

This week I headed over to my sister’s to help her, her mother-in-law, and friend prep for an upcoming ball.  On the agenda was completing the final touches for their looks – jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.  I arrived with a tote loaded down with evening bags and my rather extensive collection of evening-appropriate costume jewelry.  I inherited a generous portion of two grandmothers’ sparkly costume jewelry collections and have added quite a few pieces of my own so there are some really awesome pieces that do need to see the light of day more often and this is a great opportunity. 

First we added the finishing touches to a refined and elegant look for a mature goddess.  Her dress of cadet blue had a silver overlay in semi-oriental floral pattern so we kept her accessories in with that vibe and kept them simple.  A plain, smooth, silver butter-soft leather clutch from Tiffany was just right.  For jewelry a pair of earrings that dangled with tiers of crystals in a vaguely pagoda style – perfection! 

Next – something sultry, glamorous and very old Hollywood.  The tall and slender young lady in question had selected a gorgeous navy satin gown with a deep vee and narrow straps with a dramatically tied back.  The gown already had a rhinestone embellishment at the décolletage so we continued that theme with dramatic rhinestone earrings in a dangling celtic cross shape, and a CZ tennis bracelet.  She had found embellished silver sandals and as finishing touch, my sister’s equally sparkly rhinestone bag.  This would have been a whole lotta bling and waaaayyyyy too much if the dress wasn’t a long fluid expanse of smooth navy and if the individual sparkly pieces hadn’t been of moderate scale.  A single additional anything would have been overkill.

My sister posed the greatest challenge – she had gotten a lovely long skirt in shimmering gilded celadon that simply begged for gold and bronze.  After looking at several options for tops the  favorite was a simply cut tee covered in fish scale sequins in gold and bronze.  Super sophisticated and dramatic, the top really brought out her gorgeous deep brown eyes, shiny hair, and amazing skin (my little sister has it ALL going when it comes to looks – imagine Audrey Hepburn blended with Sandra Bullock – WOW!!)  

The challenge, like me she prefers silver so most of what we already had in the way of accessories on hand were silver, white and black.  The one super cool exception, our mother’s enormous smoky topaz solitaire cocktail ring set in gold.  My sister has never really had the perfect outfit for it before– so this was a huge “AH HA” and was this ring’s MOMENT!!!  Otherwise stumped by what we had on hand and short on time to round up our other girl-buddies’ goodies, she will need to hit the shops once last time before the ball.  Her mission is to get strappy sandals in gold (just like the three pairs we already had in silver, of course), a simple gold clutch (ditto), and some dangly gold and topaz earrings.  So another mission complete, three women ready to hit the town in high style.

Swapping jewelry, accessories, and (if you are very lucky and don’t have dinky feet like me) shoes, with friends is a great way to pool resources for a special event and give everyone a special look without having to buy *everything* every time.  While special occasion dresses tend to be too memorable to swap, especially when your friends all attend the same events and take lots of pictures, most accessories are not.  I also find “pooling” gets a bit more mileage out of those jazzy pieces that otherwise don’t really get much wear.  It makes me happy to see my favorite rhinestones out on the town instead of sulking in their jewelry box.  Best of all, you get to pool ideas as well – you never know what your friends may think up for you.          

So next time a big event rolls around, consider pooling *your* resources or call on your own Fairy Godmother.  Or…you can always call me!  Bibbity Bobbity Boo!

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