What to wear to your class reunion

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casual sundress

Blame popular culture’s influence – the phrase “high school reunion” immediately conjures up scenes from “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” where the two eponymous characters give themselves makeovers to convince old classmates that they’re now successful entrepreneurs (inventors of the Post-it, to be exact). Although exaggeratedly absurd, at its core the 1997 movie points to the insecurities that crop up when facing again the people you went to high school with, the same people who might have either worshipped your coolness or wrote your name and number in the bathroom stalls.

A lot changes in ten years – once the acne clears, people get married, have kids, get jobs and gain weight. Unless you live in a very small town, it’s probably safe to say that you haven’t been in contact with old high school classmates since, well, high school, and naturally you want to put your best face forward to people who are practically now strangers. In fact, thirty-three percent of people who attend reunions do so “for validation and comparison purposes,” according to United Online CEO Mark Goldston.

For any of you nearing that ten-year mark, the Wall Street Journal recently ran an article addressing what to wear during your high school reunion, complete with tips from designer Nanette Lepore, Stacey London of reality TV show “What Not to Wear” and a number of other tastemakers (“Ace the School Reunion,” by Ray A. Smith). Just like high school, it’s a bit stereotype-y, but a good style guide nevertheless. Let’s rehash some of the women’s fashion tips therein.

1. The athlete

Definitely do close-fitting dresses that show off your trim figure during cocktail hour, and ditch the matronly pantyhose! Brand whores may merely refer to flattering Herve Leger bandage dresses.

If it’s a daytime event like a picnic, London suggests a camp shirt, Bermuda shorts and on-trend wedges (pro tip: espadrilles are especially great in the spring).

It may be tempting to show off a great body with short skirts, midriff-baring tops, short shorts and spaghetti tanks, but stylists warn to avoid them like the plague – these styles show a little too much skin and are age-inappropriate.

2. The cool crowd

Definitely do a cocktail dress in trendy photogenic colors like electric blue, cobalt and marine – or a black dress with dramatic detailing. Go for a mid-calf length, a style that’s currently been popping up on the runway and gives any outfit a twist.

For daytime events, try a printed blouse with white jeans, says Nanette Lepore. Royal blue is another denim wash that’s in. Alternatively, a casual sundress or maxi dress (again, length is in) with sandals is boho-chic!

3. The (over)achiever

Definitely do a dress in a bold solid color – a color that you’ve been complimented for in the past. A patterned wrap dress from Diane von Furstenberg is another flattering option. It’s easy to fall back on your tame black dresses, but shake it up a little with some color.

Day events call for a pair of modern jeans such as boot-cut, skinny or flared jeans. Dark washes are especially stylish and flattering. An airy silk blouse with a little bit of feminine detailing and polished, trendy shoes (ankle boots, stacked heels or wedges) finishes off this modern take on preppy casual.

4. For everyone

A little black dress with great details is as iconic as Coco Chanel.

But let’s revisit Romy and Michele – love the movie or hate the fashions, it does show that misrepresenting yourself doesn’t pay off in the end. While you want to make a good impression on your old classmates, don’t go overboard and spend a ton on an outfit that will only be worn for a day. Try to pick and choose from what’s already in your closet. If you do opt to buy something new, be sure that it’s a piece with longevity, something that can be worn again and again in the future.

What are you wearing to your high school reunion? Or if it’s already passed, what did you wear? And what do you think about the fashion advice? Let me know in the comments!

-Kim

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