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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“You won’t see yourself coming and going.” That’s what my late business partner used to say when she was selling one-of-a-kind or limited-edition jewelry. Before I went into business with her, I was her customer, and I was a sucker for that line. After all, I used this as my official “statement” in my high-school yearbook:

“UNIQUE (yoo-NEEK) adj. 1. Being the only one of its kind; sole. 2. Being without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled. Imitation is suicide, so stop killing yourselves.”

How pretentious! But, as yearbook editor, I wouldn’t allow myself to write, “Fuck you, Mahwah High School!” so I had to be obnoxious in a slightly more subtle way.

Naturally, I got into vintage dresses in the early 2000s after I realized they were likely to be yoo-NEEK and keep me out of “who wore it best” contests — with one or two exceptions. Accordingly, this spring, I tried to ignore a yo͞oˈbikwətəs pink, orange and black-striped Prada dress, even though I love pink and orange together.

Actress Amanda Seyfried on the April issue of Elle.

Gwen Stefani in April's Elle UK.

Thandie Newton on the cover of June's InStyle UK.

Tina Fey in April's InStyle.

Fourteen-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit beat everyone to the punch by wearing the evening gown version of the dress to the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January.

Child star Hailee Steinfeld.

When I spotted the short version of the dress in Bergdorf Goodman, I figured I’d try it on to get it out of my system. My love of Prada accessories is notorious, but the low-sex-appeal clothes have never spoken to me till this season. I hoped the dress would be as unpretty in person as it was pretty in pictures, but the dress didn’t oblige. I consulted MrB, who once saw me rip off a dress after a sales associate tried to clinch the deal by telling me Beyonce had worn it. MrB doesn’t spend a lot of time brooding about Elle’s cover photos, so he said something that amounted to “Wear what you want,” which, of course, is something a true genius would say.

I got the dress and decided I’d wear it to my grandmother’s 95th birthday party last weekend in Florida, where, I was confident, no Hollywood stars would be wearing my outfit. I packed gold shoes (previously seen here). Gold goes with everything, right?

The gold shoes, via Instagram. Follow me on Instagram! I'm "WendyBrandes." Nails are by Minx.

It turned out that gold goes with everything except this dress. I hated the combination. I felt like a tasteful version of J-Woww from Jersey Shore. Like, if you held a gun on J-Woww and forced her to cover up her tittays in the striped dress, she’d be desperate to trash it up, so she’d pick these shoes and pray that they’d give her that special touch of “hooker.” MrB, being a saint, didn’t want me to suffer from an undesirable shoe situation, so he found a Neiman Marcus 10 minutes away from the dinner location. I ran to the sale rack, plucked out a pair of wedges and ran out with them on my feet (after paying). MrB had never seen me buy anything so quickly. The trick was I had been looking for a pair of dressy black wedges, but I hadn’t found anything I liked. With fall clothes and shoes hitting the stores, I had given up hope of finding any summer shoes. I always find what I need when I have no hope.

What Wendy Wore to Grandma’s Birthday Party
Dress: Prada (2011)
Shoes: Prada (2011)
Earrings: My own Cleopatra design
Lip color: So Chaud by MAC

I feel good about this look despite the dress’s ubiquity. In fact, I think that if I had a world-class photographer, professional hair and makeup, a steamer, a fierce pose and massive amounts of Photoshop, I might even look “comedy hot.” (Pop-star hot is out of the question.) But I still have a bone to pick with Hailee Steinfeld. You’re only 14, child! You don’t deserve Prada yet. Get yourself some nice Gunne Sax frocks, like the ones I wore at your age. Kids these day!

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62 Responses to “What Wendy Wore: Prada and the Definition of “Ubiquitous””

  1. Tina says:

    Wedge shoes save the day! There is something I love about that dress, no matter how many peeps have worn it. The color combo is super fab!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Yeah, pink and orange together make me think of Diana Vreeland’s quote: “Pink is the navy blue of India.” And I like that quote!

  2. Audi says:

    Once again you wore it best, Wendy!

  3. Alicia
    Twitter: T
    says:

    Damn ubiquity…you look great. GREAT.

    And double win on the wedges. In less than 10-minutes, too? Awesome. =D

  4. Pfft, you look even better than pop-star hot; you look WendyB hot. Not just hot, haaawt.

  5. Elle
    Twitter: elleenchantment
    says:

    They may have worn it but it looks like it was made for you. Stunning.

  6. Smashingbird
    Twitter: smashingbird
    says:

    The dress looks super fab on you! x

  7. You look so pretty, and I love the traditional Wendy B ankle cross. All the other celebrities should have done that too haha

  8. Mish Dish says:

    You look amazing in THE dress. I have the gold Prada sandals too. I fell in love at first. xo mish

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Aren’t they fab? I had a pair of gold sandals that I thought I’d never replace even though the gold is peeling off. Then I saw these shoes and they were worthy!

  9. Lara says:

    That dress is going to be an icon. You’ll pull it out 10 years from now and still be able to rock it! I’m so glad you got it!

  10. une femme
    Twitter: dejapseu
    says:

    You look Fab in that dress, and the black wedges are perfect! Good call!!

  11. dana
    Twitter: damibe
    says:

    Pink and orange — yesss. Red and purple — also yesss. Now, please design a ring with this sort of color play. I won’t be able to afford it, but I will love looking at it!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I’ve got another kind of good color combo coming up, but it won’t be for a while, unfortunately. Maybe early next year?

  12. Gloria says:

    First, I love the dress! Even if everyone and their mom is wearing it.

    Second, I think 14 year olds are given a Prada pass after they’ve been nominated for an Oscar, lol.

  13. Pam @over50feeling40
    Twitter: over50feeling40
    says:

    Wendy, you look fantastic…for sure in the same league as the other pictures!!! And, BTW, as the journalism teacher at our high school…I am also the yearbook sponsor!!! I will now look out for more hidden meanings behind definitions!! :)

  14. Megan Mae says:

    Wendy, you look marvelous. Showing up those 14 year olds with super pwnage style. Those wedges were seriously waiting for you to come in and liberate them from their retail prison.

  15. Helen F says:

    It is a gorgeous summer dress. Love that short version!

  16. lisa says:

    Adding to your collection of celebrities spotted in this particular Prada dress, Zooey Deschanel wore it on the May 2011 cover of Flare too:

    http://www.flare.com/celebrity.....r-may-2011

    But it’s nice to see that this dress looks amazing on so many women, and you wear it particularly well. :)

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Oh dang! Need to go back and add her.

      I figure by next year everyone will be tired of the dress, so when I’m still wearing it 10 years from now, I’ll be the only one!

      I actually considered waiting to see if I could get it on consignment next year but that was getting a little too crazy, even for me.

  17. TheShoeGirl says:

    I LOVE it on you!! So great <3

  18. carly says:

    I am a firm believe that if you LOVE a piece of clothing, you must have it…who cares who else owns it. I also don’t care if someone else is wearing the same thing as me at the same affair…is that weird? I figure there is NO way they can style it exactly the same, right. It hasn’t happened yet…so I can still say this and mean it…
    You look beautiful in the dress and am SO glad you decided to ditch the gold shoes..way too much…black looks awesome…as would a really great nude!
    All for now.
    C

  19. Susan Tiner says:

    Seriously, is there anything you can’t put on without looking stunning?

    I kind of like those gold shoes, but agree the black wedges work better with the dress.

  20. Katy says:

    Wendy – You are looking fab in this dress. I love how you framed this post, showing the celebs in the same dress/pattern and then your take on it. – Katy

  21. Rubiatonta says:

    As usual, your very best accessory is your fabulous WendyB smile. The shoes ain’t bad, either.

    Ah, Gunne Sax. How fabulous did we all look in those dresses? The name says it all! I had a navy blue flowered one that I wore with giant “buffalo” sandals.

  22. Tanvi
    Twitter: tanvii
    says:

    The dress looks fantastic on you!!!

  23. elena daciuk says:

    hmmm…my anti-spam word is “fabulush” and i thought…cool…you know…because of fabulous…but then i thought…a fabulous lush? not good…haha…

    seriously…i had no idea so many had worn that dress…i loved it when i saw it on the elle cover…pink and orange…fabulous combination…

    i had a recent conversation with a 23 yr old…who is obsessed with finding gunne sax dresses…and i tell her that i wore them…with my favorite one being at my 8th grade graduation…and she says…why didn’t you save them? eek!

  24. Love the Prada dress. It looks great on you. I definitely think you can pull of “comedy hot”!

  25. stacy says:

    I was voted most unique too!
    I also love pink & orange… very St. Laurent.

  26. The Style Crone
    Twitter: judithstylecrone.com
    says:

    Good choice with the shoes. And with a 95 year old grandmother, you have longevity on your side, with many more shoe choices in the future.

  27. Lynn says:

    Nice dress, cute actually. Yay for black wedges!

  28. Eli says:

    I saw you tweet about the shoe dilemma, glad you worked it out. This dress is everywhere now but what about later?! It fits you perfectly!

  29. I love your striped toenails!! Also, I honestly think you wore it best. :)

  30. Ahhhh, you know I’m a sucker for stripes. Something being worn by big stars definitely makes me run a mile…even if it’s vintage (that Bus Stop dress has been languishing ever since the Kate Moss debacle…)

  31. Topaz Horizon
    Twitter: FrancesASales
    says:

    OMIGOD you are wearing the dress I want most in the world! I’ve wanted it since I saw it on Hailee. It’s everything I love–stripes, orange, pink, black, and sexy!

    • Topaz Horizon
      Twitter: FrancesASales
      says:

      And yes, even if Hailee looked spectacular in it, a Prada has to be earned through bloodsweattears! Although maybe she thinks true grit is enough.

  32. a stylized hysteria
    Twitter: _najeema
    says:

    You have well surpassed “comedy hot” in this outfit. I nearly spit out my breakfast when I got to your Jenni comments- hilarious!

  33. GRIT & GLAMOUR
    Twitter: gritandglamour
    says:

    Ubiquitous is a personal fave. Now I heart you even more.

    Mr. B is a saint, and this dress kicks a** on you, my dear! Funny, that. Sometimes the gold kicks actually don’t match something. Love what you chose…looking forward to seeing more detail in a future post.

  34. savvy gal says:

    You look absolutely fierce and fabulous.

  35. Marian says:

    Loving you in that Prada madam! You could be on one of the cover as you look just as fab in it!
    xoxo
    Marian.

  36. Terri says:

    Wendy–I had not realized how ubiquitous the dress was…it looks beautiful on you with the 10-minute shoes. Mr. B. sounds like a saint. But, what did grandma have to say about the dress?

  37. Frankly, my dear, I was not loving the dress till I saw it on you. Too tight, too low on the other beauties. And though Miss H wears it well, I agree that Gunne Sax or Priscilla of Boston are more age and budget appropriate!

  38. THE-LOUDMOUTH
    Twitter: theloudermouth
    says:

    WOW! You look incredible in the dress. Red-carpet worthy for sure :)

  39. Ana says:

    OK, the dress looks better on you than most of those celebs! (I’m partial to Tina, though – can you blame me?)

  40. The Styley says:

    Those black wedges are absolutely perfect with that dress, which looks tailor-made for you.

    I’ve always loved that quote about pink being the navy blue of India, which I first discovered in the Joan Didion novel, “Democracy.” Or maybe I just love the novel? Either way, the idea has always had positive associations for me.

  41. K-Line says:

    Comedy hot is the new pop star hot. And you look very demure in this dress, IMO. And the idea of those gold shoes porning up that dress is hilarious. I have had that experience. It’s a bad moment.

  42. brett says:

    i have loved this dress everytime i have seen it and you rocked it
    i know you will get so much wear out of this little number
    btw…turning pea green with envy here!
    brett

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Trust me, I will be wearing this one for years and years. I think it is the perfect summer dress!

  43. Fajr | Stylish Thought
    Twitter: stylishthought
    says:

    Those pop stars don’t have an ounce of your chutzpah and I’d venture to say that Hailey whatever her name is can’t even pronounce Prada. I got ya back! ;)

    Looking good gal!

  44. Keely says:

    Oh my goodness! I am in love. You look amazing! I have loved that dress since it hit magazines. So, so gorgeous!

  45. That dress is a future classic in my opinion. Besides only fashion minded people will ID it as Prada, the majority of people wouldn’t know or care what’s what. It’s a beautiful dress on you, and cute shoes too.

  46. Fashionistas says:

    You look so super beautiful with the dress and the shoes is just so very good looking. It is indeed a perfect pair. Everything about your look, dress and the shoe was just so complementing and I bow to you.