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151: Disarming a dressy dress
How to wear Mara Hoffman's popcorn Mona three ways.
I love this Mara Hoffman dress. It’s fun to wear, flattering, and befitting a variety of occasions (and worth creating occasions to wear it) as long as you don’t let it overwhelm you.
At first blush, with its clingy popcorn shape and rococo rosette bust, it seems like the kind of thing you wear to a wedding, so a lot of what I’ve done with this piece is disarm it from various angles. This dress begs for a glitzy clutch and fussy little heels, which would be great if I were actually wearing it anywhere besides, like, around town—as I did running appointments one Monday morning during NYFW.
In recontextualizing the dress, what I didn’t want to do was over-style away its special details. I could have thrown a button-down over it or done something like a wide belt and boot, but I’ve opted for the path of taking away where I can rather than adding. The Her approach is how I think of it, for the movie’s costume choices to detract rather than add to invent a futuristic mode of dress. I find something satisfying about a barely finished look, anyway.
It may be the oldest, most abused trick in the book, but sweaterizing a look is an almost guaranteed way to ground it. High efficiency rating for this hack, since it often doesn’t even require actually wearing the sweater. Simply drape it around your neck like some scarf-flag hybrid that signals a sense of easygoingness and pragmatism.
The sweater’s air of Ivy prep suggested I lean further into academe: shiny loafers (even if they are tabis) and a wristwatch. I stopped short at prescription glasses, but you don’t have to.
A tee over the dress would have been a denial of its essential excess, but a tank slipped beneath is a kind of frame. This Porto pouch comes with me everywhere I travel (it carries my jewelry in my bag and then becomes a spare purse upon arrival), so maybe that’s where my head is at with this look—sunset drinks by the water somewhere…
Ok, so maybe this dress does deserve a fussy little heel and a bit of leaning in. She’s earned it! The “disarming” happening here is with a very sensible A.P.C. bag that also happens to be extremely chic. Hair up in a bun is also a necessary antidote to this look’s cuteness.
Some alts to the dress to satisfy various price points and purposes: a poppy red Skims tube dress (really the color is astounding) for only $80, a Beaufille dress that has straps but stays sexy with a decadent keyhole cutout below the bust, and a strapless Kallmeyer gown in heavy suiting for a more tailored approach (available as a long top, too).
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Photos by Deb Leal
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