I still don’t have a ballgown.

My regular readers may remember that I contemplated getting one to wear when I was one of the guests of honour at ConFusion 2008. It did not happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I frocked up for ConFusion. I mean, what am I a farmer? But I didn’t ballgown up. And until I do I feel my life is not complete.

I have decided that the perfect ballgown really ought to have sleeves. Tragically that much reduces my options. But there are some choices. If by “choice” I mean that I can a) go back in time to when these collections were actually available or b) track down those who have these dresses in their collection in my size who are willing to sell c) have the gazillions of dollars necessary to make options a) or b) possible.

First one from the glorious Alexander McQueen:

I am not a pastel girl so these colours don’t work for me. But given that the idea of ever wearing this gown is entirely imaginary I believe I’m allowed to imagine it in jewel colours.

And then there are not one, not two, but THREE options from one of my fave designers of all time, the divine Vivienne Westwood via amescheng:

Here’s a closer detail:

I love the see-through sleeves.

And another:

Strictly speaking these are not long sleeves. But I figure there’s so much going on at the shoulder that it has the effect of a long sleeve. Sort of. Not that I would ever wear yellow.

Sadly, I have not been able to find a better photo anywhere of the gorgeous puce gown on the right above. *sadness* I suspect that’s the gown I want. Vivienne, call me!

What’s your pick? Or better still can you give me a link to other long-sleeved ballgowns. No, they does not have to be within realms of possibility. Please! See above.


  1. Kate L on #

    Amen to Karen’s pick πŸ™‚

  2. Justine on #

    Karen: Do you have more info on that dress? Who designed it?

  3. Phiala on #

    You forgot option d – learn to sew, or find someone who can help you. Those gowns are more about the right undergarments (purchased) than about really complicated tailoring. And then you could have nonpastel stripes

  4. Justine on #

    Q: Those are a bit, um, matronly. Ballgowns need to be explodey and BIG.

    Phiala: Learn to sew! Hah! You is so funny.

  5. Q on #

    All right, you’re right, but I still wouldn’t recommend sewing. Sewing projects always turn into nightmares.

  6. Phiala on #

    Yeah, I was pretty sure that’s what you’d say. But don’t you have any friends with talents in that direction?

  7. Karen on #

    More info about the red dress here. Mina Harker’s dress from Dracula…

  8. Justine on #

    Q: Don’t worry. I is like the embodiment of non-craftiness.

    Phiala: My friends are also non-crafty. But, yes, hiring a good dressmaker is pretty much the only way this ballgown will ever happen.

    Karen: Thanks! Now I have another dress I can’t have to lust over. W00t! Though as soon as the multi-million dollar film version of Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction happening I am SO getting that dress!

  9. Q on #

    (P.S. I think it’s going to be rather difficult to find a ball gown with long sleeves that isn’t matronly. You may want to find a sleeveless dress and get a matching jacket made.)

  10. Ali on #

    Lol, my first two thoughts for brilliant dramatic dresses are always 1)Vivienne Westwood and 2)Alexander McQueen.

    After that I would think of:
    Galliano, but the one I like best I think you already found:
    Christian LaCroix:

    Also, more Alexander McQueen: – it is lacking in sleeves but that’s what full-length gloves are for πŸ™‚

  11. Justine on #

    Q: Did you not look at the link Karen provided? Is the opposite of matronly! Long sleeves done well = elegance!

    Ali: YUM!

  12. khy on #

    Ooh, shiny. Me likey.

  13. Sarah on #

    Hey Justine…..
    This is kind of out of line but, I was wondering if you could post an article about the IPL and ur take on it… I would lovee to read it…

    ur fan

  14. Justine on #

    Sarah: I’ve yet to see a single match. So I only know what I’m reading on blogs thus it would be a very second-hand opinion. Hopefully we’ll be in Sydney next April/May and I will finally get to follow the whole IPL circus. If it’s still around that is . . .

  15. Natalie on #

    Those dresses are dreamy! The Alexander McQueen dresses made me think of the big white dress Christian Siriano made on Project Runway. And that makes me miss Project Runway like CRAZY πŸ™‚ Good luck on finding the perfect dress!

  16. Hoolie on #

    Ooooh, that Alexander McQueen dress on top is SPECTACULAR!! It is giant and I am not so much giant, so I would probably disappear inside it, but there are worse ways to go, oh yes there are. I want!

  17. Liana Brooks on #

    I like Beautifully Modest dresses. But there are others if you Google something like “Modest Formal Wear” and you’ll be given a list of choices.

    If those are too… plain I suppose then check out the designer Tadashi . His fall collection had an excellent choice in dresses with sleeves. And their beautiful!

  18. Justine on #

    Liana: While lovely those are not ballgowns nor do they have sleeves!

  19. Justine on #

    Kath: I’m not sure about the fringe either. Easy to cut off, but.

    Just any sleeve at all is fine by me. So many ballgowns don’t have ’em at all.

  20. Diana Peterfreund on #

    Gah. Tell me about it! When I was getting married, it was hard enough to find a dress with STRAPS, let alone sleeves. Everyone’s answer was some variation of:

    1) But you can wear a shawl.
    2) But you can buy a bolero jacket which doesn’t really match.
    3) Don’t you want your shoulders on display? All the emphasis should be on your face, so there shouldn’t be much material up there to detract…
    4) Oh, are you getting married in a church?

    November? Who cares. And no one thought my husband’s suit jacket “detracted from his face.

  21. Belynda on #

    Sleeves are easy… my suggestion? Find the dress you want and have a bridal shop tailor it for you. When I bought my wedding dress, my one requirement was that it have a portrait neckline that covered my awesome tattoo on my shoulder (I love my ink, but not in 150 wedding shots that will forever be my history, thanks.) I bought a Maggie Sottero dress and hand the lace sleeves widened to cover up. It worked a charm for about $100 over the cost of the dress, and I couldn’t have been happier! (I mean, the husband is pretty awesome as well… so that’s good!)

    Good hunting!

  22. Q on #

    Yes, I did look at that link, and it’s lovely and you should find one of those gowns. I didn’t say it would be impossible, I said it would be difficult.

  23. London on #

    Normally I’m not a dressy person, or a Marilyn Manson person, but I LOVE the gown Dita what’s-her-name wore when she married MM in a castle. It is gothic & beauteous:
    Here’s a close-up of her back and train:
    It only has short sleeves but they’re still pretty cool. AND there is an awesome matching hat!
    Also if if you scroll down to the second to last photo she has CRAZY sleeves on the dress she is wearing in that one. Poofballs and flowers and whatnots.
    Anyway this is fun! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Dave H on #

    Wait, wait, wait! If you get a ballgown now, you have to come back to ConFusion and wear it for us! Otherwise, we will have missed out after being the original inspiration! And we would be sad.

  25. kath on #

    I am not normally enamored of such finery but dear GOD I want pretty much everything Dita what’s-her-name wore in those photos! And the HATS! Bring me the hats at once…

  26. Justine on #

    London: Dita Von Teese’s clothes are truly amazing. The wedding dress is, of course, by Vivienne Westwood. I forgive that dress for not having sleeves.

  27. Elodie on #

    Isn’t puce such a nasty word for a color? It sounds sorta like pus, and sorta like a gross little bug that sneaks around in the forest and bites you.

    Otherwise, have you looked at steampunk/victorian/etc style dresses? A lot of those tend to have long sleeves and look totally awesome! πŸ˜€

    (I second the get someone to sew it, too. It could be *all yours* and no one else’s!)

  28. Anonymous on #

    Oh! Have you seen Wicked? You need Glinda’s (or technically Galinda’s, at that point) wand! “La la la la la – ballgown! La la la la la – ballgown!” Of course, her wand doesn’t always work…

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