A Corporette reader, Lost in the Racks, asked:

Big dinner coming up SATURDAY NIGHT [emphasis mine] with SO and his firm (900+ employees). No idea what to wear. He’s wearing very dark grey pinstripe Hugo Boss European cut suit. I need to look amazing – first time to a work function with him. I’m 5’10″ and usually a size 12 – curvy (38DD). Help?

So, LitR, I'm sort of letting you jump the line here because it sounds like your event is tomorrow?  If that isn't true and its next Saturday - well - you're still a bit pressed for time but you could order from SOME online retailers (Zappos, Amazon, on-line only Nordstrom's dresses).  But for the sake of this post I'm sticking to "things that I think are available at most malls in America" but simultaneously "still look fabulous enough that you won't look like you bought it the day before."  I assume you volunteered your husband's suit to describe level of dressiness and not a matching issue - since almost everything in the world goes with gray - but I'll try not to clash (and if you need to, you can always buy him a new coordinating but not too matchy-matchy tie.)  Or better yet, let the guys in the men's section of a department store or suit store do it - they are much better at it than us mere mortals.

So I'm going to add some styling and possibly actual shoe and jewelry advice, because in the end what makes an outfit for an event like this sometimes isn't the dress but rather how you accessorize.  Also, on a final note, I know most people would head straight to the "LBD" section for this one - and that's fine - but I think some color would be great for this.  I mean, its a middle of the summer party and *you* don't have to be conservative to avoid "embarrassing" yourself in front of your bosses - you just have to be appropriate, if the difference is clear. So I'm going to suggest some color but I'd definitely suggest you look at my "wedding guest black dress" post (which has both LBDs and non-LBDs), my "teal" cocktail and work dress and my "little red dress" post from before for other ideas.  Many of those dresses, especially the Nordies ones, may be available at your local mall - but I'd call ahead to check.  Now moving on to some ideas specialized just for you.

Ivy & Blu for Maggy Boutique at Nordstroms ($168 - the reviews are mixed, but you'd be trying it on first. Its available in your size at 2 of the 4 stores near my house so I figure you have decent odds of it being available near you.  I think a fun floral would be great for a summer work party because well its summer.  I'd keep everything else simple, nude or gray heels, maybe a silver or gold bangle, pendant necklace and maybe even just stud earrings.)
Cascade Hem Sleeveless Dress in palm frond from Ann Taylor ($79.99 - so I would normally not recommend asymmetrical hemlines, I just usually don't like them, but something about the execution of this one works for me.  Plus the color is great, I like the top, the price is right, and its available in-store in lots of locations.  So it might be worth a try-on at least.  Most reviews are good - saying its flattering and a nice length for the taller set.)
Textured Cotton Sundress in polka dot from WHBM ($160 - WHBM has this fun polka dot dress - they also have a couple great striped dresses.  If you're hitting a mall, I'd hit them up first. They're one of my must stops when taking my friends dress shopping and they are always amazed by how much they like the dresses and how flattering they are...including both x-shaped and fairly short to tiny, thin, and tall.  So they have variety.)
Tadashi Shoji Lace & Tulle Cocktail Dress at Nordstroms ($298 - you'll have to check store availability - this is a repeat for me from the teal post - but I just love it.  A more modern take on the lace trend, a beautiful teal, looks long enough that should work for a 5' 8" person, wide shoulder straps and high neck should hold the girls, and the ribbon detailing at the waist line should help emphasize a variety of natural waist lines.  Also comes in a lovely cantaloupe color. Maybe worth the splurge since it would be a great dress for weddings and such?)
Banded Drop-Waist Dress in black at WHBM ($160 - if I was you and looking for a little black dress for this, I might seriously consider this one.  It has 11 reviews and a 5 out of 5 - with lots of reviews saying it looks great on curvier figures.  I think it would really work well with your assets [as they say in the boob trade lol] and the banded section through the bodice and stomach looks forgiving but while still having a nice a-line twirly skirt at the bottom.  Yes, I'm a grown-woman who likes twirly skirts and I'm proud. A pair of red pumps and a bright red lip with some great jewelry and this would be a great "guest at a company party" look.
Colorblocked Pleated Sleeveless Dress in tropical jade at Ann Taylor ($148 - this dress practically SCREAMS summer at me and if this color flatters you it might be perfect.  Add a long necklace or pendant, some nude or metallic sandals, and maybe that bangle she's wearing and it's a great look.  A nice mix of formal and fun. I'd bring a cardigan or wrap though.
Etched Leaf Wrap Dress at Talbots ($109.00 - available in all sizes and should be in store - I think a lot of wrap dresses might be too casual for this event, but since this one has a pattern, a very nice one in my opinion, it dresses it up enough that I think it works.  Again with a bit of extra jewelry and nice shoes and you've got a good look; plus wrap dresses are just SO flattering and look so good on bustier women.)
Adrianna Papell Jersey and Taffeta dress at Nordstroms ($178 - I wanted to include one dress that was really a more formal "event" dress - unfortunately this one isn't available in stores near me but you should check with the stores near you.  Or look for something with a similar wide-v-neck and fit and flare skirt - which I think would be a great formal dress shape for you.)
Side bow dress in bright red at The Limited ($79.90 - possibly with an additional 50% off - the sale is difficult to understand.  There is also a black version of this dress and this is called red though on my screen it looks orange.  Either way, the Limited is getting great props everywhere for its new resurgence  so I'd definitely check it out for a mall option for a dress.  [Oh and I secretly hop this is orange - I love orange.])
Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Beaded Tulip Hem at Macy's ($199 - this is a brand new Papell as far as I can tell, at least I've never seen it, so I'm throwing it up here just because I like to keep people informed - I'm not actually sure you could get it in time for your party LitR (sorry).  Its definitely an interesting dress, I love the fish tail ruching, but not so sure about the beaded neckline - would have to see in person I guess.  I am a HUGE fan of burgundy though - so they've got me there.)
And Now Just a Few Accessories Suggestions ... Because of Reasons
Cole Haan 'Chelsea' Pump in laquer red patent at Nordstroms ($148.95 - if you decide to go LBD - these amazing red Cole Haans, which for my money are the best red heels out there, are for sale on 50% off - might be worth treating yourself.  Everyone needs a pair of go to red pumps! Though when I explain that to my husband he doesn't seem to understand it.)
Green/turquoise/gold jewelry at F21.  (Bracelet and chevron pendant).  Forever 21 is my absolute favorite place to shop for "one time only" jewelry at the mall - they have fun/funky stuff and frankly it rarely ends up being one time only.  These would be great with one of the teal or black dresses, for example.
Cejon Metallic Crocheted Evening Wrap at Lord & Taylor ($28.50 - a lovely crocheted wrap that would be perfect for a slightly cool evening summer event.  Dillard's has a slightly better picture of it but not everyone has Dillard's.  And I think you could totally wear a gray/silver wrap with gold jewelry if anyone's wondering.  Cejon actually has several lovely wrap/scarfs in metallics at L&T right now if anyone's in the market.)
Okay LitR - that's what I got for you tonight. I hope you find something that makes you look and feel incredible (without making you wear your grandparent's clothes). But really, just have fun and take advantage of what I hope is an open bar. The goal here is just to look nice enough that you fit in - the nice thing about going to your husband's work events and not, say, your own is there's no one to impress. :-) 

P.S. To the other Corporettes who are hopefully now reading this blog instead of just the tumblr (or nothing before).  There is a tab on the top of the page entitled "Vicarious Shopping Questions" where you can submit your questions directly and they won't get lost in the shuffle of a Weekend Thread that gets out of hand and I just forget or lose them (which happens sometimes!)  

Also, if you haven't been reading the blog at all, you may have missed the announcement that I have started a PERSONAL SHOPPING SERVICE through TCFKAG Shops.  You can click on the tab at the top of the page logically titled "Personal Shopping" to learn all about it - but the upshot is if you have a particularly complicated or involved question - or would like help with something like restyling your whole wardrobe or picking out a new wardrobe after significant weight loss....something like that, you should consider hiring me as a personal shopper.  I'm fairly cheap as these things go and it will be a more interactive, on-line process via e-mail or video chat (if you prefer).  Or, if you live in the Boston/Greater New England area - it might even be in person.  So take a look see at the info and submit from that form if you are interested!!!

Okay - that's all the announcements.  Hope you like the dress ideas and happy shopping. Other readers - I know Reader LitR has to go buy these items at the store, but if you are going to buy any of them - I'd be super touched if you bought them through the link on the website because when people buy things through my links I make a little money which is both cool and I get adorably excited about it (think $10 per, like week, and you'll understand why its adorable.)  Gosh - REALLY, really checking off now.  :-)
Reader A wrote in:

Hi! Love your comments on Corporette and was going to post there but why not just go directly to the expert?! I am a plus-size apple shape. I wear right around a 14W-16W. I am completely uninspired but am interested in finding some affordable work options. I work in a business not-casual-but-not-a-suit-everyday kind of office. I often wear cardigans with blouses and skirts or slacks. As for style, I'm probably more Talbots than Coldwater Creek, more button down than loose and flowy. Do separates look better on apple shapes than dresses? What should I avoid? Any advice you can give or specific recommendations of affordable clothing would be very appreciated. Thank you, TCFKAG!

So this is a very timely question, since we were talking about body shape, natural waist definition, and generally dressing for your shape today or yesterday at Corporette.  So I'm excited to address your question.  So - my absolute favorite website out there for "how to dress your body shape" is Inside Out Style - she has addressed TONS of body shape issues way better than I can (probably) and in far greater detail.  Seriously, check it out everyone.  Reader A, if I had to guess, I would bet that you are what Imogen calls an "O Shape" - someone who carries their weight through their mid-section.  Rather than recreate the wheel - I am going to copy and paste her suggestions for O-shapes here:

How to dress your O shape body (see also this page):
  • You will find tops that drape past your body really make a difference.  Anything that clings won’t flatter.
  • If you feel you need to put a horizontal line on your body, make sure it’s in the empire position (just underneath your bust) rather than at your waist.  If the fabric is at all stiff make sure there are no gathers under the bust as you will get asked about when the baby is due.
  • Layering is your friend, a dark top underneath a lighter (than the top) jacket or cardigan will help make your stomach disappear.
  • Use that column of colour to create the longest vertical line you can.
  • Create focal points around your face, rather than through your mid-section
  • Keep patterns dense, but larger scale.
  • Ruching is your friend.  Ruching in a top can help to hide a myriad of secrets.
  • Tunics can work really well with skinny jeans on your body shape, especially if you have great legs.  Tuck your skinny jeans into knee high boots to balance your upper body.
  • Patterns (especially when dense and low negative space) can help to keep the eye moving and not draw attention to your body.
  • Look for fabrics that don’t have too much bulk, but also those that skim, without clinging, too much lycra in a garment won’t be flattering.
  • Single breasted jackets are best for you.  A wider collar can help draw attention up and out.
  • Avoid cropped jackets, you will find jackets that fall no shorter than the hip bone flatter most.  3/4 length can really work.
  • Jackets are great for hiding lumps and bumps, make sure the fabric is not to stiff, that they are fitted, but not too tight.
  • You may find that straighter shaped skirts work well for you, falling from your hips and creating a longer line.  Trumpet skirts that flare from the knee can also work.
  • Avoid skirts with gathering at the waist, tiered skirts and stiff a-line skirts
  • Dresses with a knot just under the bust are a great shape for you.
  • Alternatively, try a faux wrap dress that doesn’t have any seaming or ties around the waist
  • Darker denims, softer denims with some stretch will work better for you than light and stiff denims.
  • Avoid too much distressing on denim, keep it simple and clean looking.
  • Have your pants hemmed as long as possible to create the longest, leanest line.
  • Trouser shape jeans are great, bootcuts also work.
  • Want to wear a belt? Check out these tips.
The keys seem to be shirts and dresses that drape nicely across the middle but cinch at the empire waist.  Trousers that are straight legged will be best.  Avoid bringing attention to the stomach area (AMEN SISTAH).  Jackets, structured sweaters, and other items that create structure over the draped shirts.  Working with these parameters, here are some ideas - both in the separates world and the dress world (I might even throw in a couple trousers.)
Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique Jersey Faux Wrap Dress at Nordstroms ($188) - I know its pricey, but I think this could become a real wardrobe stable.  See this awesome version in polka dot too!
Gingham wrap shirt at Talbots ($79.50 - available in other colors) - I think it would look nice under a suit jacket.
JM Collection Sleeveless Sheath ($46.99 - several colors) - belted at the empire waist, I think it would work.
Maggy London London Times Short Sleeved Textured Sheath Dress ($98 - only in 14W) - I really like that this hits right at the empire waist, has sleeves, and creates a shape without being too clingy.  Plus this color could be lovely for spring/summer.
Sejour Ela Pencil Skirt at Nordstroms ($68) - meets the "straight skirt" recommended by Imogen.
Charter Club Short Sleeve Cross Front Top ($24.99 - lots of colors) - nice shape - good under jackets.
Adrianna Papell Jersey Fit and Flare Dress at Nordstroms ($93.80) - I like the color and the way it brings attention up to the bodice.  Plus the color is pretty.
Signature Wide Leg Linen Trouser at Talbot ($109) - nice straight leg and no pockets emphasizing the middle areas.
Evans Single Button Blazer at Nordstroms ($69.50) - just in case you need a black blazer, I like this basic one.
So!  I hope this inspires you and gives you some ideas.  Write back in and let me know if you like any of these.  And definitely check out Inside Out Style's blog - she has amazing advice.  Have fun revamping your wardrobe...I know you will.  :-)