Thursday, April 14, 2016

Say Yes to the Dress?.The Reds go shopping!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Once, on an airplane from Boston to California, I watched five straight episodes of What Not To Wear. I only meant to watch ne, but I was mesmerized. Riveted. Fascinated. I mean---Stacy and...what’s his name?—were amazing. Brilliant. It was Cinderella come to life. It was relatable.  The women were thrilled (after they got over being embarrassed.).  It was such a happy ending, every time.

 There’s also my on the road staple (after CHOPPED): Say Yes To The Dress.  Do you watch that? And, of course, Project Runway.  I used to love paper dolls. I guess it’s the same-ish thing.

So! What fun to have our own little version on Jungle Red today. As Annette Dashofy—Agatha nominee Annette Dashofy!—takes us on her journey to say yes!  And she has a very critical question for you at the end.

The Quest for the Dress
         By Annette Dashofy

 First of all, thanks so much to Hank and the ladies of JRW for having me back. It’s always so much fun and a huge honor to hang out with you gals!

But then I’m faced with what to write. There are so many big issues out there today, but most depress the hell out of me. Or make me want to bash heads. Not good since I’m trying to stay out of jail and the psych ward. Some research, I’d rather avoid.

 So I’ve decided to share what’s become a real hot-button topic over on my Facebook page.

 What dress should I wear to the Agatha Awards Banquet?

By the way, congratulations, Hank! I’m still in shock to be nominated along side you, Margaret, Catriona, and Louise. I have to check the Malice Domestic page every other day or so just to make sure I haven’t hallucinated the whole thing.

Anyhow, last year, I already had a dress for the banquet long before the nominations were announced. The big question was what SHOES to wear with it. This year, I’m starting from scratch. Dress. Shoes. Accessories. All of it.

My quest started online.
And of course the thing with Facebook is once you look at one fancy dress on a store’s website, you receive hundreds of ads for similar dresses on your page. Cyber window shopping!

For a chuckle, I started posting a few of the ones I liked. Oh. My. My friends have very strong opinions about fashion. No black! No navy! You need bright colors! Looks like a mother-of-the-bride dress!
(Well, yeah. It is. They don’t label them Agatha Awards Banquet Dresses. Although I think they should.)

I was told I should wear red.
No, green. Definitely that blue one. No, hate the blue one.

It was so much fun! Like the fashionistas on the red carpet picking apart J-Lo’s latest haute couture.

Entertainment value aside, I couldn’t select any of the Nominees for Agatha Banquet Dress 2016 without first trying them on. With my good gal pal Jessi Pizzurro in tow, we headed to the mall to buy The Dress.

I started with three that met my criteria. No plunging necklines. Must have sleeves. Cocktail or tea length. Of those first three, one was a maybe. Two were NO FRIGGIN’ WAY. I handed those out to my able assistant who had wrangled several more. One was gown length. Another had a very low neckline. I told her, no. She said, “Try them on!

“Yes, ma’am.”

This went on for close to two hours.

At some point, she brought me a navy blue number with a full skirt, lots of fabric and a very low neckline. I said, “No!” She said, “Try it on!

“Yes, ma’am.”

I tried it on. And I didn’t hate it. What I did hate was that my friend and able assistant was totally right. The dress didn’t look like much on the hanger, but it looked pretty darned cute on me!

Eventually we had it narrowed down to that one and two others. My head was spinning, so we hid them on a rack near the fitting room and went for a walk through the mall, just in case one of the other stores had something I liked better. They didn’t. But while walking, my subconscious kept fixating on that one dress that looked sort of okay on the hanger, but pretty cute on me.

Yes, that’s the one I bought.

This is it.

It’s darker than it shows up in the photo. You’ll have to wait for the Agathas to see it on me, though.

Which brings me to the next conundrum. Shoes! What do you think? Navy? Silver? Beige? And accessories? I’m thinking pearls, but I’m open to suggestions.

HANK:  Oh, black shoes. (My answer to everything, though. No matter what the question.)  And no necklace. Big earrings, instead.  But that's just me.  And I agree on one major thing: always try it on.  
So, fashionistas—what’s the shoe verdict?  And do you watch Project Runway? Say Yes to the Dress?  Why--or why not?


Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. BRIDGES BURNED has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel of 2015, and WITH A VENGEANCE, the fourth in the series, will be available this May. 
Annette's Agatha nominee is BRIDGES BURNED---but her new book is:

With a Vengeance

Paramedic Zoe Chambers and the rest of rural Monongahela County’s EMS and fire personnel are used to wading into the middle of trouble to rescue the sick and the injured. But when someone with an ax to grind seeks retribution by staging accident scenes and gunning down the first responders, Zoe finds herself forced to not only treat her own brethren of the front lines, but also, in her role as deputy coroner, seek out whoever is killing her friends.

 At the same time, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams races to track down a gun, a mysterious all-terrain vehicle, and the sniper before Zoe goes back on duty, placing herself—and Pete—firmly in the gunman’s crosshairs.


  1. Dress? The one you like the best. Shoes? Comfortable is the most important consideration, color is secondary.
    “Project Runway?” “Say Yes to the Dress?” I’m not particularly fond of reality television and don’t watch either show.
    Of course, I’ve had those “What should I wear?” moments, but I’m definitely not the most fashion savvy person around and, despite the trends and styles of the moment, I tend to wear what I like. I think if you’re happy with your outfit, and feel comfortable in it, then that is what you should wear. Have a wonderful time at the banquet!

  2. Thanks, Joan! I intend to have a blast at the banquet. It's going to be a Cinderella night, minus Prince Charming who's staying home with the cat. Speaking of...I wonder if Cinderella's glass slippers were comfortable. Probably not.

    Comfort versus appearance. My friend and able assistant has the exact opposite answer. "For the big night, forget comfort! Go for great-looking shoes!"

    Black shoes, Hank? Okay. If I don't find anything else, I do have a pair of black platform pumps.

  3. I love the color. And you love the dress! Since I've never seen you NOT look good in what you wear, Annette, it's perfect. I don't have credentials to be your shoe adviser, I'm afraid. Now, will you come dress shopping with me?

  4. Love the dress! So glad you tried it on, always try them on even if they look like nothing special. It's you that makes it special--and the shoes. I agree with your assistant. Go all out on the shoes, and try on every style, color and heel you see. Personally, I'm a gold shoe girl because it's a clean line on the leg without being beige. However, I do love a floral or funky shoe every now and then. So, my vote is go gold with earrings and a bracelet and a different colored, brighter bag. And this is what happens when I comment while drinking super strong coffee first thing in the morning - so many opinions! Good luck accessory shopping and have fun at the awards.

  5. I echo Edith, you always look fab, Annette! That's a great dress, though I personally liked the green one someone saw hanging in the window [wink, wink]. Black pumps, can't go wrong with them. Same for pearls.

    I can't imagine buying shoes or a dress without first trying it on. That would be like buying a book without reading the first page!


  6. Thanks so much, everyone! You're all so sweet. Considering my standard attire is jeans or yoga pants, it's good to hear I do okay when I make a public appearance!

    Edith, I'd love to go dress shopping with you. It's so much fun to spend other people's money!

    Karen, I've actually been thinking about gold for shoes. Hmm...

    Ramona, that dress in the window was too funny.

  7. You can never go wrong with pearls...

  8. Annette, I HAVE THAT DRESS! But in burgundy. It was my "mother of the the groom" dress and um, I was planning to wear it to the banquet!!! I guess I need to go to my fall-back dress...

  9. Hi, Annette (waving!) Take pictures at the banquet! I want to see it on you.

    I used to watch Project Runway. Loved it... until it got too tied up in the drama among the contestants and I stopped believing the judges and Tim Gunn turned into a wuss. I've never see Say Yes...

    But I have shopped with my daughter for her bridal gown. We went to the once-a-year sample sale at Priscilla's on Newbury St. during a blizzard (we took the subway), expected lines, and were the only people there. My daughter had her pick of the litter and ended up buying the first dress she tried on... after trying on so many more I can't even begin to tell you. Her gown was an elegant, simple, light as a feather silk strapless number that caressed her body like a cloud. I love that she let me come with her.

  10. Hi, Annette - I love The Dress. Since you need new shoes, go with the fabulous nude patent leather pumps that they have out now ala Kate Middleton.

  11. Aw, what a sweet story, Hallie! (waving back, by the way)

    Oh, there will be pictures galore, I'm sure. ESPECIALLY if Joyce wears her burgundy version and we look like Bobbsey Twins!

    For the record, I've never seen Project Runway OR Say Yes. I'm soooo not "with it."

  12. Thanks, Martha! And I've been giving those serious thought as well.

  13. Although I sometimes think we were separated at birth, I'll wear my 1940s style dress instead!

  14. Seriously, Joyce. It's scary sometimes!

  15. Oh my gosh… Of all the dresses in all of the world, you and Joyce came up with the same dress! That is hilarious and ridiculous. But you both must have fabulous taste! Yes, Annette, you always look perfect.

  16. I've had so much fun following this on Facebook. Can't wait to see the final results at the banquet. A part of me is very sad that you and Joyce didn't show up in the same dress. That would have been pretty fab.

  17. Gold is a good idea! You just have to see how it looks… You know? And yes, there are some beautiful fun florals right now, too…. Hmm.! What a fun process!

  18. And trying on wedding dresses… Is such a life altering moment! My step daughter in law took me with her when she was shopping, because her mom lives in California, We knew instantly when she had tried on the right dress… There's just something that happens, that lets you know it's perfect.
    And Priscilla's used to be very draconian about trying on dresses on non-sale days. The sales person would bring you three. Only three. They would tell you they could tell which is the one you should buy. And if you insisted on trying more, they made you come back for another appointment.
    Possibly that is why the store went out of business. :-)

  19. Hank, I'm glad I revealed my dress here before Joyce and I DID show up wearing the same dress. Since we're rooming together at Malice, we'd have gotten the shock well before appearing together at dinner! I'll be laughing about this all day!

    J.A., I'm glad you enjoyed cyber window shopping with me. It's amazing how those posts took off!

  20. By the way, I'll be slipping out this afternoon to visit my mom AND to go shoe shopping! I'll check in later and let you know what, if anything, I found.

  21. Such a fun post, can't wait to see pix! My daughter gets all her fancy dresses from RENT THE RUNWAY, and she always looks fab. However, I became frozen when I looked at the site--what if the dress was shipped to the wedding or whatever and looked just dreadful on??

  22. Comfy shoes a must. If your feet hurt, it shows up on your face. Looking forward to see Zoe go through a similar experience, perhaps with the help,of her mother? In an upcoming book.

  23. Exactly, Roberta! I love some of the pictures I saw, but time is running short. What if the dress I ordered looked hideous or didn't fit? Sure I could return it. But I'd still be without a dress and facing a ticking clock. Malice is only TWO WEEKS AWAY.

  24. S.E., I love that idea! Kimberly forcing Zoe into KILLER shoes...literally!

    The shoes I wore last year were excruciating, but I was on Cloud Nine, so I didn't notice. Then I wore them a few other times and constantly searched for a chair. Now the idea of putting them on again gives me chills.

    I did try on a few pair the day we went dress shopping, and they all HURT! And were expensive! I walked out figuring I could go to some cheapy footwear store and get shoes that hurt for way less money!

  25. Hi Hank. Stacy's partner's name is Clinton. I used to love that show. And yes, I am a devoted Project Runway watcher. I have never missed an episode.

    As for the dress Annette, I think it looks perfect. I'll let the other ladies direct you on shoes, but I tend to agree with Hank, black.

    Good luck and enjoy the banquet!

  26. Thanks, Kristopher.

    I remember always hearing black with blue was a no-no. I gather that's no longer the case, because if Hank says it's okay, then it's definitely OKAY. :-D

  27. Reader, I brought it home.

    Oh, my. Guilty, on the MOB part. Sorry, Annette! Can't wait to see you, and the dress, at the banquet. I'm wildly excited for all your success. I can say I knew you when.

    As for your question, Hank, I so rarely watch TV (exception: Dancing With the Stars). However, I started following the Project Rungay blog, way back when PR began. Tom and Lorenzo did such an amazing job of analysis of every show and and every designer that I never felt as though I missed anything by not actually watching. (They now call them site T-Lo.) I've never seen any of Chopped or Say Yes to the Dress.

  28. Annette, will be looking out for Zoe--another new author is like a gift that keeps on giving! Oh yes, trying the dress on to see how it looks/fits--only way to go--but, buy shoes for looks AND comfort--they're out there--you can't enjoy the banquet if your feet hurt! And why should we have to put up with feet that hurt just to look stylish?

  29. Oh, if shoes hurt when you try them on, they're always always always going to hurt. No matter how pretty or wonderful they are, forget about them. Right ? There's Nothing you can do to make them OK.

  30. Karen, I can't wait to see you at Malice! Hugs all around!

    FChurch, nice to meet you! I hope you enjoy Zoe. And I hope you're right about shoes! My feet are just too used to sneakers and cowboy boots, I guess.

  31. I'm voting for black shoes with the dress. With most any dress. So versatile. Love Hank's suggestion of a big earrings, but I'm thinking a small delicate pendant for the necklace.

    My actual opinion, anything will look great on you Annette!

  32. Hank, I so agree. The salesman used the old "they'll stretch" line on me. Umm, no. They won't.

  33. Aw, thanks, Kait! I have navy and (fake) diamond chandelier earrings that I might go with if I don't do pearls.

    Which leads to the next question: Hair? Up? Or down?

  34. Wow, I check it at 10:00 and so many comments!

    I tell my girl: you always have to try it on. Because something that looks awful on the hanger may look fabulous on you.

    I love this color, Annette - even if you say it's darker. With that neckline, skip the necklace. Hank is right - big earrings. The chandeliers would be perfect.

    I am very anti-black shoes with this one. Silver or gold - depending on the metal color of the earrings. With a metallic, it's going to be flashy no matter the heel height so yes, make sure they're comfy. I've heard the "they'll stretch" line, too. Yeah, right. You could do a floral with blue or maybe red accents (you'll have to compare them to the color of the dress) as well.

    Hair up. You don't want anything competing with that neckline.

    Take a ton of pictures (Martha & Joyce - make sure she does!). And how funny that you and Joyce have the same dress in different colors. =)

    Hank, I used to watch WNTW with Stacy and Clinton all the time. I loved that show and was so sad when it ended. I got so many helpful tips (the most important being ignore the size number; buy for fit). I can't watch "Say Yes" because I want to throttle the bride. The Girl is a big Project Runway fan; I watched the season where the plus-size designer with the purple hair won, but I haven't seen any of it since.

  35. On the hair: whichever way makes you feel less self-conscious. The more comfortable you feel, the less you will worry about how you look and just enjoy yourself. Which, after all, you should do. This kind of fun doesn't happen every day!

  36. I love the dress! I'm with the silver or gold contingent re: shoes (black will end up looking like you're wearing a bruise - I do black and navy together too often, and I always regret it!). And your hair is great - you could wear it up or down, either way.

  37. Mary, Martha isn't going to Malice this year. It'll be me, Joyce, Vickie Thompson, and Nancy Martin representing the Pittsburgh Sisters in Crime.

    So true, Karen! Like I said. Cinderella!

    Thanks, Ina. I have a salon appointment (color, gel nails) right before Malice and my hair gal is supposed to help me figure out some style options. But that doesn't mean it'll look the same when I attempt to do it myself!

  38. I love the dress, too! When I read your original question about shoes, silver was the answer that popped for me. But I agree, if you select gold tones in your jewelry, then gold would be nice for the shoes. I would steer clear of navy because it really could clash, and black seems merely adequate for a night when you're looking for much more than that.

    I used to be a huge fan of What Not to Wear, but in general I'm not fond of reality TV and none of the others you mentioned have captured my interest.

    BTW, I was not familiar with your work prior to this and now am looking forward to reading the Zoe Chambers books.

  39. Oh absolutely -- The number of the size does not matter one bit! They do it to fool you, or entice you, but it matters not.

  40. And I am loving the blue and black controversy! I am firmly on the black with dark blue side. I actually often wear a black suit with bright blue shoes, or a navy dress with black shoes. Because it is very difficult to match blues, and you don't want to look matchy. As Heidi Klum always says :-)

  41. I also wear black with brown… How about that for being a risk taker? :-)

  42. Hank, you always look so well put-together and polished, nothing is a risk if you're wearing it!

    I did start out looking at navy shoes and soon realized that wasn't going to work. If I decide on black, though, I think I need a touch of bling on the shoes. The ones I already own are too business-like.

  43. I think it's the balance with a longer, fuller skirt, Hank. Black would look heavy with that, whereas with a shorter, tighter skirt it looks sharp.

    Congrats, Annette! You're going to look FAB.

    I'll toss in on the gold or silver side, although I love the idea of florals as well. A floral kitten heel would be very of-the-moment and comfortable, too. Get a clutch that pulls out one of the shoe colors and you have a nice pop of color. I am all about the pop of color.

  44. I also wear black with brown. =)

    See the thing about a black dress with bright blue shoes is it's a pop of color. The Girl did this with her winter format dress this year (her high school formal, for which she did not have a date - not the one where she DID have a date - although she wore the same shoes). Electric blue shoes with a black lace dress and it looked great.

    But a blue dress with black shoes is - uninspiring. I mean you CAN do it, but there are so many other options that would pop more. No, you wouldn't look "matchy," and I wouldn't do a blue dress with blue shoes, but I think there are other colors/patterns that would look better, you know? Especially for an occasion such as this!

  45. Susan,thanks so much! I hope you enjoy Zoe and her adventures. Misadventures? Disasters? Oh, well. I hope you enjoy the books!

  46. Thanks so much, Julia! Okay, no black. I'm leaning toward silver at the moment, so I can wear my silver Pandora bracelet. But I like the pop of color thing, too.

    Mary, I definitely do NOT want to look uninspired!

  47. Silver strappy sandals -- and silver jewelry --

  48. Another vote for silver! Thanks Denise Ann!

  49. Well, Reds and friends, I'm heading out to visit my mom (96 years old this past Sunday!) and then off to shoe shop! Thanks for all your advice. I'll check back in when I get home and let you know what I bought!

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. And cannot wait to see what you buy! I am off to Chicago,(the wonderful Lisle Library)! and then Madison Wisconsin to keynote at the writers conference… With my very high heeled slinky black suede shoes in my suitcase. :-) To be worn with a black dress, and a black and blue leather motorcycle jacket . See you all when I arrive!

  52. I think silver would look great. And the hair up to show off the neckline. I can bring hairpins, curling irons, flat irons, hot rollers, whatever. Yes, I have all that stuff. And never use any of it anymore, lol.

  53. Annette, your journey to the right dress reminded me of my journey to my wedding dress 40 years ago. My mother and I had gone to Cincinnati to hit the downtown shops and find that perfect dress. After trying on quite a few, I was in the dressing room of McAlpin's getting ready to try on several more dresses when my mother saw a dress hanging up that someone had tried and put on the discarded rack. My mother had to talk me into trying the dress on, as I didn't particularly like how it looked on the hanger. Well, as happened with you, Annette, it was the bridal gown that I had been dreaming of once I got it on.

    I'm not imaginative at all with shoes. It's not that I don't like them and find them fun. It's just that I am unwilling to do the work to find the perfect pair. Having said that, I love Julia's idea of the floral shoes with a clutch in a popping color for you, Annette. Your dress is beautiful, and I wish I were going to be at Malice to see everyone's gorgeous looks.

  54. It looks like the perfect dress for you! Great color. I agree with Hank about black shoes. A trick I learned many years ago, is to buy dressy shoes a half size larger so you'll be comfortable all night. Have a wonderful night and post pictures!

  55. Have a wonderful (and safe!) trip, Hank! Thanks again for having me here!

    Joyce, I have all the hair doo-dads, too. And since we're driving instead of flying, I can bring ALL of them!

    Kathy, what a lovely story about shopping with your mom!

    Hi, Ruth! And thanks. Yes, there will definitely be photos.

  56. Okay, I'm home and I have SHOES. After trying on a lot of exquisitely painful pumps, I ended up with TWO pair from Famous Footwear and they're almost comfortable! I couldn't make up my mind and they were on sale, so I got both. You may see me in one pair at the banquet and the other later at the bar.

    Both are high heeled platform pumps. One pair is dark navy and looks great with the dress or with jeans. The other pair is nude patent leather. I tried on several silver pairs. None fit. And I tried on one pair of florals that would have been FABULOUS...except I was weeping before I could get the second shoe on. I'd have had to cut off my little toe. They were gorgeous, but not THAT gorgeous.

  57. Diane Russom HarrisonApril 14, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    I think these would be lovely. They come in a beautiful silver satin. Dressy yet comfortable.

  58. I love that you got both of them! A girl after my own heart! See you soon… xxxx

  59. Can't wait to see you in Bethesda, Hank! TWO WEEKS!