Pamela Lutrell wears pants for a formal event

I do not know if any of you are like me, but when I am faced with what I should wear to a formal event, it is the toughest situation of them all!  I immediately lapse into Formal-Attire-Shopping-Anxiety!

Months ago, my husband told me we were to be guests at this year’s Marine Ball in San Antonio.  He has a friend who he loves and respects so much, who is a retired Marine and works at the same company as my husband.  He was thrilled to be asked to attend this event.  It is full of honor, pageantry, patriotism and fun.

Marine Ball 2019 San Antonio TX

My stomach immediately began to hurt, as it does anytime we are asked to go to a formal event.  I asked others who had attended the Marine Ball and universally they said, YES! You need a gown.  I read blogs.  One blog went so far as to say, “If you are not going to wear heels, then just don’t go!”  Seriously?  I could see me telling my husband…Sorry honey, I cannot attend because I have hammer toes!

Shopping for an evening gown is an issue I have dreaded and faced many times.  The last event I attended was a formal wedding during the holidays and I wore a gown and felt like the Goodyear Blimp all evening.  Any way, the first issue is money.  In order to find something that is flattering and appropriately youthful, it costs.  When formal events are not an everyday occurrence, then the cost per wear goes up and it is difficult to justify the expense.

In the more affordable lines, the designs are just…..well, wrong.  Most of them have serious fit issues.  They are way too tight and if you move upwards in size then they are too big in a few areas.  Adding the costs of alterations again becomes difficult to justify.  Design options for those of us who are curvy often result in looking like we are 90!  So, the options become to look like sausage or like a great, great grandmother rather than the grandmother I am.  I hope some budding designer is listening.  There is an opening and opportunity for the collection that gets this right!

This shopping always brings me to tears in a dressing room somewhere.  I shopped for months for this event.

Of course, some of you are thinking….RENT THE GOWN.  Again, for larger ladies, it is not that easy.  To rent means facing time to receive the clothing and return the clothing.  After shopping for so many gowns, I am not convinced I would hit it first order. I do not have time to play RENT THE RUNWAY Bingo.

So, a couple of weeks ago, in a dressing room, surrounded by frustration and garments which did not fit, I looked in the mirror and said, “Dare I have the courage to be me and wear pants?”  I feel more confident and comfortable in pants….but could I pull it off in a ballroom full of gowns?

I selected some pant outfits to take home and try on for my husband plus I took a couple of possible gown- options so he could see for himself what I face.

Pamela Lutrell attends Marine Ball 2019

Thank goodness, he agreed.  The pants I am wearing are tuxedo pants by Chico’s and have a velvet tuxedo stripe up the leg.  After looking at some lovely tops, we decided we liked this Alex Evening from Dillard’s the best.

Over 50 Feeling 40 in tuxedo pants from Chico's

What was even better…I had it already in my closet because I did wear it to a fashion evening event a couple of years ago. But, I wore it over flowy dress pants and again did not feel confident.  This set is still available and I have it in the slide show below.

Marine Ball San Antonio 2019

Did I feel out of place?  Actually, no.  There were female Marines in their dress blues and one other woman I saw in a formal pant outfit.  But, I did feel appropriate and confident. I believe I would have felt that way if I was the only woman in pants.

Pamela Lutrell in Rockport flats for a formal event

My lovely flat shoes are by Rockport…very comfy and I am so glad I did not listen to the woman who said stay home.  Although I did see some gorgeous shoes, like these. 


Over 50 Feeling 40 finds high heels at Marine Ball

My other accessories included these lovely clip earrings I found at Steinmart, very comfy, and a vintage handbag from one of our family members.  The nail color…I just love it…is called Vampsterdam by OPI.  It is gorgeous.

Pamela Lutrell accessories for a formal event

Finally, I want to thank the Marines and all of the men and women who serve us and protect us and put their lives on the line for us.  It was an honor to spend an evening with so many of these brave, inspiring individuals in one room.  It is kind of silly I get so stressed over a dress when going to an event that represents so much more than my outfit.  I think often when we hear the words ball…formal…wedding…evening…that if we are older and curvier…we make more of it than we need to.  From now on I am just going to go as “me” and not worry about trying to be someone else.

Does anyone else have the same Formal-Attire-Shopping-Anxieties that I get?  Please share if you know what I am talking about…………..


And join me as we


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