Back in February, I bought a gorgeous new little black dress. I was invited to the Washington Automotive Press Association’s 30th Anniversary Gala in Washington, DC. I was assured it was going to be a fancy event and I would rather be overdressed than underdressed.
It was a beautiful cut and very age appropriate but I was concerned it was a little too snug in all the wrong places (no fault of the dress). I tried every variety of shapewear hoping it would fix all my problems. But I’m one of those women that shapewear just doesn’t work for. It may smooth out the bumps but it somehow makes me look wider and is extremely uncomfortable.
So I put on my new Cole Haan black patent pumps, did my best to stand just right, suck it in, and rock that dress. It was a good hair day and my makeup looked just right. And then someone asked me if I was expecting.
I know you all just did a collective sigh. Because as a woman who ISN’T pregnant, that’s about the worst thing you can hear.
But I laughed it off, tried my best to enjoy the evening, and hung that dress up determined never to wear it again unless I hadn’t eaten for three weeks. My confidence was blown.
And now my confidence is back.
While attending Blogger Bash last week in NYC, I was selected to be part of an exclusive fashion experience with Project Gravitas, an up and coming fashion company that sells confidence in the form of little black dresses. Let me show what I mean by that.
Lisa Sun, Founder & CEO of Project Gravitas, is the first to tell you the inspiration that started the company. She wanted women, like herself, to be able to find that one dress or skirt or jacket, that makes you strong and confident.
If you happened to watch the Periscope broadcast I did before Blogger Bash, I gave some fashion advice for the event. Wear what makes you feel good. It wasn’t about what made you look good. It was about what made you feel good because that will change how you project yourself in a professional setting.
In an ideal world, what makes you feel good also makes you look good. And that was the goal when I set out with six other fabulous women (of all shapes and sizes) to the Garment District to see what Project Gravitas was all about.
After talking with Lisa about her story and meeting Henry, one of her Designers, and Susanne, her Marketing Director, (why didn’t I get a picture of the fabulous Henry or Susanna?), we talked about fabrics and colors and washability and packability and everything that goes into the process of making a design the perfect dress.
One important point that the team was proud of was the fact that their dresses are entirely made in NYC, especially since only 3% of garments are now fully made there. And to prove it, we took a walk to their factory.
First stop was the pattern making shop. It was a small operation with highly skilled women created the patterns that will eventually be used for production.
And then we headed to a separate floor for a separate group of women that work on production clothing for Project Gravitas and other designers you’d never even know!
When asked my reaction of the tour, I had to say I was surprised. I guess I didn’t expect to see real people sitting and making real clothes. I’m so used to everything being scaled for mass production that it’s nice to see real craftsmanship at work.
But hardest part of the experience was still to come. We had to find the right piece for us and model it the next day at a fashion show.
Trying on designer clothes sounds fun, right? It is, for the most part. Except for when the first thing you do is apologize for the features you have that just aren’t going to work properly with so many beautiful pieces of clothing. I was reminded that there is nothing to apologize for with our bodies. We’re all built differently and we all deserve a chance to be confident and feel beautiful.
With Lisa as my personal stylist, we tried on at least five outfits until I found the one that she thought was flattering and that I felt good in.
We ended up with the Clara dress, described as:
This elegant take on the crop-top dress provides ample coverage yet riffs on the season’s trend. Artfully designed, the overlay gives the illusion of an hourglass midsection and the half sleeves provide coverage where it counts. The bodice is trimmed with satin details giving this sheath a note of glamour to go from desk to dinner.
Fun fact: all of the dresses are named after famous women. Mine is named for Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross.
Now, you might thing a crop top is not the style dress that a women mistaken for PREGNANT would want to wear. But there’s a secret behind the dress. Or should I say under this dress.
It comes with built-in shapewear. When stepping into the dress, you simply step inside the shapewear and pull it up just under your bra line.
The bottom of the shapewear is lined with lace with silicon grip to keep the hemline in place.
And the result is? Confidence.
It didn’t make me look like a size 2. Let’s be honest. I’m not. I’m a size 8 like many of you.
We had smaller sizes in our group and larger sizes in our group. And we all looked and felt beautiful.
Right before we went on stage to show off our fashion finds, I had two additional confidence boosters.
The first came from Lisa herself who complimented me on my late night run to Macy’s on 34th Street the night before to find just the right shoes (you guys, they have an entire floor devoted just to women’s shoes). Apparently my nude pumps elongated my legs so score one for me and short girls everywhere!
And the second came when Maria Bailey, one of the original entrepreneurs in the mom space, gave me a (small) hug and said, “Oh, I have that dress.” If a powerhouse like Maria can work this dress, then so can I!
Thank you, Lisa Sun, for helping women like me (and all over the world) learn the real meaning of gravitas!
Now, you’re wondering HOW and WHERE can I get a dress like that? Visit the Shop at Project Gravitas online. And bring your credit card because quality and confidence come at a price.
The Clara Dress, like I’m wearing, retails for $328 but I know it’s a dress that will last for years.
(Next on my list is the Josephine, a combination cape/blazer, a “confidence piece” that can be dressed up or down!)