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  #1  
Old March 7th, 2011, 01:41 PM
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Default Clothing advice for a “mature” lady on her first cruise – what to wear in the evening

My mum is accompanying us on the Queen Victoria in July.

She is an elegant, petite, grey haired lady of mature years (she’d kill me if I revealed her age!)...who likes stylish, “classic” clothes.

Having previously been on the QV and the QM ourselves, I can give her some idea of what I saw ladies wearing...but I really have no idea as to what to advise her on being a canny dresser!

(After all, we blokes have only ever have to worry about one suit, one sports jacket & trousers, and an evening suit!)

She is loathe to spend large sums of money on lots of frocks and evening gowns that she “might not get the wear out of” and she does not have access to a large budget.

That being said, she still wants to be able to dress up and dress well – without having to sell the remains of our inheritance to achieve the desired effect. (But I am sure, that we will be helping her out to buy at least one really glam frock for the formal evenings)

I know that there are many other female cruisers (along with their husbands, partners, sons, etc), who have wrestled with this challenge and I would greatly value any tips and advice that you can give, which I can pass on to my mother.

Thank you
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:04 PM
NomDePlume NomDePlume is offline
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I quickly checked your itinerary, and noticed 6 sea days--but I doubt you'll have that many formal nights.

I have always found that the trick is not so much in changing the whole outfit for each night as it is in changing the "bling". In other words, pick simple, elegant basic pieces, and vary the accessories. The way you describe her, I suspect she would have little difficulty in following that simple advice--a floor-length or three-quarter length skirt can each be worn three different ways (and the last can even do double duty on semi-formal nights) with the addition of an unadorned top or two, and ad hoc jewelry. And while black is beautiful, I find navy, dark grey or brown much more flattering, at least in day time

As for that "bling", one can find well priced pieces that are virtually undistinguishable from the "real" thing. Unless one takes a very, very close look. And what lady would let that happen???

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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Devon Bloke View Post
My mum is accompanying us on the Queen Victoria in July.

She is an elegant, petite, grey haired lady of mature years (she’d kill me if I revealed her age!)...who likes stylish, “classic” clothes.

Having previously been on the QV and the QM ourselves, I can give her some idea of what I saw ladies wearing...but I really have no idea as to what to advise her on being a canny dresser!

(After all, we blokes have only ever have to worry about one suit, one sports jacket & trousers, and an evening suit!)

She is loathe to spend large sums of money on lots of frocks and evening gowns that she “might not get the wear out of” and she does not have access to a large budget.

That being said, she still wants to be able to dress up and dress well – without having to sell the remains of our inheritance to achieve the desired effect. (But I am sure, that we will be helping her out to buy at least one really glam frock for the formal evenings)

I know that there are many other female cruisers (along with their husbands, partners, sons, etc), who have wrestled with this challenge and I would greatly value any tips and advice that you can give, which I can pass on to my mother.

Thank you
I take it you are talking about formal evenings. I have found that a very simple long black gown can be changed by adding a different jacket, or scarf or bling as already suggested.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:29 PM
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And I concur with the ladies above. I have silver hair and find black or a deep merlot are stunning in the evening lighting onboard. A long black skirt can be very elegant paired with a couple of interesting tops and different evening shawls. "Bling', real or fake, makes everything look good....a lady can carry both off with grace and style. There are many stylish evening jackets that can elevate a simple long black skirt into the stratosphere.

Nom's idea of a tea length black skirt is fabulous as it will indeed work for both formal or informal evenings. Your mum needn't blow the budget on things she won't wear again if she chooses tops carefully.

I do hope you can splash out on one extra special evening gown however.....nothing makes a lady feel more special than an elegant gown worn in dramatic surroundings while on the arm of her son. What a perfect time for that formal photo so you will never forget that moment. She's a lucky lady to be making such a voyage with her son, something I've always wanted to be able to do. However, for the next couple of months I must be content to eagerly await my first grandchild's arrival....maybe I'll take him instead some day!

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Old March 7th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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Devon Bloke,

The advice you have had from both NomDePlume and indeed Patwell is absolutely spot on.

I wish you a wonderful cruise with your Mother. I am sure you will enjoy every moment.

Best

Judy
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Old March 7th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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Many thanks for your replies so far. All really helpful.


The evening dress code break down for this cruise is 4 Formal; 3 Semi-formal and 5 Elegant Casual.

They occur over the cruise like this

1.Elegant Casual
2.Formal
3.Formal
4.Semi Formal
5.Semi Formal
6.Semi Formal
7.Elegant Casual
8.Elegant Casual
9.Formal
10.Elegant Casual
11.Formal
12.Elegant Casual

I’m interested in all types of the dress code for mum – not just the Formal.

As regards “bling”, she says that she won’t be taking her Cartier and Tiffany pieces on this trip – they’re just too heavy and cumbersome!

But, I’m sure there are a few bits of “glass n glimmer” that can be found at the back of her dressing table draws which would do the job!

Any further advice from anyone would be much appreciated.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 04:58 PM
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One more thought if I may--and prompted by Penny's suggestion: if you're in Britannia, the Captain's reception is likely to be the first Formal evening, traditionally Cunard's Black and White Ball. There will be a sea of photographers lined up all over the ship, and you will be photographed (and possibly video-taped) whilst shaking hands with the Captain. This would be the perfect photo-op that Penny spoke of...

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Old March 7th, 2011, 05:59 PM
Sea rabbit Sea rabbit is offline
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Default Dress agencies

Hi, I am going on my first cruise in July and currently researching what i need to shop for. I don't know Exeter well but guess there would be a few dress agencies about the place. I love a bargain and have seen designer dresses and separates in these shops. If your mom is not averse to second hand clothes/vintage (although very classy) can get some really good stuff. Tend not to be cheap but a lot cheaper than buying in the boutiques brand new. The shops are usually located in the more affluent areas in any city/town. Also as your mom is petite some of the outlet villages have designer dresses etc at greatly reduced prices (being a more 'curvaceous' woman I wouldn't get my left leg in most of the outfits). Have a fab time.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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Just to take what Sea Rabbit said a bit farther. Just yesterday on C.C. there was a thing about the QE and the hats that were seen on board for the christening. One lady interviewed said she got her hat (very lovely and matched her outfit well) from the second hand/charity shop for about 8 pounds. So, have a look see and you might get very lucky.

Also, tell her not to pack a hat as it really isn't neccessary, she'll be able to make one on board if you are having an Ascot Ball. I know firsthand how terrible it is to pack a hat it was a trial and to me a waste of space.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Sauer-kraut View Post
Just to take what Sea Rabbit said a bit farther. Just yesterday on C.C. there was a thing about the QE and the hats that were seen on board for the christening. One lady interviewed said she got her hat (very lovely and matched her outfit well) from the second hand/charity shop for about 8 pounds. So, have a look see and you might get very lucky.

Also, tell her not to pack a hat as it really isn't neccessary, she'll be able to make one on board if you are having an Ascot Ball. I know firsthand how terrible it is to pack a hat it was a trial and to me a waste of space.
And just think how many hats may be in second hand/charity shops after the upcoming wedding this spring. I imagine there will be some wonderful buys!
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Old March 7th, 2011, 08:51 PM
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Plenty of lead time, an obsession with ebay and the ability to look up sizing charts can net some amazing deals on even top name merchandise with the tags still on (NWT or BNWT). There is also a thread in the fashion section here where people give away clothing. As others have said, often charity shops end up with some lovely things, including mother-or-granny-of-the-bride gowns.

Please remind your mum that you do a surprising amount of walking and standing on a ship. I recommend choosing evening footwear that's a half size big to allow for any swelling. (Personally I think peeptoe slingbacks are the best for comfort and most attractive on a mature woman)
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Old March 8th, 2011, 12:57 AM
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Hi Devon Bloke. Wonderful advice given already. Just to second advice regarding Charity sales: my mum was also reluctant to buy new 'fancy' clothes because she also felt they would be used often enough. So I found a shop whose proceeds went to a charity Mum supported. In that shop, I found beautiful, well made clothes (some never worn) at an amazing price - had them dry cleaned, and gave them to my mother. Not only did she look great in the clothes, but a charity also benefited.

On my first of 8 QM2 voyages, the most difficult thing for me was deciding how to dress for "elegant casual evenings". Being from NY, I went with the local formual: when in doubt, wear black. So for the first elegant casual evening, I wore black trouses and a black silk shirt. Happily, the two other women at our table for silk also wore black trousers and sweater or shirt. Simple jewlery. Low heels. What I remember most is what lovely conversations we had that night - quite amazing for strangers to get along so well (and that continued for rest of the voyage!).

My personal hint is to pack silk shirts, trousers and skirts. Whenever I see a clothing item made of silk in my size on sale, I snap it up. Easily packable, washable, works for any climate and can go from casual to semi (or even formal) with the right accessories. I'm not really big on "sparkly" clothes, but I did buy a black sequin top just for fun, and I do enjoy wearing it upon occasion on QM2 with a pair of black palazzo pants on a semi-formal night.

BTW, many women donate back the gently worn clothes they bought from our local charity shop (after they have been dry-cleaned), so the circle continues, there is no waste and a charity benefits.

Regards to your Mum. She has a very thoughtful son with a very thoughtful mate.

Cheers,
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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Thanks for your advice and your kind comments. What a nice bunch of people there are in this chat room.

I shall pass on this advice and the tips to mum - I'm sure that she will apprectiate them.

In the UK we have chain of mid-range (price & quality) department stores called Debenhams. I went in there to have a look in the ladies department our local Debenhams (Exeter) at what they had to offer, (BOY was I out of my comfort zone!) to give some heads up help for mum... I found out that they do a free personal shopper service. The personal shopper in the store showed me that they have a nice little private office/reception area, where you get a 2 hour consultation, they find out what the customer is looking for, they bring the clothes to you and there is a large comfortable changing room next to the office.

She told me that they are used to helping ladies with my mothers needs. She showed me a photo and letter from a 90 yr old local Devon couple who had been one of her customers. The lady was going up to Buckingham Palace to recieve her MBE for services to bell ringing at her local church. The lady looked grand!

I think I have found a partial solution to this now! Mum hates shopping for clothes - more so since she got more aches n pains in her bones. This personal shopper might well be the answer linked with the advice and tips you have all given.

The last time I went clothes shopping with my mum was when we took her on holiday to San Francisco in the spring of '98. There were a number of weddings to attend that Summer, so I suggested to her that maybe she'd like to get a couple of frocks there - the dollar to pound exchange rate was very much in our favour. And, hey, San Francisco is known as a good place to shop.

We traipsed around the various stores - most of which had extensive "petite" departments for a woman of my mum's stature. We saw loads of really nice dresses...none of which mum could decide on. After about 2 hours, we were at the top floor of Neiman Marcus and she looked at me and said "I don't know dear, maybe you could take me to Marks and Spencers in Exeter when we get back"! ( )

For those of you who don't know the store it has central atrium that goes all the way up to the top floor. We were on the top floor when she said this to me - I almost committed matricide and threw her over the railings! Now I know why my late father never went shopping with her!

I'm sure it won't come to that this time!

Once again, thanks for your help and advice.

Cheers

Andy
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:43 AM
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Once in an act of sweet revenge I dragged my wife round 15 pubs only to go back to the first one to buy my pint.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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Once in an act of sweet revenge I dragged my wife round 15 pubs only to go back to the first one to buy my pint.
Gari
That sounds like a night out in Dublin, where you leave a perfectly good and comfortable pub to walk 2 miles to to a crowded pub with no seats and the same Guinness, and on the way you walk past 20 perfectly acceptable pubs. will never understand it.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Hi DevonBloke,
we are in Exeter and although my wife gets quite a few gowns on ebay she has bought some lovely dresses in TK MAXX in Exeter.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:17 PM
Salacia Salacia is offline
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Devon Bloke, just to add to the shopping list: a stylish caftan or similiar beach attire for your Mum to wear while lounging by the pool, comfortable rubber soled sandals, and a scarf to keep her hairdo in place while strolling the deck. I also pack a straw hat and beach bag to hold a book, suncreen, bottle of water, etc. (Oh darn! Now I'm thinking of all those hours I spent in restful bliss at the Pavillion Pool on QM2 -wishing I was there now!) Hope your mum finds the salt sea air and sunshine melts away her aches and pains - my mom said it worked for her)
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Old March 10th, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Garigoun: Impossible to drag mum to lots of different pubs...she’d sit in one and expect all the drinks to be brought to her!

Capnpugwash: You must have been on the same pub crawl in Dublin that I was on a while back. In the end we left Temple Bar, flagged down a taxi and asked him to take us to a decent “traditional” pub away from all the tourists. He took us to a brilliant one, with plenty of “fiddle-de-dee” music and lots of singing (which suited my partner to a tee as he’s Irish!)...and good cheap Guinness. But am damned if I can remember the name of the pub now. All I can remember is that by the end of the night, everyone was my new best friend, we’d sang what seemed like every song in the Irish song repertoire and stumbled out into a taxi at 1 in the morning!

Mallorcasaint: Forgot about TK Maxx – thanks. Am already on the case with eBay! Good to hear from you, sir.

Salacia: Have added your comments to the list.

Cheers
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Old March 10th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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We've been cruising for a few years now. Im a petite lady of 38 years, and LOVE to dress up in gowns and cocktail dresses. However, I don't have the budget for fancy stuff so ...

1. Hubby bought me a few formal gowns from Debenhams (good choice - but beware, their size 8-10s go quick and they are generous, I find I need them taking in) to get me started. I have worn and worn them over the years and still have lots of wear in them. Some were full price (around £120) some were sale price (£40).

2. Wedding dress shops do rails of bridesmaid/evg dresses in lovely colours, often at reduced rates in the sale. Worth taking a look.

3. Ebay. 80% of my dresses are from Ebay and they are all either Monsoon or designer one-offs. I have NEVER paid more than £40 for any dress, including two which are worth in the thousands. Yes, Ive bought a couple that were not much cop but at £10-£20 it really didnt matter. Ive also bought all my accessories - costume jewllery and handbags from Ebay and some shoes too. I get the dresses dry cleaned and altered (I had - just moved unfortunately - sobs!- a fabulous dressmaker who did alterations very reasonably) and I have had some lovely compliments over the years.

3. Formal evgs are when it is worth wearing a full length gown - really go for it! You dont often get the chance. For semi-formal - a lovely mid-calf cocktail dress and little jacket or shrug, and for elegant casual, I usually wear a Monsoon longish dress, unstructured, but jazzed up with some nice jewellery and accessories.

4. Shoes - be aware - feet swell on board. i don't know for the life of me why, but they do. Don't bother with tights or stockings - go for a longer length skirt or dress instead and have a nice pedicure. Now is the opportunity to wear delicate heels and pretty shoes that won't get ruined as yuo will be treading on soft carpet all evening.

5. Sizing - be prepared that the dress you wear at the beginning of the cruise won't fit you at the end! I always have some outfits with me that will allow for expanding waistlines, and which will allow me to enjoy my dinner later on in the cruise without worrying about popping off my sequins!

6. And finally ... enjoy dressing up! It's the highlight of my cruise, getting 'poshed up', and having a ball from 7 pm until 1 am every night in glittering clothes I'd never normally get to wear!

Hope this all helps.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 02:29 PM
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Andy, all the ladies on this thread will want to adopt you! I think using a personal shopper is brilliant! From what you have told us about your Mom, she seems to be a little unsure about making a shopping decision. The personal shopper can make her feel more confident about her decisions. I have a feeling your Mom would have a hard time ordering anything from ebay. The advice you have gotten from others on this thread is excellent. With so many days on your cruise and so many different dress codes, I think that a basic black dress or skirt with a variety of jackets, scarves, shawls, and jewelry would be an ideal solution for many of the nights. If the personal shopper helps your Mom with several outfits that can be mixed for a variety of looks, ask the shopper to write down a list of all the possible outfits. Remember that there is nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit more than once. Your Mom is going to look amazing in whatever she chooses. She will be escorted by two very handsome men and I'm sure she will feel like she is the Belle of the Ball. Be sure to go to the Queen's Room at least once and enjoy a dance with your Mom. That would make a wonderful memory for her. Please let us know about the shopping trip and then report back after the cruise to tell us how fabulous she looked each night.
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