What Will I Wear: A $12 Dress!

I debated about writing this post. It could really help some hostesses who struggle with image, or it could come across as a bit … arrogant … sharing about my clothes when I hosted this particular dinner party!

But I’m going with the first thought. Because I know where my heart is and I want to share with others that it’s okay – that you don’t have to “look the part” like movie stars or Martha Stewart, when you host a dinner party.

Years ago, one tip I did learn, when it came down to the last hour of getting ready for the arrival of my guests, was to KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO WEAR. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’ve taken the time to invite the guests, plan the meal, set the table, maybe even clean the house (although not mandatory in my mind – sometimes it happens, sometimes not!) – and then you go to your closet and can’t think of what to wear.

1. Always try to lay your clothes out, or know in your mind what to wear.
2. Don’t over-dress if you know the night is going to be casual.
3. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Buy a few dresses that work well for entertaining.
4. Don’t wear complicated jewelry or big scarves that will hang into the food. Keep it simple!
5. Make sure your shoes are comfortable for the evening.
6. Make sure that you feel beautiful, so your love drips over onto your guests.
7. If you are married, dress for your spouse. Wear something that he will love to look across the table and see you in.

In my case, I picked up this $12 dress at Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart. No, they are not paying me to talk about their store right now, but I fell in love with this dress and for $12, I just knew I’d get a lot of dinner parties out of it. (Oops, the bean dip was spilling here!)

Don’t worry about having to “look the part” Hollywood style when your guests come into your home.

Keep it simple, find some hostess outfits that fit your budget, and most of all, make sure your heart is right – that you are ready to put yourself aside and love on your guests.

Hospitality is not about you. It’s about the people coming to your home!

Even in a $12 dress.

Do you worry about what you’ll wear when hostessing a dinner party?

(Thanks Cousin Anni, for having fun with me and the camera! And for your amazing blog. Just take a peek at this post! Yummy, look at all those beans in that dip above! Recipe coming out in my new book … The Reluctant Entertainer!)

63 comments on “What Will I Wear: A $12 Dress!”

  1. I agree. I am a much better hostess if I feel put together myself and in appropriate attire. Summer is the best because you can slip on a dress and cute shoes, accessorize and be done with it. And my husband likes dresses:) New follower!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday… =-.

    • Thanks for becoming a new follower. And I agree, summer is easy to dress up and have fun with cute dresses and shoes (all inexpensive!). :)

  2. Love this post! You are so right-it’s about our guests. As for what I wear, I go for something that makes me feel good about myself.
    Love that affordable dress!
    .-= Darcie´s last blog ..Holy Moley. A Story About A Mole, A Bra, And A Saw. =-.

  3. you have gorgeous legs.

    and yes, I try to ALWAYS wear something my man will like. I want him to like what I have on more than what anyone else is wearing. I have issues.
    .-= The Nester´s last blog ..Beefed Up Canvas =-.

    • Oh, don’t embarrass me!

      Issues. Well, it’s better than no issues. Or maybe that doesn’t make sense.

      Your sister commented how you loved reading my book. I told her how funny it was that YOU got to read the gallies before me.

      Oh, it’s so Nester-ish. xo

  4. This was a wonderful post it didn’t come across any other way then genuine. I always just try and wear what makes me feel confident. Everyone is used to my quirkiness by now :)
    .-= Tickled Red´s last blog ..Put your heels up! =-.

  5. Love this post! And you look adorable in your dress. Bean dip and all. :)

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prepped for a party…cooked, cleaned, foofed the house…then gone upstairs to get ready and realized I had no idea what I was going to wear. It stresses me out at the last minute.

    When I’ve already decided what I’m wearing, I’m much more relaxed.

    And you’re so right about dressing for your man. I just snapped up a dress on super-sale at Down East Basics. I think it’s a little va-va-va-voom and I’ve been saving it for a night out with my man. We’re having dinner together (ALONE!) on Saturday to celebrate his birthday. I’ll be pulling out the new dress. Can’t wait!
    .-= Kimba´s last blog ..Evolution of a Bedroom ~ The Window Treatments =-.

  6. Love the post! And the pics are awesome as always!!! The dip looks similar to one I make and it doesn’t last long in our house!! Actually I need to go make some now!

    I probably don’t think about what I wear enough..it’s usually what I already have on or what is comfortable (not that I’d wear something uncomfortable). One thing I’m always aware of is that sometimes I let what I wear whether for a party or just everyday fall to the wayside!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. ADORABLE dress…and I love that you included the pic of the bean dip spill!!! : )

    Thanks for posting my new button! Love ya, girl!
    .-= the BLAH BLAH BLAHgr´s last blog ..TAP TAP TAP, IS THIS THING ON? =-.

  8. First of all, you are adorable. And second, I love how you always bring it back to the marriage. Dress for your spouse…so perfect. This others-centered hospitality is so fantastically wonderful. I can’t wait to read your book. Nester said she loved it!
    .-= emily´s last blog ..home is . . . =-.

    • Nester got to read my book before I did. She got the gallies before me, isn’t that SO FUNNY?

      It’s just like Nester to do something like that.

      Cracks me up.

  9. You look beautiful! I’d be showing that off in a heartbeat!! I was just thinking the other day how I don’t entertain anymore. I miss it. I’ve got some fab summer dresses in my closet so maybe that will inspire me to whip out a summer partay!
    .-= Mary Jean Taylor´s last blog ..Mr. Fuggles =-.

    • Just make sure and invite me. What state do you live in again? I’m serious! :) Esp. since you ate/cooked with My First Kitchen (another favorite!) :)

  10. Sandy – I’m so glad that you decided to share these thoughts. I never premeditate the outfit and then I have that moment of “agh! I have nothing to wear!” This is wear the sparkling personality comes in – if the hostess is wearing an outfit from 1987, but she’s fun and warm and making the evening enjoyable, who cares what she’s wearing?
    You look fabulous by the way, and your guests are so lucky they get the invite to YOUR house! Such a cute dress! H&M is another great place for a fun outfit on a dime!

  11. Love the dress – I am always hot when we entertain – too much adrenaline! (and I’m such a cold person) so this would be perfect.

    But let’s talk about what’s TRULY important…THE SHOES! LOVE THE SANDALS! And love the outtake…charming! You are adorable.

  12. Great tip – I try to think of ahead too; what will wash easily if I spill something? What will look nice but allow me free movement?
    And, great note on dressing for our husbands. I always try to be mindful of how low cut a top is (bending over the stir, serve, etc.), short the bottom is and what will match his own level of comfort with what he wears.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Birthing Class #2: Shock & Awe =-.

  13. I would’ve never guessed that dress was from Wal-Mart! It’s been years since I’ve been clothing shopping because I always feel guilty buying new clothes when there are other things to spend money on. But it’s inspiring to see such a pretty dress at such a great price and to realize treating myself doesn’t have to be expensive. Thanks for the great inspiration!
    .-= Kim ´s last blog ..Taste Test: Purevia Sweetener =-.

  14. You’re lovely as always!
    .-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home´s last blog ..Handcrafted Natural Soap Giveaway! =-.

  15. This dress looks great and for only $12 what a bargain! Getting your outfit laid out is a great tip – I could do with trying to do that more often!
    .-= Jade @ No Longer 25´s last blog ..Karma Haiku =-.

  16. Great job avoiding that spill and great camera work Cousin Anni capturing the moment! :0)
    .-= ellen b´s last blog ..Tablescape Thursday ~ Mother’s Day =-.

  17. Lovely post…and such great reminders! The dress is perfect in style, comfort and mileage…you’ll wear it again and again, I’m sure! Very nice!
    .-= betsy´s last blog ..Theme Thursday = Mystery =-.

  18. You look darling!!!!!!!!! And the bean dip spilling photo should calm any fears that anyone could think you arrogant! :) I’m sitting here with my head cocked trying to think of my clothing issues when entertaining- I guess I don’t give it any more thought that I normally do (which doesn’t mean I don’t fret) and what makes it funny is when my husband checks to see that he isn’t under dressed or will make ME look under dressed! ha!
    .-= Tara G.´s last blog ..The Pink Potty =-.

  19. A very cute post. And after spending all afternoon yesterday looking for a dress to wear to the Boys’ graduation….timely.

    By the way…you have helped to inspire me in the apron department. I posted about them again today.

    Have a great day!!!

    Becky K.
    .-= Becky K.´s last blog ..Aprons from a Yard Sale =-.

  20. Yup, I struggle with not having anything to wear ever. Good advice!!!
    .-= Suzann´s last blog ..She’s Sixteen, She’s Beautiful, and She’s My Daughter =-.

  21. I loved this post, Sandy!

    You’re absolutely right: hospitality is about our guests, not about us. But it’s so easy to keep the emphasis on ourselves if we’re not careful. Your tips are great ones for taking care of ourselves so that we can be free to think about our guests!

    And I love that you got this dress for $12. Just goes to show that you can dress nicely and feel beautiful without spending a lot of money–and you can do it even if you’re not good at thrifting. On Mother’s Day I wore a new dress on which I received so many compliments. . . and it was a dress I bought for just a few dollars at Ross!

    Lastly, thank you for encouraging women to dress for their husbands. I love that advice!
    .-= Richella´s last blog ..On being honest =-.

    • One of my favorite winter dresses I bought at a yard sale for $1. It’s classic black and I wear it year after year … :)

  22. You look so pretty in that top photo! (all of them, but especially in #1.
    I buy cute dresses from Anthropologie on eBay… nothing over $40! (But not as cheap as $12 — that’s amazing!)
    .-= Melissa D´s last blog ..Working, working, working =-.

  23. I love this post Sandy! You are so right about being comfortable and gracious. By the way, I think you do look like a movie star :) AND I’m going to have to give those dresses at Walmart another look.

    • Oh, no movie star here. LOL. I think I should get a % from Wal Mart now on the sales of those dresses! :)

  24. Oh I have to be comfortable when I am home even when I’m having people over, so comfort is my key. So I try to put together something that is appropriate yet comfy. Because I want to have a good time too!!!
    Love the picture of you dripping bean juice! LOL! It’s so me but I’d be falling into the pool behind you.
    .-= Kim @ Homesteader’s Heart´s last blog ..Seriously, What can top a post about Baking Soda? =-.

  25. I loved this post! So laid-back and so assuring. I definately benefited and I’m sure many others will too.

    That bean dip sounds delish, too.
    .-= Bevy´s last blog ..: simple beauty : =-.

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