I also apologize that I haven't been able to respond to all of the fabulous reader comments on this blog. (I can't believe I get reader comments! Woo hoo!) Please know that I read them carefully, take the feedback seriously, and I love getting those fashion conversations rolling, so please keep the comments coming. So, DA da-da. . .
I went with the black dress. The full outfit included the black long-sleeved Ann Taylor dress, Spanx that cost almost as much as said dress, black heels, a double strand necklace, and fake pearl earrings. The accessories were a little anti-climactic--I just ran out of time--but they seemed okay for the teacher/mom/economist's wife look.
The dinner itself was both fabulous and nerve-wracking. I can't give too many details, but let's just say the second we arrived, my husband was whisked off to work on a speech upstairs and I was left with a drink in my shaking hands, trying to decide if it was okay to ask people where they land their private jets in the city. (A note on the shaking hands: I prefer to think it was the winter weather and not nerves that made my hands shake for the first twenty minutes of the party, but either way it's not easy to hold a wine glass and a napkin while balancing in heels and making small talk.) No major incidents, but I stuck to white wine and just said "no, thanks" to all hand-held foods, just in case.
At the sit-down dinner itself, my neighbors were friendly and remarkably easy to talk to. I basically held up my end of the conversation by linking every topic back to middle school English. ("You wrote a book about the economic crisis? Tell me about the writing process. . . Do you outline first?") It was actually a lot of fun! Not to mention that I had about one-degree of separation between each person and teaching one of their relatives' kids. (Seriously! Who has two thumbs and taught the VIP's Hollywood Star-son-in-law middle school theater in '95? This girl!) They were all professional conversationalists anyway, so my "no major incidents" plan went a long way.
When I woke up this morning, I felt a little like Cinderella after the ball, so I decided to wear my ironic boots to school for the first time and they put a little spring in my step. Thanks, all.