The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, January 19, 2007, Columns

JINGLE JANGLE It was the Jingle Ball, dammit, not the Jingle Cocktail Party. So what was with all the cocktail dresses? This affair at Saengerrunde Hall is one of the best parties in town; there are 20 hosts who each invite 20 guests. It's an annual shindig with no agenda, no cover, and tons of fun. It's a fancy-dress ball, and the wonderful Nash Hernandez Orchestra plays all the great standards to dance to. What's so difficult about dressing for that? A ball is a formal event and has very simple requirements: long dresses for the women and tuxes for the men. We are dealing with Austin, of course, so we make allowances. "Creative formal wear" is fine, as long as we remember that the key word is "formal." Texas tuxedos are acceptable, but an evening gown is a requirement. And don't even start with me, missy, with the "I can't afford to buy a ball gown" nonsense. One of my favorite dresses there was from Savers, and there were wonderful vintage pieces. But some of the choices were absolutely deplorable. I'm trying to imagine the thought process that went on in one gentleman's head as he was getting ready: "OK, I'm going to a fabulous private ball where everyone's going to be decked out to the nines. What should I wear? Hmmm, I think that khaki Dockers, a Hawaiian shirt, and tennis shoes would be cool." Wrong. He should be prosecuted for that. Or the woman who must have thought, "A fancy dress ball. OK, I think I'll wear the strapless black taffeta cocktail dress, but it's going to be cold, so I'll put on this thermal undershirt first." Whatever! The lowest of the low was the woman in the striped knit beach cover-up over cropped bell bottoms; her lack of make-up was hardly complemented by blond, stringy hair with 2 inches of gray grown out. What's fine for a picnic at the trailer park is not fine for the Jingle Ball. Don't get me wrong; there were gorgeous gowns there: flame-red, one-shouldered columns; black beaded sheaths with bare backs; white-on-white embroidery on tulle; and furs, furs, furs (primarily vintage, of course). Most of the men were dashing in tuxes with crisp bow ties or brocade dinner jackets with ascots and stickpins. But those were the appropriate ensembles that we expected to see, so the inappropriately dressed attendees stuck out like really bad sore thumbs – big, aching, festering sore thumbs, to be succinct. I felt like Carrie White's mother from the movie Carrie when she says, "Take off the dress. We'll burn it together and pray for forgiveness."

HALL OF FAME-ING Coming up on Friday, March 9, is a very special Texas Film Hall of Fame, the annual star-studded, jewel-encrusted, rootin' tootin' event honoring the legacy of Texas and Texans in film. This year is a posthumous tribute to TFHOF's legendary emcee, former Gov. Ann Richards. Honorees at the 2007 awards ceremony will include Elizabeth Avellán, Betty Buckley, Richard Linklater, and Bill Paxton. With presenter Ellen Burstyn, emcee Liz Smith, and special guests Lily Tomlin and Anna Deavere Smith, TFHOF will also induct the movie Terms of Endearment, introduced by special guest Shirley MacLaine. Wowowow. Not to be missed! Tables are $5,000-25,000 and can be reserved at

AGENDA Friday, Jan. 19, 7:30pm, at Bass Concert Hall, Austin Lyric Opera presents the American premiere of Philip Glass' opera Waiting for the Barbarians. This prestigious event is attracting worldwide attention to ALO. Details and info on additional performances can be seen at… Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27, 11am-6pm, at the Palmer Events Center, Le Garage Sale presents its Boutique and Home Sale, featuring 45 clothing, accessory, and home decor vendors with participating stores like By George, Estilo, the Garden Room, Shiki, and Therapy. This is the largest event for the producers so far. Further info is at… Saturday, Feb. 3, 7-11:30pm, at various locations, Project Transitions pre-sents its 10th annual Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? dinner, a fundraiser in which 25 distinguished Austinites open their homes and host dinner parties for anywhere from five to 75 guests, who will then reconvene at Nest (1009 W. Sixth) for a champagne and dessert reception. Tickets are $100, and more details are at

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