1 In Getting Dressed

What to wear to your high school reunion

My BFF from West Fargo High School is not going to her reunion this weekend. Patricia, is too busy getting the crops in up near Duluth, Minnesota. But you might have a high school reunion coming up and the panic of “What would I wear?” should not stop you from going!

I’ve dealt with these events a lot with my clients. Today I’m sharing my tried-and-true tips for putting your best foot back into that gymnasium or the hotel banquet hall where all the big people hang out. With a little forethought, you’re going to be the one leaving a great impression. Everyone will be saying, “You didn’t get older, you just got better.”

Here we go. Ready?


7 Tips for getting the right outfit and on your terms

1. Don’t go on a diet.

You’re not on the wrestling team trying to make weight. You’re just right the way you are. Check that off your list.

2. Delight yourself.

Wear something that defines you wholeheartedly and makes you happy. Try to know what that happy thing is at least a week before the shindig. If it takes you a while to figure out what delights you, you have a bigger project on your hands (but a very worthwhile one). Give yourself time.


Love bright colors? Wear one! Love the shine of metallic? Wear it!

Love bright colors? Wear one! Love the shine of metallic? Wear silver!

3. Dare to stand out as YOU.

You’ve been out of H.S. being “you” in the wild, wild, world of grownups longer than you were in school. If you want to ask a friend what she’s wearing, okay, go ahead. But you don’t have to copy her; you never have to fit in again. Do your thing.

4. What makes you feel pretty? What makes you feel sexy? Wear that!

But try it on right now and be sure it’s just like you remembered it: fabulous and fitting perfectly!


Do you feel pretty in prints? Wear prints!

Do you feel pretty in prints? Wear prints!


5. Consider wearing a dress.

I know they don’t work for everyone. You may be a pant and top kind of gal, but slipping into a dress and zipping it up is the best kind of fast fashion.

Caution: The only thing to watch out for is sheerness. This is hard to detect by yourself. I was sitting at the bar at the girl and the fig enjoying the best hamburger in Sonoma when a woman pulled the front door open. The strong six p.m. light was behind her. Once the door closed and she stepped to the side of the hostess stand, everything was private again, but for those few seconds, nothing was private. Get a tester you trust (close friend) or better yet, wear a slip.


I'm willing to wear this shapewear on occasion.

I’m willing to wear this shapewear on occasion.


6. Wear shapewear with discretion.

There are people who wear shapewear (Spanx, Yummie Tummie, Wacoal, DKNY) like they wear underwear—every day of the week. If this is you, you’ll be wearing shapers during your reunion whether you’re in a dress or a pant or a jumpsuit because that’s the way you roll.

Some people avoid shapewear like hard candy—they don’t go near it.

Others, like me, treat shapewear like trans fats. I mostly avoid them but I can’t walk away from Oreo cookies if they’re staring me in the face. I will indulge. If looking smooth, like the filling in that Oreo cookie kind of smooth, is important to me, I will wear a comfortable shaper to even things out. Sometimes going for that extra credit is worth it.

If you are brand new to shapers, I don’t trust you to buy one and wear it for the first time on reunion night. Don’t do it! The temptation is to buy shapewear a size smaller than your regular size. It’s not like you’re going to get double the strength if it’s smaller. You’ll get pain and discomfort.

You don’t want shapewear that makes you break out in a sweat trying to get into it or worse yet, dislocates your shoulder as you pull-pull-pull it up. If you’re a newbie, stay away! Choose to wear something that gives you ease and comfort, as is.


Dig out a festive shoe to wear to your event.

Dig out a festive shoe to wear to your event.


7. Don’t plan to wear your curb-to-bar heeled knee-high boots or your thirty-minute leopard print heels to your high school reunion.

I know they’re adorable, maybe even spectacular, but either choice will be painful in a short amount of time.

When Oprah was doing her daily show out of Chicago, she only wore those high-heeled, red-bottomed Louboutin’s from the very edge of the stage to her chair and then she sat down, remember? She’s no dummy.

Chances are you’re going to be doing a lot of standing around. A pained look on your face will defeat your efforts to look happy, successful, and inviting. Instead wear your two-to-four hour shoes.

Don’t buy new shoes the day before the reunion. You need to give them that two-hour test and see if they pass. I am assuming you’ll be sitting part of the time. If not, go for the four-hour test.

If the whole subject of shoes is a sore one, don’t fret. Design your outfit from the feet up. That’s okay. I do it all the time for my clients. That’s being smart, straight-A smart.


Ready to get out there and shine? Go for it!

Anybody have a high school reunion story to share?



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1 Comment

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Hi, Brenda!
    That is a great point, like when you go to New York City: you MUST have comfortable shoes. Yet at a reunion, they have to look great too! Thanks for the helpful pointers you’ve covered here. This is the most complete guidance I’ve found on the internet for what to wear to a class reunion.

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