Night of Hope 2023: Finding the perfect dress…

by Brandi Lytle
Night of Hope 2023: Finding the perfect dress, on Not So Mommy..., a childless & infertility blog
Wobble Warning:  Fabulous one, I truly believe that you will find much of this blog quite empowering.  Because I do not know where you are on your journey, I’m not sure what might cause you to wobble.  So, I want to let you know that I do discuss RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, the family building community, my husband, and my mom during this blog. 

On 6 November 2023, I received the Hope Award for Social Influence at the Night of Hope, a gala held in NYC by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.  It was an absolutely magical evening.  Before I tell you all about it, however, I’d like to go back to the beginning of this journey…

Finding out I was receiving the Hope Award for Social Influence…

In August, I found out that RESOLVE wanted to honor me with the 2023 Hope Award for Social Influence.  (You can read more about that here.)  I also found out that there would be a gala in NYC where I would receive my award.  Woah!  Though it might sound vain, one of the first things I thought about was what I would wear to this fancy event where “cocktail attire” was encouraged.  I mean, Dane and I aren’t exactly “fancy people.”  In fact, we had never been to an event this fancy in our lives!

Googling Cocktail Attire…

So, the first thing I did was google “cocktail attire.”  I learned that it’s not as fancy as “black-tie,” so Dane could wear smart trousers and a sports jacket.  But no jeans.  Short dresses, and even an elegant romper, were okay for women.  Long, flowy ballgowns were too over the top, however.  That was a bit of a bummer because I like long dresses.  In fact, I’ve never worn a short dress to a fancy event.  On the upside, cocktail attire allows for guests to show some personality.  My research said you could “be creative!”  Yay!

Starting to look for the perfect outfit…

Since the gala would be in November…  I’m cold-natured…  Tending to get even colder when I’m nervous to the point of physically shaking…  I decided to search out an elegant romper.  Long pants, long sleeves.  Yup.  That’s what I should get.  In dark blue.  It’ll bring out my eyes.

So, I found one.  A long sleeve, long pants, dark blue romper.

But was it elegant enough for this fancy gala where I’d be on stage receiving an award?

I just wasn’t sure.

Dane wasn’t sure.

And my friend, Sue Johnston of the In-fertility Advocate, who received the Hope Award for Service at the gala last year…  Well, she said the honorees usually stepped it up a bit, going more formal.  So, I decided to look for a dress.

Finding the perfect dress…

Dane and I went to the mall.  It’s the first time I’ve ever looked for a special occasion dress with him.  We have different tastes.  So, I’ve always taken my mom in the past.  But since we don’t live in the same state anymore, that wasn’t an option.

I knew I wanted a long dress.  I was worried about getting cold.  And Sue said it was okay to be a bit fancier.  I thought I wanted blue.  Maybe pink.  Not black.  I love velvet, but I was worried about packing it and the fabric getting crushed.  Definitely did not want sequins.  I was concerned they would make weird bright spots when the flash from picture-taking hit them.  But I truly had no idea about the actual style, cut, neckline…

Store #1

Zero luck.  Didn’t even try anything on.

Store #2

We grabbed some dresses.  I tried a few on.  Wow.  That pink one did NOT look good on me!  The dark blue one was beautiful in the back.  But soooo boring in the front!  And the photos will be from the front…  Right?  I can’t look over my shoulder all night.  Strapless.  Nope.  Just doesn’t work for me.

Store #3

Grabbing dresses…  “That one looks nice,” said Dane about a dark purple velvet dress with a slit up to mid-thigh, killer neckline, and spaghetti straps.  Not at all what I envisioned…  But I grabbed it.  Tried it on.  And…  Yup.  I think this is the one.  Maybe?  Let’s buy it.  But keep looking just in case.

Store #4

Oh my gosh!  A dark blue velvet dress with feathers?!  What?!  Now, that might just be it!  Ummm…  Nope.  The v-neck really does nothing for me.  It’s the purple one.  Definitely the purple one.  The tight purple one.  With the rouging that I hope will hide my endo belly.  Oh, I’ve got to get back on my low-carb diet and lose at least 5 pounds!

So, we found the dress!  And then…

The Accessories…

I had to find the shoes, the jewelry, the purse, the shawl…

We had to find Dane’s outfit.

How would I do my hair?  Make-up?

Man, I’m putting a lot of thought into this!

The Diet…

For a week, I tried super hard on low-carb, depriving myself of sweets and bread and all things yummy.  And I freaking gained a pound!  WTH!  So, I made a decision.  I would NOT get on the scale before the Night of Hope.  I didn’t want that number making me feel fat or ugly or like my dress wasn’t going to fit well.  Honestly, I still haven’t gotten on the scale.  Might not until January.  But I digress…

The Shoes…

I ordered shoes online.  After googling “peacock shoes.”  Why did I decide I needed peacock shoes?  Well, because I wanted to be unique!  And because I don’t normally wear heels, so finding fancy shoes that weren’t spiked heels that would totally pinch my toes was a bit of a challenge.  But my shoes…  They were actually comfortable!

The Purse…

I ordered a purse online.  Yup.  That’ll work.  A bit plain, but that’s okay.  The purse is not the focus.

The Jewelry…

I ordered jewelry online.  First set of earrings.  Nope.  Too small.  Second set of earrings.  Yup.  I think I like these.  Just have to make sure my hair doesn’t get caught in them.  First necklace.  Oh, that’s too much.  Dane liked it.  But I wasn’t sure.  Ordered a second necklace.  I think that’s better.  Much simpler.  I mean, my research says you should only have one statement piece.  My earrings should be the statement, right?  Oh.  Maybe I do need to ask my mom, my best friend…  They like the over-the-top necklace.  So does my step-dad.  But Dane says the more understated.  Oh no!  Totally confused.  I’ll pack both…

The Shawl…

What about a shawl?  I mean, I’m wearing a spaghetti strap dress in November!  Dane thinks fur.  Ordered one online.  Love it!  Oh.  Wait.  It’s getting white fuzz on my velvet dress!  Crap!  Washed it.  Doesn’t shed as much, but…  Ordered a satin shawl.  Oh.  That’s way too boring!  I’ll risk wearing the fur.  Just gotta remember to pack the lint mitt.  Does it fit in my purse?!

Back to the Jewelry…

Back to the jewelry.  Oh, who cares what the “fashion experts” say?!  I can wear totally blingy earrings and a totally blingy necklace on this special night!  Right?!  I mean, Dane’s jacket is spectacular!  I think my jewelry should make a statement, too!

Who cares about the rules?!

And that’s when I found my footing…  I stopped googling “can you wear sparkly earrings and sparkly necklace together?”  “Is it okay to wear fur with open-toed strappy heels?”  “What type of dress should you wear to a cocktail party?”  I mean…  Who cares what the rules say?!

And that inspired my answer to a question RESOLVE asked me before the Night of Hope…

What makes the family building community remarkable?

“We are rule breakers!  Honestly, most people would say I’m a ‘rule follower.’  But when it comes to building a family…  Well, who says that must be mom, dad, and biological kid conceived the old-fashioned way?  The infertility community gets that there are no ‘rules.’  Maybe your family was built through IVF, surrogacy, adoption—domestic, international, foster care, or embryo.  Perhaps it was built through redefining momhood as a dog mom or host mom.  Maybe you have one kid.  Or perhaps, like me, you collect kiddos through family and friends.  When it comes to building a family, we make our own rules!”

And my words…  Well, RESOLVE paraphrased them when introducing me at the Night of Hope.

The Magical Night of Hope 2023…

Oh, that magical night.  Where I felt totally fabulous and beautiful!  I have no idea how much I weighed.  I wore the statement sparkly earrings and the over-the-top sparkly necklace!  With the fur and the open-toed sparkly heels.  And I did NOT stand to the side and inspect my belly in the mirror.  I looked at myself straight on and thought I looked pretty darn spectacular, if I do say so myself!  I mean, why look at myself from a perspective that might make me feel anything less than fabulous?

Let me say that again.

Why look at yourself from a perspective that might make you feel anything less than fabulous?!

Why I have rambled on about finding my dress…

Now, why have I rambled on about finding my dress for the Night of Hope?  Well, as I said, I truly believe I looked flippin’ fabulous at the gala!  But getting to the point where I felt flippin’ fabulous…  That took time.  It took questions, vacillation, even some tears.  Real Talk.  I had a moment where I panicked and thought, “Did I make the right decision?!  Is this dress really right for the Night of Hope?!”

It also took some help.  I looked to Dane and my mom, my best friend, my step-dad.  And I called in the professionals at GlamSquad to do my hair and make-up.  I just didn’t have the skills to elevate my look that much for such a fancy night.

Let’s talk about childlessness…

I think people look at me sometimes, listen to me talk about the bright sides of my childless life, read about me feeling that I am now “beyond childless” and forget…  Or perhaps don’t realize…  To get to this point in my journey took time.  It took many, many questions, much vacillation, and more tears than I can count.  I second-guessed myself.  Sometimes still do…

Getting to the point where I love my childless life 99% of the time…  Well, that also took some help.  I looked to friends and family.  I started Not So Mommy… and discovered the fabulous infertility and childless not by choice communities.  And something I rarely share…  I saw a therapist for awhile to help me when I was struggling with self-esteem issues and finding balance in my life.

I say all of this because…

Fabulous one, as the holidays approach, please do NOT look at your life from a perspective that will make you feel less beautiful.  Stay off the scale!  Stop worrying about the rules.  Be open to discovering the perfect dress that might look nothing like what you envisioned.  Be gentle with yourself as you vacillate and wonder and question.  Allow yourself to trust yourself.  You know what you want.  What you need…

I want to tell you more about the Night of Hope.  The video shown.  The acceptance remarks I made.  The absolutely magical night.  With the absolute perfect compliment.  And the wobble I had after the magical night.  But that’s for another blog…

I’ll write more.  Hope you’ll come back to read more.

Until then…

Flaunt Your Fabulous!

HUGS…

Oh!  And do you wanna see the perfect dress?!  Well, here it is…

Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy..., Creator of the Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon, & Recipient of the 2023 Hope Award for Social Influence

Brandi Lytle, Founder of Not So Mommy... & Recipient of the Hope Award for Social Influence, with her husband, Dane

Photo of peacock shoes on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blogBrandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy..., received the 2023 Hope Award for Social Influence from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

If anything I wrote resonates with you, please tell us about it in the comments.  (You can put your name as an initial if you’d like to remain anonymous.)

If you’d like to see more photos from the Night of Hope 2023 Gala, just click here…

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Featured Photo:  Created by me, using Canva

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2 comments

Sherry November 20, 2023 - 3:08 pm

I’ll never get over how you can put a life event into such perspective. You nailed it yet again. You. Are. Fabulous!

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Brandi Lytle November 28, 2023 - 10:56 am

Awwww! THANK YOU! 🙂

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