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A Celebrity’s Look, For Less

By Isabel Kallman

Long time listener, first time caller. I’m in love with a dress….but how do I find it? Actress Elizabeth Banks wore the cutest little pink sheath with a portrait collar to present the Golden Globes nominations. (See it here.) This is exactly what I’m looking for in a rehearsal dinner dress: feminine, structured, and not black. But how do I go about finding it? I e-mailed the Fug Girls, and they had no suggestions for who designed it or how to find out (but they were very nice).
So I appeal to you for help. How would one go about finding this dress? Bonus points if it’s available in a 16.

So, I don’t attend Fashion Week, I don’t subscribe to Vogue, and I totally need the Internet to tell me when Project Runway contestants like, TOTALLY rip off Balenciaga’s 2006 Spring line. And also how to spell “Balenciaga.” But still, you people are adorable with the “who designed it?” questions. LIKE I HAVE A CLUE. ADORABLE, I TELL YOU.
Most of the time, my Googling is just as fruitless as yours. (Apologies to Beth, who asked about Katherine Heigl’s little black dress from 27 Dresses. Usually movie wardrobe pieces can be identified via fashion forums or at . I did find info on other clothes from that movie, but came up dry on that particular dress.) Sometimes I get lucky if the photo agency (like Getty Images) includes that info in the photo’s caption,
or if the photo gets picked up for a fashion magazine’s website. Which — ta daaa! — is what happened this time.
Behold: InStyle’s Look of the Day for December 15th. Elizabeth Banks in Peter Som. (She’s the small picture you can click to enlarge but cannot actually link directly to, annoyingly enough.)
elizabeth banksNow here’s where it gets sticky. The dress does not appear to be from any of his current collections, and isn’t available at any of the online retailers his website cites as carrying his clothes (eLuxury, Neiman Marcus, Saks, etc.) Is it from a previous years’ collection? A custom design for Banks? I have no idea. I CAN tell you that I also think it’s a drop dead fabulous dress…and that judging from the other Peter Som dresses that ARE available online, it would cost you a couple thousand dollars, and the largest size available would most likely be a 12.
A few possible alternatives in a slightly similar silhouette, perhaps? With price tags that do NOT contain commas, maybe?
Here’s a belted trench dress by Kay Unger. Or this folded collar belted dress by David Meister. (No size 16 online for that one, but I do believe David Meister designs do go up to a 16, so you might be able to find it elsewhere.) Here’s a dress by Diane von Furstenberg in a similar shade of pink. And a simple belted crepe dress by Maggy London. Heck, even good old Banana Republic has something in the same ballpark.
I could probably list a few dozen more, but you get the idea. Oftentimes, knowing the specific actual dress and designer is almost irrelevant for those of us living out here in the real world, with real bodies and budgets. What’s really important is knowing what you like, and finding something similar. And if the Internet and Project Runway have taught me anything: it’s that in fashion, there’s ALWAYS something that looks AWFULLY similar to everything else.


Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • alexa

    December 22, 2008 at 10:58 am

    If you have your heart set on that dress, you could always bring the photo to a seamstress and I bet they could recreate it for you, and it would fit your particular shape to a tee.

  • Kailee

    December 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I really like the Kay Unger dress. BE-YOO-TI-FUL!
    And, another suggestion, is to employ the help of the “personal shoppers” at places like Neiman’s or Sak’s or Macy’s.
    I know that sounds like a la-di-dah rich husband, Mercedes SUV, extra skim latte thing to do, but those people are SUPREMELY helpful when you’re looking for a special occassion dress. And lots of department stores have that service at no extra cost! WIN.
    Neiman Marcus even has an online personal shopper tool. Just fill out some info, send it off, and TA-DA! Pretty dresses at your fingertips.
    Good luck and God speed…

  • Umi

    December 23, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Wow, great find on the yellow belted trench from Kay Unger. It’s really similar to the original pink dress, and beautiful in its own right. ARgh! I want it!

  • MP

    December 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm
    This J.Crew dress looks similar, but it looks like it only goes up to a 14. But it’s super cute and on sale.

  • Sonja von Franck

    December 26, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Way to go Amalah! You nailed it on finding the Kay Unger dress! Now I’ll just send many-many good lucks to your writer that she finds this or something like it for her event.

  • beccado

    December 30, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Just an FYI, David Meister dresses are AMAZING. They always fit me like a dream and somehow magically hide what needs hiding and accentuate all the good stuff 😉