Higgins models a retro ’50s dress with a fitting top and a flowing A-line skirt.
Higgins models a retro '50s dress with a fitting top and a flowing A-line skirt. ( Jeremy Papasso )

(This story was changed March 28, 2013, to update the store's website address.)

God (or my mother's uterus) never gifted me a sister.

I tried to whittle little brother Nathan into the shape of a female, duct-taping him to the kitchen chair and attacking him with a curling iron and Aqua Net. But eventually, puberty stole his smooth cheeks and blessed him with muscles with which to punch me. I had to find a new life-sized doll to play with.

This one didn't squirm.

Her name was Devon, and I found her in middle school. Devon was the King Midas of fashion. She could transform sweatpants into haute couture with the wave of her Coach bag. Ever since she was a pre-teen -- while the rest of us were wearing mismatched breasts, slightly-too-hairy-but-too-young-to-shave legs and blue eyeliner three awkward centimeters above our lash lines -- Devon was halting traffic and derailing trains with her glamour.

The Little Black Sexy dress.
The Little Black Sexy dress. ( Jeremy Papasso )

Barbie's hair looks like scraggly meth-fuzz next to Devon's locks: thick, always lustrous and never flat. Her hair actually grows out of her head in perfect curls, just like her nails sprout from her fingers in shiny red, never chipped. She was born with a strand of shiny pearls around her neck. Her legs wax themselves. Sephora designs its make-up collections around Devon's palette, and bottles her natural scent to sell as perfume.

Devon is legendary. She's Paul Bunyanette.

Especially with regards to her Party Dresses. (Yes, these warrant their own proper nounage.)


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Devon has a Party Dress for every occasion, even the fake holidays like President's Day and National Cement Between The Bricks Awareness Day. She shows up to gatherings with extra accessories to disperse to the paltry style-peasants (like yours truly) who didn't have the fashion foresight to design a full seasonal line with three costume changes in honor of the occasion. In fact, my favorite green sunnies were a Devon-distributed party favor on St.

A soft cotton dress with an off-white lace accent print and a black corset top and zipper.
A soft cotton dress with an off-white lace accent print and a black corset top and zipper. ( Jeremy Papasso )
Patty's Day (as well as the only reason I didn't get pinched, because God knows green isn't my power color).

Seeing that Devon has no fewer than three special Party Dresses designated for the day after the day after her second cousin's birthday, try to imagine, if your mind can even stretch this far without pulling a neurotransmitter, the kind of glory that adorns my friend's body on New Year's Eve.

Try. Now weep.

Norman Hartnell, eat your hart (sp.) out.

(He was the Queen's dressmaker of the '40s-50s. You would know that if you were Blue Blood or Devon.)

It's a (non-blood) family tradition that we dance in the New Year's together, and of course, Devon had her New Year's Party Dress six months ago. Equally of course, it wasn't until I could count the final hours of 2010 on two feet that I realized I had nothing to wear to the ball, Cinderella.

With no time for shenanigans, I hit up a store that looks strikingly similar to my sister's closet, quite possibly the world's best dress store: Violette Boutique, 1631 Pearl St. in Boulder, violetteboutiqueboulder.com.

A month ago, Violette expanded to open another store across the street, Lilli. The latter offers the "casual side of chic," with jeans, casual shirts, a wider range of sizes and a special section in the back of little girl's tutus. Each dressing room has its own theme (cowgirl, Eastwick, pink retro).

A timeless and forgiving dress.
A timeless and forgiving dress. ( Jeremy Papasso )

Part of the reason to open Lilli, according to the owners (a mother, daughter and grandmother team): to clear out more room to make Violette fluffier, floofier and dressier.

Yes.

Lillie St. Germain, the grandmother, helped me sift through the tulle to find five fave last-minute New Year's little black dresses from which to choose, or line up for a five-point costume change.

1. Little black sexy. This dress, with thick straps crossing on the upper back, is form-fitting, hott (with two t's) and fun, $48.

2. Timeless and forgiving. This one is more demure, with pleats and a lace bottom that flatters any body shape, $115. Cinch with a sparkly belt.

3. Chanel who? This Chanel knockoff is black with white lace pocket detailing and scattered black sequins, $85. It's fashionable, hip and a little modest, too.

4. A comfortable corset. This dress is made out of soft cotton, with an off-white lace accent print, but it's super sexy with a black corset top and zipper, $84.

5. Don't buy this because I'm wearing it. This dress looks retro '50s with a fitting top and flowing A-line skirt, perfect for twirling, $88. Now add a little toughness with a thick gold zipper on the back, permanently unzipped to the waist, and a matching front zipper that you can zip as high as you want (or increasingly lower, corresponding to the amount of champagne you consume).

The instant I saw this dress, I knew it was me: a little old fashioned, a little over the line. Why did it have to be one of the most expensive dresses in a shop known for its low price points? In a tizzy, I text-attacked Devon.

Me: I found the perfect party dress, but it's too expensive. I need it.

Me: Please help me cope with this hardship.

Me: I am mourning it not being on my body at all times.

Me: Dear Devon, I want it. Love Sis.

Finally, the response floated in, as if on a Magic Eight Ball.

Devon: Dear Aims, the heart wants what the heart wants. Love Sissy.

Which is exactly why everyone needs a good sister: Unconditional condonation.