There is a an illusion that one can maintain by tucking away unpleasant thoughts in a small, dark chamber of one’s mind; for example, it is that easy to pretend that one is avoiding the effects of gravity and time. This was brought home to me by a last-minute party invitation. A friend called together a gathering of friends to celebrate the holidays. With a three-day lead, I did not have time to go shopping for something new and exciting to wear for the festive and semi-formal event. Over the years, I have accumulated enough gowns, cocktail dresses and formal wear to fill a closet. The needle on the scale has remained fixed on the same number plus or minus two for almost forty years. Why fret?
I had it covered.
This was when reality intruded.
Three hours before the party, I thought I would try on the top contenders. Well, what do you know? The first gown emphasized areas I would prefer to ignore. The next dress was too young and flirty. The next try demanded I go forth bravely and without foundation. No longer an option, in my mind. Relax, breathe, go for an old stand-by. Okay, but boring. Black, catalogue-common. I recruited my son’s opinion at this point. Perhaps I was being unduly harsh.
The two red dresses I modeled worked, but not in a WOW-what-a-nice-dress kind of way. Around then I started repeating “Clothes do not the woman make” as my mantra.
A long black velvet gown, too much. A short, red, Grecian-style dress worked. I breathed a sigh of relief. I turned to admire the back of the dress. To my horror, two large stains. The dress still had its tags. There was a dress that I came remarkably close to wearing, but I saw the effect of three spinal surgeries showing in the open cut-out in the back and couldn’t bring myself to subject others to that sight.
I decided pants. I have black and grey pants. I was disheartened. The blouses and halters I considered cut into the lines of my figure at the wrong places.
Skirts? Dowdy or functional, not fun.
With her permission, I raided my daughter’s closet. Five dresses. Two sufficed, but really were too young. I spent half an hour hanging, pinning and restoring all the garments I had donned so I could put them away. With no decision made, I went to do some online shopping. Avoidance.
Just a couple of hours later, it was time to get ready. I bathed, washed and blow-dried my hair then applied my makeup. For jewelry, I picked out special earrings and a pearl necklace. Still in my robe, I walked into my closet and chose my shoes. Black Baby Janes from Clark. If I couldn’t work top-down, I would work bottom-up. Then nylons from DKNY. Black slacks from Express. A silk camisole from Hanro. A lovely silk blouse from Ralph Lauren and... TADA!!
With the help of all my friends -Clarks, Donna Karan, Express, Hanro and Ralph - I assembled an outfit to wear for the party -- not withstanding the unfamiliar terrain of my aging physique.