I went to my first California “black tie” last weekend. I wasn’t really sure how to dress, since everything is sooooo casual here, but the invitation did read “Black tie or evening attire”… The MOTNSO (“More-Often-Than-Not-Significant-Other”) has a really nice black suit, so he was all set. However, those few words launched me into complete fashion crisis mode.
I called my daughter-in-law, who is my go-to person in all things California Style since she and my son have lived here for about eight years. She is brilliant; she suggested I google the photos from last year’s event to see what people were wearing. Great idea! So that’s what I did.
Now, I had the double dilemma: what did I have that would A) be appropriate and B) fit. “B” being more important than “A” at this point.
I am a stress eater. I have been under such duress the last couple of months with the website launch I’ve moved up from my “skinny size” to my “pleasantly plump” clothing line. I’m not quite to the “Deargodinheraven, someone sew her mouth shut” stage. I have had more pasta and pizza (as well as a wide variety of other “comfort” foods) that I could be a contributor to the local Foodbank with my leftovers. But I did feel better…until I would get on the scale the next day.
I haven’t really dressed up in fancy duds since before the divorce, except for a couple of weddings I attended. So, I dove into the scary part of my closet (the end that you can’t see or reach) and pulled out some things that were hanging there. Several pantsuits, from my formal business days, a couple of flowered skirts (uh, I don’t think so…the flowers that looked like buds when I bought them would look like fully bloomed hydrangeas on my butt now!) and …. nothing. Then I remembered that I had a few “glitterati-type” articles of clothing stored in the cedar closet in the guest room.
Anyway, I opened the cedar closet and realized that I apparently don’t like to get rid of formal clothes. I could open a vintage shop just with what was hanging there. Then I saw it: the basic black dress with a few beads around the neckline, slightly tentish-looking, but it was basic black and I could wear lots of sparkly jewelry and I thought that would work. This is it in the photo above, post party. Well, short of going shopping for something that I would probably not wear for another year and who knows what size I’d be then, this would have to do.
I tried it on over my sweatsuit. Why, you ask? Because I figured if it fit over that, it would fit over me. I wriggled and squirmed and the lining of the dress got hung up around my hood on my sweatshirt. I was stuck. Really. The dress wouldn’t go up…and it wouldn’t go down and I couldn’t reach it to free it. Trapped. It reminded me of the time when I was enormous and was going to a fat farm and went to buy an exercise bra. You know, the kind that you just pull over your head and keeps everything from jiggling and juggling while you’re jumping? I was in the dressing room at TJ Maxx and got stuck in a bra. I was close to having a panic attack. I stood there with my phone in my hand, trying to think of who I could call to come and rescue me from the overly aggressive under-garment. In the time that it took me to come up with who I could trust to come, I cooled down and stopped perspiring and was finally able to set myself free.
Now, I don’t really know my neighbors here all that well. They are all very nice people, but we just say “Hi” over the trash cans and see each other at community functions. There wasn’t even one I could think of that I could approach to help get me undressed. I did what I always do in these situations. I started to laugh. Which caused me to have to go to the bathroom. So there I was in the powder room, with evening attire over my Costco sweatsuit. I was glad it wasn’t a day that the cleaning people could show up at any time.
I finally figured out that I could stretch the neckline enough to get the jacket out through the head hole and then get the rest of the dress off and that is what I did. It was none the worse for the wear; I wish I could say that about myself.
Next: shoes. Another thing I do…I save shoes. I have every conceivable style and height of heel. What do I wear 90% of the time? flip flops and my new “Skechers” which are supposed to make me thin in my sleep. The dress shoes are kept way up on the top of my closet, the uppermost shelf since I rarely wear them. I got out the little one-step stool I keep in my closet for just such an occasion as this, but I couldn’t reach them on that. I went and found the taller step ladder and then got distracted and went off to do something else for a couple of minutes. I came back, climbed up and started sorting through the boxes to find what was the least out-of-style. I had two pairs and went to step down and totally forgot that I was on the higher stool, missed the bottom step and went crashing to the ground in a pile of shoes, my legs entwined in the step ladder, smashing into my bedroom door with my head and the door in turn smashing into the mirrored hanging jewelry closet on the wall behind the door. The sound was horrendous. I thought that SONGS (the nuclear power plant in San Onofre) would set off their sirens thinking that someone had launched a bomb nearby. The MOTNSO was upstairs on the phone and I heard him say “Gotta go…something just fell.” I yelled “It wasn’t something…it was me!!“ Other than my sides hurting from laughing, it was not as bad as the faceplant in the shopping center. My biggest fear was that I’d damaged the mirror. The very last thing I need is seven years of bad luck. You know how superstitious I am. It was fine. And so was I.
The third part of the dress-up problem was stockings. I have horrible legs. Three babies in four years, varicose veins and yo-yo weight activity has wreaked havoc on my gams. They could easily be mistaken for a road map around a big city, there are so many blue lines running up and down them. Black Beauty’s GPS doesn’t have as many lines as my legs do. I know it is not chic to wear stockings, but the dress came just about to my knees, hitting in just the right spot to expose the beltway around Washington, DC that is my left calf. Stockings were a must.
Try finding any kind of pantyhose locally. This is a beach town. You could get any number and style of sandals, flip flops, cover-ups, Hawaiian shirts…but try finding stockings. I went to a total of four places before finding a few pairs in the back of CVS near the clearance shelves. Luckily, there was a “sheer” pair in off-black in my size (don’t ask, but there’s a play on Broadway that has that letter in its title) and I bought them.
By the time I was ready to get dressed I was battered and (slightly) bruised and not at all in the mood for a black tie event. In the end, it was fun, I was dressed appropriately, I didn’t trip or stumble in the heels (haven’t had heels on in over a year) so I guess the evening was as success…in more ways than one. I decided that enough (literally) was enough and I was going to really get back into exercising and really watch what I ate. I thought maybe Weight Watchers might be a good way for me to go, since I know you can save up points and have your occasional cocktail. I went online to find a local one and there’s one just up the road. Once again, I had a burst of uncontrollable laughter. I am cutting and pasting the exact directions this particular WW meeting place has on their website.
TAKE I-5, SOUTH, TO CROWN VALLEY EXIT. TURN RIGHT, THEN RIGHT AGAIN, ONTO GREENFIELD. NEAR UPPER CRUST PIZZA.
I mean, really?