I have to go to a black tie party on Saturday, and I think I’m going to throw up.
The throwing up is not because I’m cleansing (although believe me, I’ve considered it) but because when people say “swanky gala” I hear “another place for me to publicly humiliate myself”. You may or may not know this, but Audrey Hepburn I am not: not small, or cute, or particularly charming, and definitely cannot pull off an LBD (Little Black Dress), great hair and flawless makeup* on short notice. So when I discover I have to go to a gala – one that will be well-attended by Seattle socialites, will have professional photographers (my worst nightmare – sorry photog friends) and in which I will have to not only be on my best behavior but also have to dress appropriately for my age group** in front of my colleagues and boss – my first reaction is not “Yippee!” but rather, “Oh, shit.”
*A la Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
**Dress code in my age group is something short, slinky (but not slutty), revealing (but not overexposed), satiny and just fashion-forward enough to be noticeable without being ostentatious. I, unfortunately, cannot pull off any of these things.
See, I have about 10 LBDs in my closet. Every one I’ve purchased with the intention of “wearing again” – naturally it was “versatile” or “a classic” when I bought it, and would totally be “perfect for the next insert fancy event here“.
(Side note: Every woman reading this has fooled herself at some point with this same litany of justification for purchasing a new dress. And no woman has ever, EVER learned from this mistake. We don’t want to, apparently.)
So back to the 10 dresses in my closet I can’t wear, because:
- I can’t fit into it
- it looks like a bridesmaid dress (it is)
- I can’t fit into it
- that style kinda looks like a prom dress (it is)
- I wore it to the last event (and the one before that – okay, this dress actually has been versatile)
- I can’t fit into it
- it reminds me of my ex-boyfriend (and I can’t fit into it)
- it’s not appropriate for this event because it’s too short
- it’s not appropriate for this event because it’s too long (also, this event isn’t the Oscars, so I’m not comfortable with long)
- I can’t fit into it.
Time to shop. And this basically gives me hives, because I already know what “shopping” for this stupid event looks like: a crazed dash through every store in Seattle carrying anything over a size 6 with one specific dress in mind (mid-thigh length tulip skirt with pockets, sequined, Dolman long sleeves, scoop back***), a fit of frustrated crying in a dressing room when at least one if not several of the dresses get stuck as they come on and/or off, a debilitating disappointment when “the” dress I thought looked perfect on the rack looks hideous on my body and a slow, depressed shuffle home when (hopefully) I find a dress that – after the world’s wildest goosechase for the elusive perfect LBD and more money than I care to spend – is just going to have to be good enough.
***This dress doesn’t exist. But in my mind, it’s perfect for my figure.
And with this incredible success setting the tone for the perfect evening (can you read the sarcasm here?) I realize next that something will have to be done with my hair on the day of the event, which fortunately is easy enough to manage – when someone else does it. So I book myself an appointment for a blowout and style at Swink Style Bar, which I’m totally looking forward to but because I’m not a good little socialite haven’t yet experienced, so naturally I’m putting my whole look (and my confidence) on the line on the day of the event to try something I’ve never done before, out of sheer necessity. This is perfectly logical, right? Right.
So here I am 5 days before the event, madly browsing the websites of every store in downtown Seattle as a frantic preemptive strike on the impending Great Dress Race I’ll be attempting this week, trying to get inspiration in some attempt to narrow down my options and – in theory – reduce my dress stress. So far it’s not really working. The only thing I’ve got going for me at this point is that my hair appointment is booked for Saturday – which doesn’t really do a lot to reduce my tress stress, as I’m unsure about the outcome. Probably it will be amazing, but still – it’s a risk.
One of these days I’ll be thin enough to just throw on whatever’s in my closet and go. One of these days I’ll actually wear that LBD from last season again because it truly is a classic. One of these days I’ll learn how to do amazing things to my own hair, and will have a great pair of “go to” shoes and earrings just in case for fabulous events like these. One of these days I’ll be one of the cute socialites I so aspire to be before my rapidly disappearing youth takes the opportunity from me, and I’ll whip my hair into a quick bun after a short night and turn to a handsome man and say, “How do I look?”
In the meantime, I’m just me, and there’s really not time to do anything about that, and I shouldn’t really want to. I’m running around like a maniac, spending too much money, not feeling good enough about how I’m going to look and worrying about every last detail right up until the second where I waltz into that black tie event with all the confidence of a woman who knows herself well enough to know that, at the end of the day, she looks good exactly as she is, in what she’s wearing and in what she brings in herself.
So despite all the dress and tress stress, I know Saturday will come around and whatever I show up in will be good enough – I will be good enough – and that confidence is one piece in my closet that will truly last forever.
And if someone would kindly remind me of that when I get invited to the next event, I’d really appreciate it. Although I’m sure I’ll end up with a new LBD anyway – wouldn’t you?