Failing at shopping

H25061_994_D01 It’s been a long time since I shopped for a dress. I wear jeans for casual, an assortment of black pants for business. I’ve bought t-shirts and blazers over the past year or so, but that’s about it.
But I really wanted a new dress, something looking at least remotely like it was designed after 1995 to wear to my son’s baccalaureate.

(1995 was probably the last time I bought a dress; I think I had a high school reunion just after my daughter was born.)

So I went dress shopping. It was a rude awakening.

OK, I will place part of the blame on this year’s styles. These baby doll jersey knits: baby doll didn’t work for me when I was 15; it definitely doesn’t work for me over 50. The just-below-the-butt-length styles looked mom-trying-to-dress-like-a-teenager freaky, and I have no idea how you walk in them without flashing your underwear. The just-above-the-knee dresses the nice saleswoman at Nordstrom kept handing me drew the eye right to the knees and—oh my gawd what happened to my knees? Last time I looked, OK, they weren’t great, a little knobby, but where did all that saggy stuff come from? When was the last time I looked at my knees in a mirror anyway? I dumped the just-above-the-knee pile of dresses back in the saleswoman’s arms.

Then there were ankle-length summer dresses, a style I’ve always loved to wear at beach resorts that seems to be style for normal streetwear this season. No need to worry about sitting properly to avoid flashing your crotch or holding your skirt down in a breeze, the cotton soft against your ankles. They looked, however, like nightwear. And, frankly, I’ve got plenty long cotton dresses—every time we go on vacation to someplace warm I can’t resist them. I wanted something a little more polished for this occasion.

I wasn’t getting anywhere.

On a business trip several weeks before the bacc, I passed a Coldwater Creek store. Actually, I passed it multiple times; it was right next to my hotel. And I looked in the window at the full skirts and long loose tops and thought, oh, so not my style, I’m a much more streamlined kind of person.

Finally, bored one evening after dinner, I went in. I stifled my objections to big floral prints and grabbed a couple of skirts and matching tops. I tried one on. It fit. It fit perfectly, a wide band just around my waist, cinching nicely above my stomach, where it wouldn’t risk generating a muffin top. This actually freaked me out, because I don’t own anything that sits on my waist—I’ve never really had a waist, I’ve always been pretty straight up and down. But it looks like as gravity dragged things down these past few years, it left me with a waist.

I might have bought the skirt and tried to get used to the waist thing, but the big lavender flowers just screamed old lady at me. I like the color lavender, I like it on my daughter, I like it in pens, notebooks—but on me, it pushes some button in my brain that says “old”. I just couldn’t see myself wearing that skirt. And, of course, all the other colors were sold out in my size.

In the end, I failed. I didn’t buy a new dress for bacc. I wore one of those long cotton dresses from my resort wear collection, and felt a little too casual. But it’s over, and I’ve got four years to adjust to this body before my next child’s bacc.

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