Party Dress Humiliation

Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the Super Bow...

Most women who read this title immediately understood what this post would be about.  Men are probably thinking this might be an interesting read about a wardrobe malfunction equal to that Janet Jackson/Super Bowl incident several years ago.  Sorry to disappoint gentlemen (but trust me, a wardrobe malfunction would have been equally as disappointing) but this post is about the humiliating search for a holiday/party dress.

When I was 23 I remember my sister-in-law calling me to tell me she had seen the most amazing party dress that only 1 person in the world could wear and that person was me.  It was on sale and she insisted that I go right that moment and purchase it.  I did indeed go straight to the mall, found the dress and tried it on.  It was Kelly Green and made of stretchy ruched satin and very, very short.  It did indeed look good on me.  I was 23, everything was where it was supposed to be (and firm) and I weighed 101 pounds.  As my mother used to say, “A flour sack would look good on you.”  That was me – way back then.

I really, really miss those days.  Every year the company that employs me hosts a holiday party for the employees.  Cocktail party attire is the dress code.  For many who attend, it is the only chance all year to dress up.  For equally as many, it is a lesson in humiliation.  We women must find a new dress to wear to this event and the hunt itself is devastating to our self-esteem. 

So off I went to the department store and ventured into the holiday dress section.  Oh the horror!  Now that I am no longer 23, no longer have all the parts in their ideal location, (nothing feels firm) and I sure as hell am not 101 pounds, none of these dresses are made for me.  But neither am I ready to shop in the “Grandma” section.  So I swim through the ocean of holiday dresses grabbing a few to take to the dressing room.  There will be no Kelly Green nor Christmas Red at this stage in my life.  Every choice is black because black is a color that hides middle age issues. 

Each dress I try on is more horrendous than the last.  They look beautiful hanging in the store and on those perfectly proportioned mannequins, but on me they reveal all my worst features.  “When did that roll of fat appear?  Why is my rear-end so lumpy?  Oh Lord, it’s time to clear all the clothes off the treadmill again!”  These are just some of the thoughts rolling through my mind.  Finally I choose a dress that a nun could wear and wander off dejectedly.  Then I remember something.  Spanx!


For those of you who do not know what Spanx is, think of the girdles women wore in the 50’s and 60’s only Spanx come in nude and black and with a slightly naughty name.  So I go to the Intimates section.  Hmm, well Spanx may be “intimate” but it sure as hell isn’t sexy.  These garments range from giant panty-styles to things that look like mini prison jumpsuits.  The sales lady helps me pick out a size and style.  I ask, “Do you have to use a can of Crisco to get into this?”  She laughs, luckily she is the age – and possibly size – that would also know what a can of Crisco is.  “It stretches,” she says, “go try it on and then put your dress on over it.  You’ll see.”  So off I go to the dressing room. 

It takes me 10 minutes to squirm into this garment which goes from my mid-thigh all the way up to my ribs.  When it was finally on, I think I heard my kidneys scream.  It was either the kidneys or my liver and gallbladder – I’m not sure.  I was wondering how the heck I would get out of this to use the bathroom when I discovered it has an “escape hatch”.  I’ll leave the description at that.  Then I tried the dress on.  HOLY COW!  I looked amazing.  There were no rolls of fat and my rear-end looked like it did when I was 23!  (Ok, would you believe it looked like a 33-year-old ass at least?)  I looked . . . what was the word . . .  GOOD!

25 minutes later, after I’d wriggled out of that contraption, I was back in the dressing room again with different dress.  One that a nun would not wear!  It showed a little bosom and clung tightly to my body.  I put the Spanx on again – another 10 minute ordeal – and then the new dress.  By now I’m sweating like I’ve just completed Biggest Loser Cardio Workout and having a little trouble breathing but again I look good.  Almost . . . dare I say it . . . hot?  Well, definitely warm. 

If I’m not mistaken the Spanx cost almost as much as the dress but it was so worth it for the self-confidence it inspired.  I won’t lie and say I feel like my 23-year old self again, but I sure don’t feel like I’m just a short step from the Grandma dress section anymore.  If this were a different type of blog, this would be the point at which I would decide that I’m comfortable with my middle age lumps and bumps and to hell with the Spanx and on with the sexy dress.  As I’ve said before, this ain’t that blog.  Thanks to some lycra and spandex, and maybe a miracle bra, I can go confidently to this year’s holiday party.  Of course I won’t be able to eat or drink anything but I will look fantastic in the pictures!  I still think I’m going to have a can of Crisco on hand just incase.

23 thoughts on “Party Dress Humiliation

  1. littlesundog says:

    OMG that is hilarious! My problem is more that I finally quit coloring my hair (I’ve been highly allergic to it for years) and now I must try to pair clothing with the silvery gray halfway down and the sun lightened gold at the ends of my long locks. Black doesn’t look deadly like it used to. I quit wearing a bra years ago due to allergies to elastic (I never liked the feeling of being strapped in a harness anyway) so the search for something “chest pleasing” is a real challenge. Your description of the plight of clothes shopping had me in stitches before my first cup of coffee was ready. Thanks for making my day!!

    • We have to laugh at moments like these. I wish I’d been smart enough to laugh at a few more of them when I was younger! Allergic to elastic? What in heaven’s name did you wear the day after Thanksgiving then? Thanks for stopping by!

  2. katecrimmins says:

    I tried Spanx a few years ago to “smooth out the lumps” and rearrange the flesh. It does take a good 10 minutes to get it on and then I couldn’t bend or breathe. I opted not to buy it and to exercise. Well, we all know how that went. Now I am lumpier (not heavier, but flesh doesn’t stay where it should). Maybe next time I have to dress formal, I may try again, especially since I know about the trap door.

  3. I have a shaper that is a form of torture. However, when I wear it with my nice dress I look fabulous. My lumps, that have decreased thanks to diet and exercise, are smoothed out. Wonder if I could try a wrap dress once more?

  4. A post I can relate to! Your posts are funny and entertaining … I needed a laugh this afternoon. Thanks for the laughter!

  5. If you think buying a dress is a horrendous experience may I ask you how long it’s been since you went shopping for a new bathing suit?

    I’m still in shock.


  6. Oh my gosh, this post literally made me LOL! SO true! Holiday dress shopping is simultaneously the best AND worst experience at this time of year – especially when the search begins after the Thanksgiving feast and one is already feeling as large as the bird one just devoured.
    (hangs head in shame.)
    I was actually reminded of that scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary, where Bridget opts to wear the unattractive but helpfully tummy-flattening “grandma” panties!

  7. Impower You says:

    LOL! That is hilarious. I have not tried Spanx, but always wondered how comfortable they would be.
    I bet someone, somewhere has had to use Crisco to put on a dress or to get out of one. 😀

  8. Rebecca Trotter says:

    Funny. I am not one to worry about my weight much, but I do draw the line at letting my belly stick out past my boobs. A couple of years ago I was entering the danger zone, so I started hitting the gym hard and heavy. After about 6 weeks of heavy cardio 5x a week, I had lost nary a pound or an inch. (It’s my diet, I’m sure. Too much sugar!) Finally I just said screw it, went out and bought a push-up bra and solved the whole problem! Undergarments save the day!

    • Sometimes I’m a work out devil and other times the treadmill is a clothes hanger. I used to obsess about a perfect number, now my goal is to keep the cholesterol in check and not scare small children with my size. But you just know a man invented these Spanx and miracle bras!

  9. Barb says:

    Thank you. thank you. I keep passing by these undergarments in the lingerie department. (I go there a lot to be frustrated) and wondered how they worked. Now…if they would just make a pair of sexy, comfortable shoes. All orthotically, non-toe pinching shoes are uglier than the box they come in…but oh how my feet love them. Fun post. Thanks

  10. randomsensibility says:

    “Spanx”, also known as “fat-suckers” truly are miracle workers, especially for a sixteen year old girl (such as moi) with the proportions of a dallas quarterback! If you ever can’t find a good black dress, go with forest or fern green instead of kelly. And make sure it’s crinkly!

  11. […] if you are a regular visitor to my blog, you may remember the post Party Dress Humiliation about me trying to find the perfect outfit for an upcoming holiday party and, more […]

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