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.