Friday, September 7, 2012

Cleaning Myself Up

BlogHer wants to know how makeup, dressing up and strutting your stuff help you feel fabulous, confident and ready to rock the worldThe first time I read the prompt I laughed and clicked on through.  Then I became The Mother of The Bride.

The event belongs to my little girl.  My outfit is much less important than her guest list and her smiles and her wedding dress.  Watching her try them on, in the warehouse carnival get me out of here atmosphere of David's Bridal or in the more subdued environment where we found the one she loved, I began to get the feeling that, perhaps, I might be able to respond to that prompt after all.

There won't be any pictures of the clothes we selected; those will wait for 15 more days before they are revealed to the world.  What I can share is the wonder of putting them on.

Neither of us is a shopper.  Neither of us dresses up that often.  We're t-shirt and sweat pants girls, though our guys tell us that we clean up quite nicely, thank you very much.  We have stunning photographs of ourselves when we're all dolled up; they don't really look like our regular selves at all.

Maybe that's the ticket - the difference between the everyday and the extra-ordinary.  Some women treat each day as if it were a fashion show.  Others of us are just glad that we got there, primary parts covered, ready and willing to do our work.  For us, what we look like is less important than what we accomplish; that's the way we were raised.

G'ma has no sense of style.  Every time I relied upon her to create an outfit I could wear in public, I wondered why I had done so when I put it on.  She's a wonderful woman with many talents; sartorial splendor is not one of them.  My college wardrobe consisted of jeans, flannel shirts, and 2 formal dresses for the big frat parties to which TBG proudly escorted me.  I took that same sense of style with me to graduate school.

Big Steve, driving me to campus one morning, commented on my "fancy clothes."  I was assisting at a conference; I was wearing tailored navy polished cotton pants, a cream shell, and a gauzy over blouse.  My shoes had a little heel.  I felt elegant and educated and professional.  "I like looking nice every once in a while," was my response to his less than welcoming remark.  "Do you hear what you're saying?????" was his comeback.

I knew where he was going.  We were part of the hippie clique at social work school; we wore overalls and had long long hair.  Most of the other students were designer clad; we chose to concentrate on other things than our attire, probably because none of us had any extra cash to acquire more fabulous garments. My one dressy outfit, the one I wore that day, did just what BlogHer suggests: I felt fabulous and confident and ready to conquer the world. 

To Big Steve, though, I looked nice every day.  He thought my casual clothes were perfect.  The fact that the outfit lifted my spirits was clouded in dissonance for him. The clothes don't make the man; they are irrelevant.

Not true.  I tried to explain it to him all the way down Lake Shore Drive to Hyde Park.  He wasn't buying it at all.  The clothes didn't matter.  I was shallow to think they did.

It was the mid-1970's, denizens.  We were all very certain of everything back then.

I kept that conversation in the back of my mind for years.  Everytime I put on a dressy outfit I marveled at the fact that I looked taller, almost statuesque..... even in flats.  I wondered why I liked looking at myself in the mirror, all dolled up, hair lacquered, eyes painted..... who was that girl, anyway?  Whatever she called herself, she was stylin' and I was admirin'.

When my daughter donned the dress she loved, her face changed.  Her posture righted and her eyes sparkled.  Her body relaxed as she stood there, elegant and comfortable and gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Suddenly, all the wedding angst was gone.  In its place were love and smiles and relief. She was ready to rock the world.

I have something in my closet that would make me happy to wear to the wedding.  I felt no pressure when I shopped.  I browsed the boutiques I like here in town until I found something that made me smile.  I'll recount that adventure another time.  Here, I'll tell you that when I put it on I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders.

Dressed like that, how could I have anything but the most wonderful time?  I felt fabulous and confident.... and the outfit had a lot to do with it.  I don't know why, and I don't care.  Big Steve may be right, I may look nice every day.  But on September 22, I'm going to look great and feel even better.

I can hardly wait.
There's a sweepstakes over at BlogHer.... click on through and enter here.


  1. I used to dress up all the time, but since having three kids, I'm more comfortable in flip flops and jeans. I have been on this kick though about dresses. I keep buying them on eBay because I cannot find exactly what I want in the stores. I've lost 20 lbs and have just felt like wearing dresses. But I always wear flats with them. No way am I going to wear heels at the office. We are a casual environment and besides, I would probably fall on the marble floors.

    It is amazing how clothes make us feel.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Megan xxx

  2. I am so happy for you and your daughter. Finding the right dress is a wonderful feeling. I remember when I found my Wedding dress. I was shopping with my mother when I found the dress I knew I wanted. It wasn't a typical wedding dress, it was short but it was white silk and it was me. The trouble was, we hadn't announced our engagement yet. It was two weeks before Christmas and we were planning on telling everyone Christmas Day. So the day came, we gathered our family and made our announcement. After the hugs and tears, my mother exclaimed, "THE DRESS" that's why you liked that dress! We went back to the store and bought it on the 26th. And when I put it on and she said it was perfect, I too stood taller and smiled big

  3. You know that I know exactly where you are coming from. Dress shopping was extremely painful for me. I like my jeans and t shirts and sweatshirts in the winter. I feel foreign when I dress up, but sometimes you must do exactly that. I hurried and found a dress that I thought I liked. I finally found the one that made me smile. Little Cuter was the reason for that. I told her I didn't love it and she said then find something that you do love, silly. And that is just what I did. I can't wait, either.

  4. I loved this post AB! My daughter's wedding is coming up in November. I remember her trying on what she thought she wanted dozens of times. She was getting discouraged. She said, "everyone says you'll know the dress when you try it on, but that isn't happening to me!" And then the salesperson brought in the antithesis of what she thought she wanted and when she came out, yes, she stood taller and couldn't stop grinning. She just looked gorgeous and happy. And that's what we want for our daughters, I think.

  5. As noted earlier, doesn't matter what's up higher - cowgirl boots make you feel powerful. Rock 'em.


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