Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A jumble of thoughts

The good news is, I found a dress for the wedding. It's a swishy halter-top number, black with turquoise leaves swirling around on it. Hubby walked in while I was trying it on and it put a big smile on his face, so I think this was a good find :)

But walking out of Macy's with my new purchase under my arm, I couldn't help but admit how unsophisticated most of us are now compared to the women of our mothers' generation. When I get dressed on Saturday night, I'll blow dry my hair the usual way, perhaps with a bit more fluff. I'll put on my normal makeup, albeit with an extra coat of mascara and a slightly darker lip gloss. That's it. There will be no fancy up-do, no gloves or hat, no painstaking application of false lashes to my fluttery lids. Which makes me wonder if maybe there should be? I wonder if going out - to dinner, to weddings, to the movies - wasn't more exciting when our womanly preparations consisted of more than throwing a dress on rather than jeans?

On the back cover of About Alice, author Calvin Trillin's tribute to his wife, there is an amazing picture of the two of them taken in younger days. She looks like a blonde Jackie-O with her beautifully coordinated skirt and jacket, a hat perched carefully atop her shiny mane. It's clear she didn't just pull these items down off a hanger five minutes before and throw them on. And Calvin himself looks quite dashing, decked out in a suit in the days when this was what one wore when joining friends for drinks and dinner. I think I miss those days.

A friend of mine recently threw a birthday party for her husband, and the invitation instructed us to wear our "fancy party clothes." I was surprised by how much we all liked it, standing in ever-shifting groups in our nice duds, talking about all manner of books, ideas, hopes, dreams, and funny things that happened to us on the way to the party. It was like dressing up, dimming the lights, and pouring some wine made us rise to the occasion; those were some of the most interesting discussions I've had in years.

Which got me thinking...if I made my book events next spring a chance to "wear your fancy party clothes," would anybody show up?

17 comments:

Beck said...

It's like we're all a generation of kids. I think of how my grandma looked going to church - makeup, dress, hat, heels - and then think of the women in my church in their sandals and jeans....

kristen said...

Oh, I love to dress up...but I also love my jeans. And in the end, I think I'm more at home in my casual clothes, more me. I've often thought the best combination is jeans, a white tee and a string of pearls. It's a look that always lifts my spirits.

Love the blog, by the way...

Liz said...

I used that last party as an excuse to buy a whole new outfit, so, yes, if you threw a fancy party, I'd definitely come. ;)

My guy is taking me out tomorrow for a fancy French restaurant dinner before he leaves the next morning, and I'm definitely dressing up for that!

Beth said...

I would love that! I love to dress up. I would do it much more if I wasn't so out of place. Maybe we should start a new trend!

Jess Riley said...

I'd show up to your fancy dress book events! :) I haven't dressed up in ages. But this reminded me of my grocery shopping expedition yesterday: I was in scruffy shorts and a t-shirt, and I saw a beautiful woman (probably in her eighties) wearing hose, white high-heeled sandals, a blue floral shift dress, pearls, and a GIANT blue floppy hat, like the kind bridesmaids wore in the early eighties. It was so neat to see.

Halter-top dresses with swishy skirts are THE BEST. Very flattering.

L Sass said...

I miss this stuff, too! In fact, AS is a groomsman in his best friend from college's wedding in July and I am using it as an excuse to really get done up--new hair cut, manicure, etc... It's nice to really pull it together once in a while!

I'm not sad that we don't do what my grandmother did, though. She had her hair fashioned into an updo at the salon once a week and then wrapped it in toilet paper each night to help it keep its shape!

heidikins said...

Fancy Party Clothes?!? Where! I want to play! I'm digging my cute little gloves out of the closet right now, just in case.

xox

Stacy said...

I love to dress up and look all ladylike, but I rarely ever do. Part of this is because I'm now much heavier than I am comfortable being, so I never want to buy nice clothes when I am this size because I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll lose weight." And then I don't.

Random but slightly related thought: You know what I love about old movies? The fact that they list who designed the star's gowns. I'm not a person that cares much about labels, but I like the idea of placing that much importance on the elegance of the leading lady.

Larramie said...

The majority here -- myself included -- would enjoy dressing up, so why does "Casual Friday" extend into evening affairs?

Ah, perhaps, it can be traced back to the introduction of the pants suit.

Fun and thoughtful post, Trish, so glad I finally stopped by.

Sarakastic said...

I know it boggles my mind that my mom used to wear white gloves. I'd definitely dress up for a book event, as long as tiaras were deemed appropriate

Angela said...

Ooh, every girl loves the chance to dress up. I like it too, but I prefer these occasions to be few and far between because I really love slumming it in jeans and a t-shirt too.

Jenny Rough said...

For you and your book I'd put on my fancy party clothes...but I'm glad those days are over. I love my yoga pants, t-shirt, and flip flops attire!

ORION said...

I love to dress up but it loses something in translation when I have to struggle up the companionway and trudge down the dock to get anywhere!

LEstes65 said...

I would so totally get a tiara. One worthy of Sarakastic. And one worthy of your book event.

I watch old movies where people dress to do ANYthing. I mean, look at how Donna Reed used to dress just to clean the house while everyone was out. And I stand here in an oversized t-shirt and shorts with a rather messy kitchen in my sights.

Donna reed would not be happy.

Kim Stagliano said...

Yes! I love to dress up too! You're right, I've been thinking my Sevens are dress clothes and my Levi's are everyday. On with the skirts and dresses!!!

ellesappelle said...

Dressing up is okay. I think most women want to do it every now and then. BUT I don't personally like doing it all the time. I love that it's okay to wear jeans to church now, I love that I'm allowed to feel comfortable. A friend invited me to her 21st a few weeks ago and specified that we had to wear cocktail dresses. I don't own a single dress, be it cocktail or otherwise. So I started panicking, rushing round malls looking for dresses, but as it happens, the fashions in cocktail dresses at the moment make me look haggish. It was utterly depressing. And I kind of resented that in order to celebrate my friend's birthday and let her know how cool I think she is, I had to fit into a sort of identity that I'm just not.

As it turned out, I bought a nice skirt and some nice shoes, got my hair cut and straightened, and I felt great. I spent a lot of money, though, more than I can afford at the moment and so although it worked out okay in the end, I am very happy that no one else is having formal 21sts this year.

So I don't think it's a bad idea at all to have some occasions where you have to dress up, it does kind of alienate some people.

Anonymous said...

there's a new underground, the vintage lifestyle - young people who reject the dressing down and dumbing down and are bringing back all the great sophistication of the old - i say go for it, be part of it, become a superhero working to help make it happen!