One of the worst things about losing a lot of weight is that nothing fits anymore.
Ha ha ha!
Good one, eh? But, seriously. One of the very BEST things about losing a lot of weight is that you have to get all new clothes.
(If you haven’t been hanging around my blog for a while, you may not have heard me going on and on, ad nauseam, about how I lost almost 60 pounds this year. Feel free to check out posts in the category Biggest Loser: Family Edition)
I’ve got a big, fancy charity ball to go to in a few weeks so I need a really special dress. We go to this shindig every year. The ball itself is fun, but getting ready for it has historically been…not so much. Shopping for clothes when you’re plus size is a gut-wrenching nightmare, as any fatty can tell you. The best you can hope for is something that won’t make you fall to the floor, right there in the store, kicking and screaming in a mad, sad tantrum of rage. Most of that rage is inwardly directed, with some left over for the clothing vendors who appear to be sadistic bastards. Want something elegant and just a touch sexy for a special occasion? Let me direct you to the First Circle of Hell Boutique. I have their Frequent Shoppers Card.
Now that I’m normal size, I thought it would be a snap to find a great dress. Not so. I still have some “fit issues”. Worse than that, it appears they only make dressy dresses in 2 categories now: 16-year-old-dance-hall-floozy-in-training/prom dresses, or the Methuselah Collection. The 60-year age gap between these two target markets is a vast and arid wardrobe wasteland. Apparently women in their 50s don’t need fancy dresses.
Having struck out at the store, last night I delved into the hinterlands of my own closet. I knew I had some wardrobe favorites packed away from the years before I started shopping at Omar the Tent Makers.
I didn’t come up with a ball gown, but I found a veritable treasure trove of memories there, safety nestled in dry cleaner bags. There was my wedding dress, tucked between the pink bridesmaid’s dress from my sister Terry’s wedding and the fragile, old, ivory christening gown that each of my girls wore.
There were several other dresses back there that would have no obvious significance to anyone besides me, and which instantly transported me back in time.
– From 33 years ago: an ivory, spaghetti-strap, jersey halter dress with tiny, violet butterflies that I wore to a friend’s wedding the summer before my senior year in college. They were the first of our group to get married. I lived near campus for an internship that year, rode my bike everywhere and spent my spare time at the gym. I could crack walnuts with my butt-cheeks (not part of my job description, FYI). At that age, youth and zest for life were the only accessories needed.
– From 25 years ago: a black, velvet cocktail dress with little puff sleeves, fitted bodice and ribbon belt. I wore it the New Year’s Eve hubby Bill and I spent at an elegant hotel in downtown Chicago. We ate lobster and drank champagne and danced the night away. The next day we braved the Windy City’s frigid, blustery worst to walk the deserted streets and stopped in at the Billy Goat Tavern. They were closed, but the iconic owner let us in to warm up and have a Pepsi (no Coke there, as everyone knows) with his family, who were gathered for a party.
– From 20 years ago: a little black dress with jet beads on its cap sleeves. I bought it because it fit like a dream, and made me feel sexy and sophisticated. All I needed was a reason to wear it. That ended up being a special, get-away weekend out of town for Bill and me. The occasion? We had just found out we would be welcoming our second child, daughter Gwen, in a little over 6 months. We treated ourselves to a fabulously expensive meal at a French restaurant, and then went to a tiny club to listen to good jazz. I was only half joking when I told everyone the main reason for the trip was to give that dress an outing before I was “great with child”. I never worn it again.
What each of these dresses had in common was simply this: when I wore them I felt beautiful. That’s a powerful and rare feeling in a woman’s life. At least in this woman’s life.
I tried the dresses on in front of my bedroom mirror. Or I should say I tried to get them on. Anyone looking in the room would have thought from my contortions that I was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with an anaconda. I couldn’t get any of them zipped, and was forced to admit the truth: I will never wear these again. Not even if I drop 20 more pounds. My parts just don’t fit into the material the way they once did.
The fact is that this will never be the same body it was. I’ve got 20+ years and 2 kids under my belt – literally. And I’m ok with that. I am not the same person as I was then, or at least not the same version of myself. The sad thing would be if I hadn’t changed and grown over the years. The outside just reflects the inner change.
This is where I should say that I got rid of those useless clothes, choosing to declutter my closet and liberate my life. Nope. I carefully wrapped each back in its plastic shroud, climbed over the old boots and dust bunnies and put the memories back where they belong.
After I’m gone and my girls are cleaning out my closet, they’ll recognize the wedding and christening gowns as special. What about these 3 dresses? For me, the memories waft off these bits of fabric, more potent than the most costly perfume. My kids won’t be able to breathe those in. These clothes will be thrown in the Goodwill pile and their significance will die with me. Until then, I like knowing that little pieces of my history are there, ready to transport me back in time.
Did you think I was going to just leave you there, wallowing in maudlin sentiment? Nah. This story has an upbeat ending. I found a beautiful, blue and silver, short dress with so many sparkly beads and sequins on it I’m going to have to pass out sunglasses with each view. It’s a vintage, Oleg Cassini which only adds to my joy since one of my sister Lib’s nicknames for me is Peg-o-leg Cassini. The dress was barely used by a little old lady who only wore it to church. At least she was going to wear it to church, but didn’t end up going. The thing weighs about 20 pounds and she couldn’t get up out of her rocker in it. For a moment I felt bad when I thought about some sweatshop worker toiling over a guttering candle for thousands of hours to sew on all these sequins and bugle beads, probably for pennies. Then the great deal I got on the dress cheered me right up.
(This would be a perfect place for a tie-in comment about how I’ll be looking back and sighing about THIS dress in my closet in another 20 years when my boobs actually do reach my knees, except this dress won’t be in my closet. It’s so damn heavy it would break the closet rod.)
I also got glass slippers*, so I’m all set for the ball!
All I need is proper transportation – anybody got a pumpkin and some mice they can lend me?
* In the interest of full disclosure, the shoes are actually acrylic, but glass is a better fit for the metaphor I’m going with. Excuse me if I take a little poetic license here.