Love/Hate Relationship: One Woman’s Search For A Dress

 

The saloon girl and octogenarian communities' one stop frock shop.

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.

Advertisements

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
This entry was posted in General Ramblings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Love/Hate Relationship: One Woman’s Search For A Dress

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    I think I’ve been to the First Circle of Hell boutique – must be a chain. Enjoy the ball, Cinderella!

    Like

  2. Ah, the things you do with markers. You are a superstar/rockstar/dancing-with-the-star for losing all that weight and then being able to find a dress. Yes, there is a wasteland/waistland between the “I weigh as much as a tiny little rosebud and will always be this way” market and the “Mother-in-law who ate Philadelphia” market. You’ve traversed it with your usual wit, wisdom, and total lack of dignity. I like that.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      it’s as if we don’t exist as a market. Where’s the subtle sexy, as opposed to the knock-you-over-the-head-with-my-body-parts sexy? What I like about you, Renee, is you make a total lack of dignity look good!

      Like

  3. You’ll be so fancy shmanzy in your vintage Oleg Cassini and acrylic glass slippers. Have fun at the ball. So glad you already feel beautiful and sparkling in it. I think your dress is destined to hang with your other Hall of Fame Closet of Beauties.

    Like

  4. k8edid says:

    Unfortunately, one of the things that no longer fit as I lose weight is my skin….sigh…

    Like

  5. gojulesgo says:

    “…engaged in a life-and-death struggle with an anaconda…” Haaa! Oh I’ve been there! So glad you found an amazing-sounding dress, although, I was going to say any dress is the right dress with a certain neon pink accessory… 😉

    And congrats again on the near-60-lb weight loss! You are a rock star!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I was going to go with a certain neon pink accessory, but I don’t think Cinderella wore one. Unless THAT was the reason why she turned back into a drudge at midnight – she lost her slap bracelet?

      Like

  6. Janu says:

    Ditch the fantasy about finding a special event, age appropriate dress that flatters. They don’t exist for the over 30 crowd. Go with a black pencil skirt that shows off your new slim hips & legs with a glitzy top or jacket. Paint on some smoky eyes and a new shade of lip color and you will be the belle of the ball.

    Like

    • Janu says:

      Shame on me…I did not read your entire post (It’s a work day, ok?). Glad you found something that you love! Please post a pic of you in the dress, k?

      Like

      • pegoleg says:

        This sounds like the voice of experience, and good advice for the next event. Since this is nominally a ball, and many women wear long gowns, I needed to go with something even more dressy. (S’ok to skim the blog – I’m just tickled you stop by!)

        Like

      • pegoleg says:

        Reaching back, back into the mists of time, it occurs to me that you babysat Liz for us when we gave the little black dress a night on the town, if I’m remembering that rightly?

        Like

  7. It would have been awesome if you had worn the bridesmaid’s dress. 🙂 Like you say, the new bod gives you a chance at a new wardrobe. Evening gowns are pretty unforgiving – you’ve got a bright future of clothes shopping ahead of you. And lest you get discouraged, remember that pretty much nobody can just pull on everything they try and look right in it. Saddlebags, hips, butts, belly-poufs, arm jiggle, back fat, fabric gaps, odd cuts… even skinny girls get the blues.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You speak with the wisdom of a revered crone of the tribe. I’ve struggled all my life with my weight, and it’s hard for me to truly realize that being thin isn’t the end of the struggle. Almost all women have issues, don’t we?

      Like

  8. Tori Nelson says:

    I love this post. I lost weight and the minute of joy “What!?! I get normal pants? Normal! Pants!” was squashed a little when I realized that I had lost weight but not necessarily gained a six pack or a fondness for glittery Jr.’s dresses 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I guess when we consider what we put our bodies through in the harboring and bringing forth of children, not to mention all that comes afterwards, we should be grateful we don’t end up looking like a Picasso (blue period).

      Like

  9. Another congrats on the weight loss! You are amazing, Peg. Any pictures? Hmm??

    It is very cruel that even when we lose weight, certain body parts just will never be the same again…things get rearranged. I am finally almost at the same weight I was before I got married, but after my two kids, my boobs seemed to have migrated to my butt and stomach.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I was looking at a recent issue of a magazine (People?) of people who have lost twice their weight, and where are they now for Biggest Loser, etc. I couldn’t help wondering if they are wearing industrial strength rubber dive suits under their snazzy new clothes to hold all the loose, jiggly stuff in? Big sigh.

      Good for you for getting in shape! You just have a women’s figure now, not a girl’s.

      Like

  10. Lenore Diane says:

    Score!! Glad you found a dress. No doubt you’ll be the Belle of the Ball.
    Before I learned you found the perfect item, I was thinking you could take the dresses from previous special moments and have someone create a special dress for you out of the other dresses. A sort of “Pretty in Pink” idea. (Assuming you’ve seen the movie.)

    P.S. I loathe shopping for clothes. Frankly, I loathe shopping for anything (other than ice cream).

    Like

  11. notquiteold says:

    I’m a little embarrassed that I can be sentimental over clothes – but I am. They carry so many memories and emotions. I actually got a little misty reading your post. I can so see you dancing in Chicago and celebrating your pregnancy in a French restaurant. Such sweet memories!

    Like

  12. Amy says:

    I got some Christmas money and went out shopping for some new clothes (which I haven’t purchased in forever) and didn’t find one darn think that I liked. You are so right that all clothes now are either for teenagers or my grandma. What happened to “normal” clothes?
    That dress sounds fabulous, by the way!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s even more depressing when you have good, cash money to spend and you can’t find anything.

      The dress is pretty fab. If I look OK when I’m all dolled up that night, I’ll take a picture and post it.

      Like

      • Spectra says:

        I am Soooo looking forward to that pic! The dress you found sounds truly wonderful…I am almost envious, but I don’t have any Balls on my agenda anytime soon. I love beading. And vintage. I think if I did have an event, I’d head straight for the one fine vintage dress shop we have in the area.

        P.S. glad you won your battle with that nasty anaconda.

        Meanwhile, BUILD ME A SNOWMAN please 😀

        Like

        • pegoleg says:

          I love vintage stores (which is the fancy way I have of referring to the Goodwill). We haven’t had any snow around here until yesterday, but now you’ve got me thinking. Hmmm.

          Like

  13. Angie Z. says:

    Hooray! You’re going to look stunning! Congrats on the weight loss and on finding a nice dress (neither are no simple feat).

    I agree that clothes hold such special meaning and on our banged-up aging bodies. I wear the same size I did in high school, yet when I recently tried on the red gingham hot pants I bought in Paris my senior year (the ones that made me feel so fashion-forward in a sea of Midwesten sweatpants), I realized the elephant skin hanging over the top was not the way I wore them 20 years ago.

    Like

  14. Big Al says:

    Observations about this blog:
    1. This is one funny blog.
    2. I thought that was your picture on the left. Sorry, my mistake.
    3. I once told someone it would be a cold day in Hell before I read anything about women’s fashion problems. (“Hey, Beelzebub, pass me that ice water, will ya?”)
    4. You are an incorrigible, nostalgic, sentimental soul. Welcome to the club. We meet on Tuesday mornings.
    5. This is reason #28 on the list of 100 reasons why it’s better to be a guy. We would simply wear a rented tux. (Haven’t we been over this before, Peg?)
    6. We’d better see a picture of this momentous occasion!!!

    Like

  15. lexiemom says:

    So funny! I can totally relate, and I see myself contorting to get into those college day jeans I’ll never wear again, but just can’t throw out because of the memories.
    Have fun at the ball!!

    Like

  16. And once you lose a little weight, you hope to lose more and it’s hard to buy clothes knowing they might not fit in another two months. I once lost 15 pounds but it took me another year to lose another 10 and I resisted buying any clothes that fit the whole year.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      No, not at all. That’s a guy response. Women get a whole new wardrobe after 15 pounds, totally ok with the thought that we’ll need another whole new wardrobe 10 pounds down the line.

      Like

      • Spectra says:

        Not me…I think like GG – I wait, and wait…and wait – sure the rest will come off soon. But it always takes a year to get the last 10 lbs off! THEN I buy one new pair of jeans. That’s it.

        Like

  17. winsomebella says:

    Very cool that you are wearing such a snazzy dress on that skinny, hot pegoleg body. Have fun.

    Like

  18. The O-Leg Cassini dress sounds gorgeous!! Can’t wait to see the pics, glad you found the perfect frock!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      The problem is, now I’m going to have to ask somebody to take a picture of me, which sounds so vain, and then I’m going to stand there like a doofus, not knowing where to look or what to do with my hands. Prepare for the dressed-up-doofus picture!

      Like

  19. pattisj says:

    Some people have surgery after a big weight loss to reign in all that extra flesh. I hope we get to see pictures of you in your new dress. It sure is a lot harder to get pounds off than putting them on. Congrats on your loss! I think it’s great that you’ve kept your special dresses.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      After the first sentence, I thought you were going to say “I hope we get to see pictures of your..flesh-reigning surgery.” I was gonna say “sure! If I can get contributions from the blogosphere, I’ll gladly have a tummy tuck and tell all about it.”

      Like

  20. I know what you mean about sexy and appropriate fancy dresses for women in their prime (50’s). I’m glad you found something to make you feel beautiful. I’m sure you’ll be the belle of the ball (just stay away from the mirror ball in that dress–you’ll have people thinking their retinas are detaching!). 🙂

    Like

  21. Pegoleg! You said such nice things today at my bloggie today, I had to come over and say hello! So I guess Deb sent me! Holy Crimminy! Sixty pounds is amazing! I know what you mean about not being able to find the dress though. We get this idea in our heads about what we look like and kind of keep gravitating toward a certain kind of clothes. Meanwhile, the world is open to you! I hope you have a friend with whom you can do a big shop to replace some of those *ahem* things in your closet. I find shopping so much more enjoyable with a trusted friend with me to gently push me away from some of the things I might have worn in my 20s that I have no business wearing at 45. Have a wonderful time… at the Ball, princess! May you dance the night away.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks, Renee. I’m so glad you stopped by!

      I’ve never been good at shopping with a friend, even when I was 13 and it was mandatory. It’s hard to know how honest to be, and trust that they’re being (brutally) honest with you.

      Like

  22. Barb says:

    I wandered into a fancy dress boutique last month. I didn’t buy anything, I just wanted to feel like I was the type of gal who needed a gown for the Emmys. Everything was shoulderless. Good grief, I don’t have enough cleavage to wear something that doesn’t hang from my shoulders. When I inquired about other styles, the sales woman showed me 4 dresses huddling in a corner. They looked like mumus. So it’s a miracle you found a great dress. Enjoy the ball. Anyone who drops 60 pounds deserves a tiara, too.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Oh, thank you Barb! I was really wanting a tiara, but I was afraid it wasn’t quite in style nowadays. Now that I’ve got your fashion okey-dokey, I’m going with major princess bling! 🙂

      I’m so with you with the strapless. Even if you have cleavage, I don’t understand what keeps the dress up. What I don’t understand, I don’t trust. I feel the same way about airplanes.

      Like

  23. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    No, your children might not appreciate the dresses from your past, but I bet some consignment shop people would! Would love to see a photo of your sparkly, shiny dress!

    Like

  24. I still wear half my high school wardrobe, which is very unfortunate.
    Because it means I still look like a scrawny high school kid.
    An aging scrawny high school kid.
    Though any day now my neck will be as wide as my head and I’ll be able to bench-press a small car, though…
    Really.
    Any day now…
    🙂

    Like

  25. Every year get stuck with the problem of finding something to wear to the Christmas party. I agree with you completely. The stores have nothing! One year I got frustrated and actually altered a green, velvet bathrobe and wore it as a jacket over a blouse and a long skirt. I just stitched the collar and the area with the button holes under, then removed the buttons. You would not believe how many compliments i got. Women kept asking where I got the beautiful jacket. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.

    Like

  26. Margie says:

    There are a couple of dress shops in the city near us that specialize in beautiful modern clothes for people who can afford such things. The manufacturers even vanity size them, which I think is stupid, but it appeals to many women. Anyhow, when their stuff goes on sale, it is a shoppers paradise for older, cheapskates like me!

    Like

  27. egills says:

    I did the opposite last weekend and decided it was time to go through my wardrobe and recycle all the clothes I have that don’t fit any more…. down side was I now have hardly any clothes 😦

    Oh that reminds me I really should get a move on and find a wedding dress!

    Looking forward to seeing a photo of you in that dress – it sounds lovely.

    Like

  28. Pingback: Thursday Thoughts | Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s