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What Not To Wear

I would like to believe that I have gotten a hold of my body image issues somewhere along these 30 years (how sad is it that my stepfather actually scolded me for being fat when I was five) and also have thrown a lot of money at my collective wardrobe to soothe any lingering doubt. And then there are episodes that make me think that I still have miles to go before I sleep.

For some reason, our friends’ annual Christmas party always fills me with dread. At some point, I ended up being the fashionista in our little group, so there was a heady reputation to live up to, and on the other hand, Esteban reminds me that the majority of our social circle doesn’t know or doesn’t follow the rules for cocktail fashion and usually several of them come in whatever they put on when they got up in the morning. Or they put on a nice pair of trousers but then pair them with white athletic shoes because they could not buy a clue if they tried. Except that I know this is Wisconsin and white athletic shoes are considered the Levi jean of footwear. Except that no, it isn’t. Guys can get away with pairing a velvet blazer with a pair of jeans ONLY if they wear appropriate shoes. That is a statement. Gym shoes with black trousers? That’s the lead singer in a generic 80’s video, not a fashion statement.

And don’t even get me started on the black pants, white socks and black shoes thing. I can actually hear the rationalization in my head “Well, I’m not going to take off my shoes, so nobody should notice.” Except, hello, your pants are way too short. Men, please buy longer pants. You look like idiots–with or without appropriate socks.

This is not to say that this is a casual affair. I’m taking the cue from the host by dressing beyond a typical Saturday at the pub. And while in San Francisco visiting the Igigi boutique, I bought this completely adorable cocktail dress. In fact, it wasn’t even on the sales floor and Ozlem dug through the warehouse in order to find one for me. I had been absolutely in love with the dress since it appeared on Igigi’s site and was really looking for any excuse to buy it. The Christmas party seemed like a good excuse.

However, on Saturday morning, the reality dawned that this dress was so perfect, so completely beautiful that I would be excessively overdressed in that crowd. There is such a thing as raising the bar and making a statement, but at some point, you’re being just as much of an asshole as someone who shows up in paint-spattered ragged jeans. And I think that cute cocktail dress would push me into that category, considering that I might be sitting next to someone in track pants.

What is more, Esteban is hyper-sensitive about my goodies being oggled by his single guy friends, of which there are many. And just as many pieces of my wardrobe that highlight my better assets. Between the decently modest but inappropriate dressy outfits and the hootchie of hootchness outfits, I was pretty limited. Finally, I decided upon a wrap top that could be alternately modest or a tease, depending on how I tied it. While doing my hair, I didn’t like how the top was clinging. By then, I had reached the point of hating everything in the world and had decided that I had the body of a corpulent toad. At that point, I may or may not have then thrown myself across my bed, atop a pile of previous rejects, declared to an empty room that I wouldn’t be going and then sulked for a good fifteen minutes. Then I got back up, finished my make up and dealt with the rest of my hair, which was being a stubborn ass and wouldn’t go into a quirky chignon. I’m going to have to figure out better ways to finesse this length, because it’s not as forgiving with the updo as the previous length.

While I was cursing my hair, Esteban came in and told me to put on one of the previous outfits, one with lots of peek a boob action and apologized for acting like a caveman sometimes. I wasn’t going to take his advice, but then watching the shirt ride up again, I gave up on the updo and also put on a longer but more boobsome top. Sometimes, you just have to know when to give in.

At the party, Joel had set up a slide show of the pictures from previous years and I watched myself fluctuate by 70 pounds over the last 9 years. According to this pictorial record, my slimmest look was 2003, although there are no pictures of me standing in 2002, I seem to remember that was my actual lowest weight. I’m afraid to see the pictures from this year, although hopefully the girls will capture the eye and no one will look at the size of my ass.

Well, it works for opera singers.

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