I'm Strictly a Female Female
I’ve always loved big, froofy, extravagant gowns. Frilly, sparkly, shimmery…full, sweeping, dramatic. You name it, if it’s evening wear, I’m like a pyro at a fireworks stand. Bridal magazines? I used to hoard them. Miss America and Miss USA? Didn’t miss a single broadcast in high school and college. If an event I attended even hinted at the need for evening wear, I was consumed with finding the perfect dress. I still have the gown I wore in the 1997 Senior Miss Cabot pageant. It hangs in my closet, and no matter how outdated it is, or how impossible it is for me to zip up now, I cannot get rid of the thing. I have the burgundy velvet and taffeta strapless ball gown that my younger sister wore in the same pageant that year. I’m definitely not getting that one zipped up, but I also refuse to toss it. The black Ralph Lauren gown I wore for a dinner party four summers ago. The royal blue bridesmaid dress I wore in Amy’s wedding. The killer halter I bought for Miami last year. A dress from this dance and that banquet…I keep them all. To me, they’re not just dresses; they’re pieces of art…part of a collection that tells a story. Even just occasionally glancing at them when I open that closet can take me back to when I was 17, and after years of comparing myself to my beautiful best friend and the other girls we went to school with, I stood in front of the mirror in my black velvet gown and thought, Wait a second. I’m pretty.
See, that’s the thing – I love putting on a splendid dress and spending an entire evening feeling gorgeous. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to being Queen (I don’t think Prince Harry is my type), and it reinforces the idea that the occasional escape from the commonplace is still possible, that there are still moments when we can pretend to live in a world where only beauty exists.
I enjoy this so much that I once pretended to be engaged so I could try on wedding dresses. Granted, I was head over heels in like with a boy from McCrory. It was freshman year, I was 18, and I figured being infatuated was close enough to having a ring. In truth, I really thought we’d eventually be married. Because at 18, I had it all planned, right? As my friend and I walked into the bridal shop that day, she said, “You know, it’s bad luck to try on wedding gowns if you’re not engaged.” I rolled my eyes at her and continued on to the fitting rooms. And here I am, 13 years later…whatever. All I’m saying is, it’s fun to dress up.
So it’s too bad that events are becoming more and more casual, that the dinner I bought a gown for two years ago now only requires a cocktail dress. Don’t get me wrong – cocktail dresses can be fun, too – but the next thing you know, I’ll be getting an invitation that says “Business Casual” on it. Heaven help! Why don’t we all just throw on our Wranglers and head down to the Sizzler??
No thanks. I’m going to insist on continuing to get dressed up, even if I have to put on a gown and stand on my front porch. I think I know some folks who would be just crazy enough to stand with me.