Dress Mid-Life for the Imperfect Finding of your Wedding or Something, cont.

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Part Whatever

I can’t help but feel that I’ve let you down.  By now, you’ve probably found yourself a wedding outfit that not only suits, but also fits you; with my luck, it even makes you feel good about yourself.

I’m sorry.

But listen: in case there’s a ghost of a chance* that you could still screw it up, I’d like to be the one to help make that happen.  Think of me as your virtual matron of honor, sitting outside the dressing room with a bottle of gluten-free vodka, singing the alto part of “Going to the Chapel” while the other customers go to call security.

But first: a quick recap.  You’re old-ish, you’re getting married, and you can wear pretty much anything you want (except an actual wedding gown).  You’ve done the self-evaluation, and you are now armed with a fairly accurate understanding of your own body-type.  And let’s say, for the purposes of not filling me with rage, that you are, in fact, not tall (and by “not tall” I mean that there are certain amusement park rides that you’re still not allowed on without an adult).

I should add that even though you’ve been running three miles a day for more than four years now, you’re still in Pittsburgh**, and you’re over fifty, and your body is never going to be what it was when you were 49.

So the first thing you need to do is choose an appropriate style icon/role model for your wedding-day look.  Given the self-evaluation above, might I suggest that a good choice for you would be someone petite, yet curvy, yet classy, like, say, Salma Hayek?

NO!  I might not!  That was a trick suggestion.  Did I say that you were classy?  I did not.

No, you want to look like someone petite, yet curvy, yet crazy, like, say, Helena Bonham Carter.

This should narrow your choices nicely: you’re going to want to find a boutique that sells lady-pirate clothes.  Or maybe peasant-girl clothes.  Or outfits for bargirls in the Wild Wild West.

Google all those terms, and narrow the search locally until you find the expensive boutique that is across the street from the even more expensive boutique where they were bitchy to you eleven years ago.

Go to the non-bitchy boutique.  Tell the boutique-store owner with the pink hair that you’re looking for a dress for a wedding, then giggle and say, “Well, for my wedding.”  It’s okay: everyone else in the boutique, if there is anyone else in the boutique, is, by definition, a little bit tragic and pathetic, too.

Try on all the size Small or Extra Small dresses in the store (there should be about seven). Turn sideways in the three-way mirrors, and squint.  Gather up all the extra material at your shoulders and pull the dress up to your ears, which is where the laced-up bodice should actually end.  Appreciate the effort the pink-haired boutique-store owner is making when she mentions that the dress is supposed to have a dropped waist, “though maybe not quite so dropped.”

Put back on the one dress that almost fits, and study your reflection carefully.  Ask yourself some tough questions: Does the color of the dress (yellow) flatter you?  Does the color of the dress (yellow) flatter anyone?  Does the color of the dress (yellow) flatter anyone who is sort of pasty and blue-eyed and middle-aged?  Are you comfortable knowing that the sheer panels at the bodice reveal not so much your cleavage, but your c-section scars?  Do the sleeves run past your hands to approximately your knees, if you don’t roll them up?  Did you mean, if you don’t roll your knees up?  If not, then why did you use the pronoun “them” after the word “knees,” and not the word “sleeves”?  Do you look hot in this dress, or are you having a flash?  Do you look like a buxom, frizzy-haired, age-spotted lady-pirate whose clothes don’t fit her, and if so, will your fiancé really want to marry that?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, do you remember which ones they were?

Are you sure it’s a good idea to have another shot of my vodka?

At this point, it is my duty as your virtual matron of honor to tell the pink-haired boutique-owner that you love the dress and would like her to hold it for you so you can check with your fiancé about the color (yellow), and ask her to hold it under the name “Mariah,” hoping that she doesn’t know that this is not your name but what you call the wind when you want to maintain its privacy.

Tomorrow: We buy a blue*** dress.

*But not a really scary ghost.

**Hint: stop running in circles, idiot.

***But not a green dress.  That’s cruel.

About Heather Aronson

Heather Aronson is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona way back in the 1980s and has put it to scant use ever since, publishing a few short stories in now-defunct magazines (including American Short Fiction) and storing a handful of novels in now-defunct boxes. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, in a new house with some of her children, her new husband, and a bunch of old stuff that totally doesn’t go together. Especially the cow creamers.

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