I think there is a regimen that most women put themselves through when they’re shopping for clothes, especially when the purchase will be worn in a situation where we really want to make a good impression – a job interview, a fancy work party, or, egad, a first date. I look at magazine ads or pictures in catalogs and somehow get an idea that if I wear the dress the model has on I will look like the model. Even knowing that I don’t have long, straight, perfectly styled hair or a flawless complexion or well-proportioned limbs and other sundries (read boobs). But the most mystifying question is why I think a dress on a 5’ 10” 120 pound model will look the same on a 5’6” 175 pound woman.
The party at Chris’s was only two weeks away. I made myself an appointment to get my hair cut and my nails done and flipped through every catalog that came in the mail looking for an outfit that would make me look sophisticated. I couldn’t decide whether to be optimistic and order a size twelve or realistic and order a fourteen. I finally gave it up and went to the mall.
I tried a department store and hauled six outfits into the dressing room. Outfits one and two were too big on the top, too small on the bottom. My hips took on a life of their own in outfit number three. Four and Five were great on the hanger and ugly on my body. Outfit number six was polka dotted. I always try on polka dots. I’m not sure why.
I wandered out of the department store and window shopped. I did my very best not to look at the display in Finnegans. They have adult clerks, beautiful clothes and high price tags. My phone rang as I stood, drooling over a fussy, chocolate brown pant suit in Finnegan’s window.
“Hey. What are you doing?” Chris asked.
“Shopping for an outfit to wear to your parent’s anniversary party.”
“So far, everything is ugly, too expensive, or I’m too old or fat to be seen in it.”
“I don’t believe that for one second.”
“What did you do today?”
“I spent the day with my uncle at the office.”
“How did that go?”
“Good. I think I’m going to do it. He does a whole lot more than I ever expected. It’s a huge responsibility. He’s got a great staff, but the final decisions will be mine.”
“You sound excited.”
“I am. Lots of suit and tie stuff which I haven’t done for years. Lots of connections to make. Big shoes to fill, but I think I’m going to take a shot at it.”
“You sound worried, too.”
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “I don’t want to screw up.”
“You won’t. I think you’re going to be great at it.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow, honey,” he said. “You get back to your shopping. I love you.”
“I’ll talk to you then.”
I closed my cell phone with a snap. I thought about what Chris had said about suit and tie stuff and guessed his parents’ anniversary party would be his maiden voyage as the new Goodwich Foundation director. More outfit pressure. I needed help. Real help. I marched into Finnegan’s.