“The Outfit”

Another from our KFW Group:

My High School Reunion Outfit!!!!!

I know which one it is, I know which one it is! (giddy with excitement, jumping up and down, sillily) It came to me instantly, no other outfit even came close to coming up!

It was 1994 and I was preparing for my 20th high school reunion. I was working at Hospice of Petaluma in California, far – in way more than miles – from the life I lived back on Long Island where I had lived from early elementary school ’til early college. And where I was headed for the Reunion. At HOP, I worked with the most amazing people – some women who are still my closest friends. Of course there was plenty of input about attire, as there was on a daily basis – we called it “Fashion Assessments” and while often fun, playful and flattering, it could also be brutally honest. We were generous with the compliments and with letting each other know when grave errors in judgment had been made.

“Did you look in the mirror this morning before you came in here?

Of course I did, what’s the problem?

And still, there was some part of you that thought you looked fine in … that?

Well yes, I don’t get it.

For starters, that shirt doesn’t work at all with those pants and what’s with the shirt underneath being longer than the one on top (waaaaay before that was the fashion)?

Well, I like it that way.

You may like it, but I don’t and it looks ridiculous. What do you think (talking to the rest of the team) – should we let her go see patients today?

Yeah, well, why not, at least then we won’t have to look at that crazy outfit.”

You get the idea.

Anyway, I was slimming down, back in the days when I was pretty slim to begin with and also back before the days when I was so invested in ego awareness. I sort of liked my ego, actually, and it was pretty filled up with feeling like I was looking good and feeling good about the stellar life I had; and I wanted all those Long Island people to think so, too. I needed the perfect outfit and I was determined to find it.

My normal shopping haunts were places like Ross and Mervyn’s, ever the budget shopper I’ve always been. But now I was throwing budget to the wind as I headed down to Marin County and to – of all places – Nordstrom’s. Nordstrom’s. I had never bought anything in Nordstrom’s. I had never even been in a Nordstrom’s. But all that was about to change. I needed to consult the Fashion Assessment team just to find the place.

In no time, I had my own personal shopping assistant and she went right to work. She was eager to help transform me into the Reunion Queen, even if my place amongst these high school chums was far away from the Queen of anything, Homecoming certainly included. And of course, the perfect outfit revealed itself as soon as I put it on.

I’m not sure whether it’s the outfit I loved as much as I loved the size. 8. Size 8 and it fit me like a glove. And not a tight glove, either. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve been a size 8? Well, I didn’t either until I started writing this, but I guess it’s been since … oh, since about 1994.

It was fancy, but not overly so. Sexy, but not over-the-top. I didn’t want to look like I was showing off, even if I was. Especially if I was. I slipped it over my head and knew immediately this was the dress. Just above the knee, a slightly flaired skirt and three layers of varying length fabric from the hips down. A very form-fitting fabric underneath that clung to my – even at a size 8 – still curvaceous hips. Diaphanous, silky-feel fabric of dark browns, gold, burnt red and oranges, with sparkly thread running through. Thin straps and a scooped neckline with a form-fitting bodice. It came with a jacket of the same material for the likely air-conditioned room in the middle of a New York summer. This was the outfit. She asked me what I thought. I smiled at her broadly and said yes, I’ll take it.

I hadn’t even bothered to look at the price tag.

I could hardly wait to bring it back to the Team for what I was sure would be their overwhelming applause and approval. I was not disappointed.

My hair was long then, longer than it’s been ever since – thick, dark brown and very curly and wavy. The dress colors were a perfect compliment to my olive complexion and my long, beautiful hair. How can I remember this all so clearly?

It was just a few months ago when I was scanning old photos and came across one from the Reunion. Damn, I looked hot! Never, I tell you never, do I like photos of myself. But that one is sizzling. It even got me to start growing my hair again. The size 8 … well, who knows, maybe I’ll see it again, maybe I won’t.

But that outfit? Not a chance. Years ago, after too many dormant years in the closet, I folded it up and shipped it off to Goodwill. I only hope it’s given such pleasure to someone else.

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