I have a black tie event tomorrow. I am not all that excited about it. I guess I'm jaded. I usually go to at least four such dinners a year, and unlike my male co-workers, unfortunately I cannot continue to wear the same thing over and over.
Sounds like gender discrimination that women can't appear in the same dress each time while men just pull out their tuxes, eh?
But, ya' see, I've tried. I've tried wearing the same thing over and over. I bought this cute -- and here's the operative part -- REALLY CHEAP long dress a few years ago. It cost me something like $35, and I wore it to this same dinner last year, another annual dinner in May and a convention gala. I have now spent more money to get it dry cleaned than to purchase it, and I've definitely gotten my mileage out of it. Not only is it comfy and elegant enough to be appropriate for these shindigs (and let's not forget cheap), but it was also a style that suited my figure and my self-image. For all these reasons, it is a great dress.
However, since I can't wear that dress again to this dinner, I had to buy something else for tomorrow night. I have several long, elegant black skirts, so I thought I'd just get a nice blouse or jacket to wear with one of them. I have several black tops that would have been just fine, but I wanted to wear a bit o' color -- well, because I like wearing color.
My criteria: comfy, attractive and relatively cheap. So I tried on all of these tops and found one I liked. Amazingly enough, it also made me look like I had a waistline (definitely an optical illusion). So I bought it. It fit the bill for fit, color and comfort, and it wasn't too expensive (although, since I'm such a bargain hound, I paid more for this relatively cheap top than I did for the designer skirt that I may wear with it).
So what's my problem?
I realized that this top -- elegant though it is -- is the kind of blouse that an "older woman" would wear. Some might say "sophisticated" but I think the style is something that women who are in their 40s or 50s or older tend to love, not someone youthful like me (keeping in mind that I look 10 years younger than I am). But of course, I AM that age, despite the any self-delusions to the contrary, and I guess, well I am just having a hard time pushing my self-image from a young-looking 30-something to... my age. Certainly, I don't have an issue with my age per se (despite the prodding from my grandmother to get married), but because I lead a single life without responsibilities to anyone but myself, my self image has not gotten any older even though I have. So I sorta kinda need to reconcile my image with my age.
This is why I'll probably be getting rid of all my short skirts. A while ago, I realized that they just don't suit me anymore (clue #1). One of those makeover shows advises "no miniskirts after 35"... and while I generally don't buy into fashion rules so much, I am starting to realize that I have to present an image in accordance with my age, at least in the workplace (and this event is work-related).
The top will look nice, but it and I are definitely out of the realm of "cute" (even though I never liked that word anyway).