Exciting! I remember thinking facetiously as I ripped open the invitation to my father’s third wedding, which takes place in London this week – (hence journey from hell mentioned in previous post) – unable to repress the feeling of being every inch the middle-aged Cinderella, when it dawned on me I’d need a dress.
And not just any dress, but a cocktail dress.
To be followed by a loud fuck (!) and a serious wallow in ‘I’ve got nothing to wear-land’ when I also remembered who else from the fam was going and why I had zero chance of being one of the belles at this particular ball with stunning future step-mom, beautiful (much) younger sister, new potential sister-in-law (close in age to NC) and a couple of new step-sisters’ who are far from being wicked.
And then there’s the fact that I’m more of a leggings and tee kind of a girl.
And it was blatantly clear that the Pretty Woman moment where your man says ‘you need a dress’ and points you in the direction of the most expensive boutiques, just wasn’t going to happen.
Finding the perfect cocktail dress is testing at any stage of your life; at fifty-plus, it’s terrifying. You only have to look at some of the monstrosities at the recent Met Gala, where the women have money and stylists!
And I really fancied dressing to impress for what may be my father’s last wedding. I wanted the posh frock – something we rarely get the chance to wear out here in flip flop/thong land.
But eventually I got myself some Helen Mirren balls and decided to visualise myself as the fifty-something version of Kate Moss, rather than Olive Kitteridge.
And I actually started to feel excited. Right up until the finance Nazi got involved, rapped my knuckles by spelling out the impracticality of spending a fortune on a dress I would wear once, and came up with some ridiculous budget to aim for.
Which was obviously plain silly, because like fine wine, evening dresses don’t come cheap when you’re a woman of a certain year and size…and I’d used up my lace card at my father’s birthday party last year and just about every fucking cocktail dress in the shops was lace …and did I mention that it is a principle of mine never to buy from any shop that suggests my body is a size 14 rather than a 12, which narrowed my choice by about eighty per cent?
But not one to be defeated, I tried on a lot of dresses, growled in front of a lot of very unflattering changing room mirrors and swore that I would lose weight. But then…food. In desperation I even looked above budget, and if you have a caring, giving partner and $300-$500, I strongly recommend Myer’s Montique brand or Karen Millen as a great starting point.
But the thought of listening to the old man’s moans of grief when he checked out our bank statement was enough to bring me back to reality.
I couldn’t even decide on a colour. ‘Red’ made me look like I should be in the Pretty Woman cast, ‘maroon’ washed me out and ‘blue’ wouldn’t match my shoes. At one point I even hunted out an old Cue dress I’d worn for Melbourne Cup a few years ago, starved myself on cabbage soup for a week and cut my wine allowance by half – sadly, the zip on the side still refused to budget.
So this is the final result, ladies – a black and cream classic from Portmans at a very budget-friendly $99.95, which although really a work dress, I’m glamming up with some huge cream drop earrings. I’m still not sold on the floppy hat for the registry office, and it turns out that my half-priced raincoat from Gap is not waterproof, (so let us all unite and pray for uncommon occurrence in London of sunshine, please), but this girl IS going to that ball.
Photos patiently (!) taken by Kurt in exchange for a box of Goon.