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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Special Occassion Dress

By Ruth Santer

I like clothes to be fun. I love seeing people show their individuality
through a creative outfit and a beautiful spring day feels more festive when
I¹m wearing a fabulous sundress. That being said, the past ten years of my
life, living in a small cow town, have been marked by a significant downward
trend in fanciness. I¹m a mom and I work at home and teach art at an
elementary school, and I¹ve been spending a lot more time in grubby yoga
pants than in the swirling miniskirts accompanied by cowboy boots that were
my signature style when I lived in New York City.  And I¹m 50 now.  Well,
51. I¹m not sure that look really works all that well any more.

But I still love to look at art and go to great performances, so when one of
my best friends suggested we make the trip to NYC to go to the Metropolitan
Opera for the premiere of an opera with a set designed by our favorite
artist, I said yes without a moment¹s hesitation.  Despite growing up on the
East coast and living in NYC for years, I¹d never been to the opera. ³But
what will we wear?² my friend asked, as we finalized plans.

I pondered it.  The tickets were a 50th birthday gift from another friend,
so I felt totally justified in splurging. And I knew just the place.
Although Davis is small, it has a few truly high-quality boutiques.  They
are the kind of places I¹d go out of my way to go to in a city four times
the size, and I love being able to bike there and check out the latest stash
of goodies. The party dress store carries clothes that make me feel
pampered, beautiful and feminine, precious commodities for a woman who
spends a lot of time cleaning up spilled paint.

The dress I found was perfect for my body and for the occasion. I love to
wear brown, but you need black for a night out in New York City, and this
dress combined them. It had a smooth velvet black bodice, a poofy brown
taffeta skirt and interesting hip detail where the two fabrics met that had
a slight, though not overwhelming, Renaissance feel.

I worried it would emerge from my suitcase crushed, and considered putting
it in a box like a wedding gown, but settled on rolling it up and it emerged
unscathed after my red-eye flight. We were staying with friends and felt
like little girls playing dress-up, as we got ready and paraded around for
each other before showing ourselves off to them. They were suitably
impressed by how elegant we both were, and sent us off in a cab from
Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan.

We got to the Met and I had to pose in front of the newly renovated fountain
that I had seen in so many movies. My friend was freezing, but I had my
grandmother¹s Persian lamb jacket and lace up spool-heel boots to finish off
my ensemble and could have stayed outside all night, enjoying the crowds and
the lights. She finally dragged me in and I noticed that the crowd was not
quite as dressed up as I¹d imagined.  This was a very avant-garde
performance, and it looked as though there were a lot of art and music
students who had saved up all year to attend. It wasn¹t the usual crowd,
perhaps, and we actually stood out and attracted lots of admiring looks. Not
an easy feat in New York!  We had amazing seats, the set was transcendent,
and afterwards we went downtown to the meatpacking district, which our
cabbie had informed us was the hip late night place for dinner. We certainly
stood out there!

Much later, as we got ready for bed in our room with a view of the Manhattan
skyline, I was sad to take off my dress.  I'd enjoyed buying it, I'd enjoyed
anticipating the event, and I'd loved wearing it and feeling powerful and
lovely.  Would I have another, equally worthy occasion? I hope so.

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