One time in college, I spent my hard-earned money on a fancy dress that I planned to ride to three black-tie events. The store did not have my size, but they measured me for almost forty minutes to alter a larger dress to my size, including my request for room to eat a solid meal.
I picked the altered dress up on my way to the first event in Boston. The person who altered the dress did not leave any room to eat. It was quite snug, but I had to get to the party. Because I rolled in a little late, I had to dress in the parking garage at Copley Place. By the end of dinner, my tits were climbing up my neck, and my breathing was impaired. I had to excuse myself from the table to walk around breathing deeply so my chest would ease back into the dress.
When the lights came up after a night of dancing, the people around me backed away, eyes wide. My stockings were shredded, and my hair was haywire. The velvet on the front of the dress was crimped in all directions after fighting with my substantial rib cage, jouncing breasts and layer of frosting. The real topper was that the puffy 80s sleeves were completely blown apart with threads sticking up and my bare, unfeminine shoulders exposed like the Incredible Hulk.
Thankfully, the store gave me a credit to buy a dress for the next event. This time I went loose on top and fitted on the bottom with a slit for room to dance with some lateral movements. The dress style required that I either get a bra that had a complicated hooking system that would tour all around my body to hold it in place OR some glue on cups. I went with the glue on cups but managed to stick them on off kilter for my sister’s rehearsal dinner. I went with it. The beauty of a wedding is that people are dealing with their own outfit and focused on the bride rather than the scrappy Maid of Honor and her odd set of boobs.
Unfortunately, one of the cups dislodged along with half the skin on my ribcage, so I ended up dancing with breasts jangling uncomfortably. Once again, I was relying on people’s alcohol consumption and the fact that they are usually preoccupied enough with their own uncomfortable dress to notice. By the beginning of the last song, the slit in my dress was split to the top of my ass crack. A slip was in place (shocker), but the dress could not go another round.
After borrowing a comfortable, loose fitting dress for the third event, I knew I had to reconsider how I shopped for formal outfits. As the years went on, I found myself climbing fences, walking through the woods and riding in car trunks at various formal events. My outfits needed to be industrial strength, flexible and comfortable. I also shifted to the idea that color and style had to be less of a priority for me.
I attended a beautiful wedding weekend at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee last weekend. I needed lady clothes for several events as well as a formal dress for the wedding. I stepped into the store as I always do: wearing my uniform of jeans, old running sneakers, a Patriots hat, a “dress tee” (no writing or logos) and a linty fleece top. The women who sell dress clothes are trained to not take women like me seriously. They take one look at the shoes, and they feel sad for me. And they don’t really hide it. I am used to this. And I can always disarm them with my straightforward approach and clear criteria.
I have seen a sneer dissolve into delight many times when I say, “I am looking for a dress for a formal event. Because I want it to be right, I am not going to worry about the price (within reason). I would like it to look appropriate for the occasion but still be comfortable. Here are my three criteria:
1. I eat the food. All of it. I need room for some expansion
2. I dance with gusto (demo a few moves) and have blown out some dresses
3. And it needs to be comfortable enough for me to be able to climb a fence in a pinch. NOT a small fence that holds in the lower animals like sheep or goats. I want to be able to tuck the dress in my underwear and get over a chain link fence if I must. This kind of thing occurs fairly regularly for me.”
The purchase of this last dress went really well. When I got to the part about the fence, a huge smile broke over her face as she hopped into action. She found five amazing dresses I had overlooked on my first tour. She talked about each of them and despite my reluctance, encouraged me to try them on to feel their comfort. She was an expert. They were all comfortable, but the stumpy troll appearance would have been a stretch on a couple of them. She hadn’t seen my skier thighs. Then I put on a The Dress. I felt naked in it and could move in any direction feeling comfortable. It was a fence climber. Then she showed her true expertise and understanding of customers. She demonstrated how the material of the dress was made to be crumpled in a ball inside a suitcase and shake out ready to roll without ironing. SOLD to the lady in the dirty fleece.