Finding the happy medium between Matron and Floozy

IMG_2272I live in a little big town and don’t have occasions for cocktail dresses but this summer I found myself in need of a cocktail dress. Now before you feel sorry for me, thinking I don’t possess a single cocktail dress let me assure you have a several. I just didn’t like the way I looked in them

Who the Hell knew shopping for a cocktail dress would be so painful? I had a very strict budget of less than $150 and it had to work with shoes I already have. But that wasn’t the cluster fuck:  Finding dresses that didn’t make me look like a Mother of the Bride or worse a pathetic old thing trying to recapture her lost youth were the bigger hurdles.

I’m not one to shop with a posse of women nor would I ever in a MILLION years subject a male partner to shopping for something so specific. Nope, I go out on my own and just get it done. But isn’t technology grand? My best friend was away and so I sent her pictures of the dresses that didn’t make me want to cry for my lost youth or puke. After dress number five she let me know she was sitting in a hotel bar with a couple of men and they were also offering opinions. Fantastic, dressing room selfies shared with strangers. Good thing I didn’t get ridiculous and naughty, huh?  I was horrified at first but these guys proved to be very helpful. It was good to have a man’s opinion. Especially a man’s opinion that wasn’t something in the range of: “Oh honey you always look good so just find something you like. . .” Because that’s what my loyal and very astute boyfriend would tell me.

My selections in the dressing room that night ranged from sequins which wore me and screamed “Here’s the Mother of the Groom and she is pissed at her new daughter-in-law” Scuba knit dresses which cling to me in all the right places and show off my work at the gym but I was worried the air of desperation these dresses take on would clash with my lipstick. I found some nice lace dresses but they were more for the polite cocktail party at the country club rather than a debauched evening in New Orleans. The dresses I selected that were vaguely age appropriate–if you squinted real hard–from the junior’s department made me look trashy and pathetic. Most “fit and flair” dresses make me look like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Not a good look on anyone. I was about to give up when I tried on a lovely empire lace bodice and black a-line dress. Very simple, no flashy bling or daring decollete. I loved it and had a little happy dance in the dressing room before I sent it to my friend and our new best friends at the bar in Memphis. They loved it, too! Woohoo! Mission accomplished.  I could send back the other FOUR dresses I had purchased online and go home with this one.

When did buying cocktail dresses or any dress for that matter become so hard. I hate the loud prints in cheesy polyester. Whatever happened to a simple silk sheath in a subtle print that doesn’t look like the inside of an acid fueled Hunter S. Thompson dream?

And I’m not necessarily super preppy and Lands End wear makes me look like an aging gym teacher. Nor do the flowing Eileen Fisher type things suit me. Plus I don’t spend 195 bucks on blouses. And big nope to the hippy gauze skirts with earrings touch my shoulders. Not a baby boomer and not a hippy.

Good thing I work from home because I can wear my usual skinny jeans and tee shirts or my shorts and tee shirts. Or nothing. (I’m gonna let y’all guess if I really work naked…) Good thing my life is casual and jeans with a nice tee shirt or cotton blouse works just about everywhere I go…except events in New Orleans.

I think I better start the process all over again for the cruise next spring. I have seven months to start buying and exchanging dresses. That should be enough time and I’ll be whipped in a frenzy of indecision well before I have to pack a bag and just take everything like I did this summer.

Any ideas for making this process of dressing to bridge the gap between matronly and trashy would be appreciated.


About Laura

When my nest emptied I moved from the big city to a little big town to tend to a ramshackle yellow house on the edge of town. These are my Yellow House Days.
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12 Responses to Finding the happy medium between Matron and Floozy

  1. Betty Clark says:

    Wear what is comfortable. You’re beautiful.


  2. Laura Ehlers says:

    OMG! and LOL! The thought of sharing dressing room photos with strangers at a bar is both hilarious and terrifying and completely something I can see myself doing to a friend! But only in a supportive manner! It is good to see I am not alone in the dressing like a woman my age, but nicely, dilemma. Congrats on finding that perfect dress. And best wishes on shopping for your future plans!


  3. I feel ya with the shopping thing. I can never find dresses… but I hate to shop too, so… my bad.


  4. bethhavey says:

    Laura, this is me–loving that I work at home and can wear jeans and that white shirt. Never feeling JUST RIGHT in a dressing room where the pile of try-ons gets bigger and bigger. Yes, I guess patience and time are the only cure. I have a friend who used to fill up her trunk with things to return. I can’t do that! But when I recently had to buy a “gown” for my brother’s wedding, I took a friend with me. It helped a lot.


  5. I love the fact that I don’t have to “dress” very often. Hell, most days I see no need to change out of pajamas (I really need to work on that one). Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only who practices “safe-shopping” and prefer to go at it alone. I hate to shop worse than anything and this is exactly why! They don’t have a department for somewhere between puberty and menopause.


  6. Oh, it’s so challenging isn’t it? I see some women, like middle-aged actresses, who look amazing and I wonder where they actually FIND those clothes? Tailored but not preppy. Fun but not too young. Age-appropriate but not matronly. I’m glad you found something. And don’t get me started on SHOES…


  7. Laurie O says:

    I HATE dress shopping and I can relate to everything you said. I’m a bit top heavy (not always a good thing), so it’s even more difficult for me to find a dress that works. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that feels this way. That’s why l’m wanting to share my admiration for your keeping it real blogging style. As a rookie blogger, I’ve learned and found connection with others and you’re someone I support, so I thought you might want to participate in an award I nominated you for – the info is on my post here.


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