What to wear when you “dress up” in your sixties and after comes with caveats for most of us. I do not go to the gym nearly enough to have great arms. Or legs. Or dammit, even a midrif! Sag and flab abounds, even though I am a former jogger who once had a 24-inch waist and slid into size fours. Now they are a distant memory even though I swear I am going to lose five/ten pounds and if I do, I know I will be happy for the rest of my life. Anyway, not for anyone am I exposing arms or midrif in public, and no matter how some women feel about exposing boob tops, after a certain age, letting them see the light of day, in public, is too obvious for my taste. It’s trying too hard. Besides, we are talking winter here.
But in the meantime, what to wear to cocktails, six to eight, in the Hamptons. It’s not all glam as any readers of People magazine might assume–if you do not hang with the crowd the paparazzi is after, it’s way more laid back. Cocktail parties among my friends–writers, editors, literary agents, photographers and artists–are quite often casual. Like the other night.
But we’re not talking sweats and Lulu Lemon here; it was still rather dress up, which does mean different things to different people and in different places. Despite not needing a totally all-out glam outfit, I still had one heck of a time getting ready. My constant companion has learned to be patient. He’s only one sweater change–or add a blazer–away from “Ready!” Which of course is so irritating. And this night, problems abounded. One top was too revealing, with another the broad neckline revealed the Kimora top I had put on to hold the line on flab, which would never do. (I must not have needed the Kimora* last time I wore it.) Another outfit felt too fussy, another felt too dowdy, and another–egads, did those last five pounds make that much difference? Oui. It was sad.
The clock was ticking. Constant companion is a patient man, but then, he is a man who is always ready ahead of time. He once confessed he went to a dinner party (before me, naturallement!) ten minutes before the appointed hour and the hostess answered the door in her bathrobe, forever curing him from arriving early anywhere other than the airport. (That is another story.) This night, six o’clock came and went and I was still trying on and rejecting…until I popped on a very dark hunter green–the same tonal quality as “midnight blue”–mock turtle top in stretchy velvet that covered my butt. I pulled on some black velvet pants–also stretchy, thank god. This outfit did require the use of a Kimora top–to smooth out my midrif. But itself, the outfit of dark green and black was too severe, too Robin Hood, even in velvet.
I added two gold chains of varying lengths, one with my grandmother’s watch, another with a locket–but still felt, well, dowdy. Too plain. Too boring. Into my collection of scarves I went, coming up with a color-blocked YSL silk square that is large enough to swaddle a baby in, if that was one’s predilection, or wrap into a sarong.
It measures 54 inches on a side. Formidable. In truth, I have never been able to figure out how to use it because of its size, but when I saw it at a yard sale for ten bucks, who could resist? Not I.
Yes, it is unfair that I live here, but hey! all of life is “unfair.” It just is. What is great about the Hamptons or any place where the very wealthy are nearby–are the thrift shops and yard sales, of which you will hear more in time. (Zoozig is a big fan of thrift shops.) Anyway, one one-percenters toss away is pure gold to this woman. I would have loved it if the scarf had more gold in it–I am a blonde, and light colors work well, especially after a certain age–but I have to work with what I have, right? I popped the scarf over my shoulders and felt, if not totally glam, glam enough.
Happily, the party was only ten minutes away and we were still among the early arrivers. This is often a good thing, because this gives you a chance to talk to the hosts and let them introduce you to folks you may not know. Arrive late, and you have to break into the crush, usually on your own. Now admittedly, there were way way more expensive items and outfits in the room, but this held its own. It slid right in.
*A Kimora is a top and bottom (if you like) that sucks in the odd bits of flesh and flab you didn’t realize were quite so noticeable before you put on something sleek. I saw a TV infomercial on these garments and bit. I am hooked! Though there are some nay-sayers on the Internet who are not happy with theirs, they likely bought the wrong size, or just don’t like the sense of being, uh, bound. I don’t mind it–think tight bathing suit–and find mine work incredibly well when I want to look, if not the same size as I was a decade ago, firm and sleek. I have one in neutral and another in black. And this is not a paid advertisement.