Ah, high school reunions. What to wear in the face of remembered adolescence, undeniable aging, and a flutter in the heart?
The Grande Dame doesn’t attend these things. She throws a shindig, people come to her. Or not. She’s learned to pretend she doesn’t care. She does fly East for the significant Smith and Vassar reunions, but so many of her classmates participate in her fund-raising efforts it’s only right.
Nor will you find many Artsy Cousins in the undifferentiated crowd. Ms. Artsy got out of town as soon as she could, and spent the summer in Istanbul. When the event is moved to Ha Noi, she’ll consider showing up.
But the Sturdy Gal, she who follows every rule, some that haven’t even been written, she is there. In the gym, the auditorium, the local Hyatt ballroom. And even our Gal knows she’s got to put aside her favorite corduroys and get Dressed.
Imagine a return for the 40th reunion. We are not yet 60. We are no longer 45. We are still women.
What rules should our Gal follow here? Let’s deconstruct her possible goals.
- Look beautiful
- Show no sign of the effort it might have taken to look beautiful
- Evince desire
- Show no signs of trying to evince said desire
- Dress to manage fluctuating temperatures, brought about by over-enthusiastic air-conditioners, or throngs of sweaty dancers
- Avoid foot pain at all costs
Her rules, then, as follows.
- Wear a dress or skirt with some movement, some ease. Leave the trousers behind and you’re immediately festive enough. It’s tough, Sturdy Gals feel more comfortable in pants, but have courage.
- Show the parts of your body that give you joy. Often it’s our biceps. All that gardening and carrying of other people’s boxes. But if it’s your legs, choose a short smock dress and wear heels just a half an inch higher. And if it’s your waist? Go you.
- Choose one item with shine, not more. A satin skirt, or a sequin t-shirt. Shine means you’re trying.
- Pay attention to your outerwear. This is not the time for wraps, you will be fidgeting with yours all night and those things just will NOT stay put on chairs as they are told to. Sturdy Gals like to match, the rest of you have somewhat more subtlety.
- Mid-heel pumps are comfortable, but elegant, if you find the right shape. Amp up the desire meter with patent or snakeskin. Tell yourself they are sensible. Define sensible very broadly.
- Lots of mascara is OK. It’ll be dark. People will not want to put their glasses on. By the same token, wear red lipstick. This is not an occasion for disappearing mouths. If you just can’t do bright lipstick, find some red lip balm. Apply often.
The final required accessory? A friend. Bring company. Or make a date to meet someone you know upon arrival. Some of us need to survey parties before diving in, others like to wade through the room. Either approach is infinitely better with a pal in hand.
By the way, if you haven’t taken a look at Anne M. Cramer’s site, and you’re a fan of classic, yet slightly subversive clothing, I recommend a visit. Take a look at the rough waistlines on otherwise polished skirts. (Note: Anne doesn’t do clothes any more. But we will find you something that works just as well.)