Of a Certain Age

Jun 10, 2006 by     6 Comments    Posted under: humour, reflection

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she begins to appreciate the value of properly fitting undergarments. While I am not obese, I am one of the millions who should be religiously practicing girth control.

My son recently got married and in preparation for the event I was faced with the daunting task of finding something suitable to wear. The very thought of trudging through the mall depressed me so I found myself, one day, sitting in my recliner thumbing through the Sears catalogue. Having found a navy A-line dress with organza covering blouse, something I believed was suitable to a mature woman, I ordered it.

A few days later I was notified that the dress was available to be picked up at Duncan’s Furniture Store, which is the nearest Sears Catalogue Depot. The dress looked quite beautiful in it’s long, clear plastic garment bag and I couldn’t wait to try it on.

Rushing home I scurried into my changing room, wiggled out of my clothes, slid the dress over my head and wound myself up in a circle reaching behind to try to pull the zipper up. Then I put the blue sequined blouse on and turned to look in the mirror. As pretty as the dress was, it was not designed for someone with my body shape.

I’m five feet four and one-half inches (yes, that one-half inch DOES matter thank you), I have a short waist and, as I like to call it, a nicely pronounced dorsal representation of my cultural heritage. In this dress the waist fell just about the top of my hips and the hip flare in the skirt fell right at the top of my thighs. This gave an unflattering allusion to jodhpurs. The dress was slightly below ankle-length on me so I grabbed the catalogue to see if I had somehow mis-measured or mis-read the description of the dress. No, my measurements were correct and I did correctly read that the dress was supposed to be mid-calf length.

Looking again in the mirror, and seeing how, even though the dress was the wrong cut, my breasts sagged beneath the bust area, I determined that I looked decidedly matronly. Oh vanity, where have I offended thee?

I had always told myself that I was going to age gracefully and not be like one of those pathetic women who vainly grasp at every fleeting strand of youth. You know what I mean – you’ve seen them at the mall in the food court. Platform-heeled, callused big toe, 50ish women in Daisy dukes and spider-veined legs. Bingo dabber laiden, fake plastic Louis Vuitton bags slung over their shoulders stuffing a Cinnabon between their lipstick-smeared incisors. Who, in an effort to stay young by wearing teen-aged fashion, look more shop-worn than a grease monkey’s torn cover-alls. Gee, aren’t I bitchy? Estrogen supplement anyone?

Nah, that wasn’t gonna happen to me. So as I aged and settled into my menopausal measure, my taste in clothes became less trendy and more conservative. I played it safe. No wild colours, prints or designs. No tight or form-fitting clothes. I chose items which could cover and not draw attention to my multitude of sins (aka cellulite). I stopped wearing make-up. I let my roots show. I wore “comfortable shoes”. My wardrobe had conceded to age and drifted to the (a)isle of the elastic-waist-band.

Maybe it was a mid-life awakening or maybe the influence of the L Word marathons but I always knew that within the facets of my byzantine personality lurked a lipstick lesbian. As I slid that ill-fitting dress over my thighs and scanned the lackluster clothes hanging on the walls around me, my Bette Porter emerged. I might not be as young as or have her figure but a determination began to grow to make me a mini-Bette in comfortable shoes!

With the frumpy frock returned to the catalogue depot and cash in hand, I hit the outlet mall. I remembered reading somewhere that having the right bra made a big difference in how well a gal’s clothes fit. I had long-ago abandoned the discomfort of underwire for the utility of full-figured lycra and had always found bras to be very uncomfortable so the idea of shopping for bras was about as appealing as chewing tin foil. However, my Bette Porter alter whispered, “Get fitted”. I soon found myself wandering into La Senza and before I could say, “Kiss me Carmen”, I was in a fitting room with a sales clerk wrapping a measuring tape around my bust.

Ok girls, listen up: Go get fitted. That is one of the things I wish my mother had told me and if your mom hasn’t mentioned it, go do it. It is SO worthwhile. If you are shy and are not comfortable having someone else measure you, here are the DIY instructions. I learned a lot that day. For example, that women can have more that one bra size.

Anyway, I found a beautiful bra that puts the gals back where they belong which actually makes me look slimmer. My next quest was to find something to control the bit of below-the-belly-button flab I’ve been carrying around for the past twenty-something post-natal years. That’s when I discovered Spanx. I tell ya, Spanx are the next best thing to a pilgramage to Lourdes experience – a bona fide miracle! They’ll take five pounds off of you and give you a Jenny-from-the-block booty faster than you can say, “cotton lined gusset”.

Finally fitted with the proper undergarments which dispensed the adipose in a more flattering manner, I began my search for a suitable wedding outfit. I don’t know who, in the fashion world, penned the rule that the fatter the woman, the taller she be, but that is entirely false. I was finding it impossible to find something to fit that didn’t need to be altered. As I was about to give up, I passed a kiosk and there I found the perfect thing. It was elegant, comfortable and wrinkle-free! With my hair and make-up done, in this outfit, for the first time since my disco-diva days, I felt glamourous!

In all of this, the libra that I am is beginning to find a balance between acknowledging that I am a woman of a certain age and that age has it’s own beauty. I guess I’ve come to accept and honour my inner lipstick lesbian.

Here, Lise and I have just returned home from the ceremony. The guests were due to arrive soon for dinner and we’re having a tequilla shot to “settle our nerves”.

Later, we’re outside having cocktails with our guests.

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6 Comments + Add Comment

  • Glad you listened to those inner voices! You both are lovely in the photos!

    Thank you for posting something…it’s been almost two months of checking, double-checking, rebooting and checking…I know you’re a grown up, but I worry!

    Missed you!


  • You look beautiful in your new dress, but your story makes me glad that I was born male and not female. I don’t know how you guys manage all that fiddly underwear stuff, plus the plethora of styles you have to choose from for a wedding. All a guy has to think about is which tie to wear and if the suit jacket still fits.

    thanks for stopping by and saying hi, paul

  • Oh, what a tale! I can relate on so many levels. Oy vey.

    You look beautiful, of course. I knew you would, even before I scrolled to the photos.

    So nice to see you back!

  • Welcome back, Barb!

    Now that the months of planning have finally come to fruitition, you gals can get back to (hopefully) a somewhat less hectic life! Or can you? ;-)

    You and Lise look tres’ fabu!

    talk soon,

  • A friend of mine introduced me to your blog and I think its fabulous. I love the way you write, I feel like I’m a part of the story. Keep it up…makes me realize that life can only getter better as the numbers go up. You can find me at suemorr1970.blogspot.com

  • You and Lise look fabulous! I got a sneak peek at the posed pictures and you look wonderful there, too.
    I’m glad you’re blogging again–I’ve missed you!