We’ve been invited to the San Francisco Symphony Gala. While we love the Symphony and have been attending for over twenty years, the idea of a gala means only one thing: the need to shop. And if you know me, you know how I feel about clothes shopping. I do it once a year whether I need to or not. . .and mostly at REI.
No, when forced to go shopping other than my annual two hour foray, I always quote Thoreau: “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
So now I need to find a dress that will work among what Tom Wolfe used to call “The Social X-Rays”, the women who are aerobicized, Botoxed and coutured into a permanent holding pattern. I need to buy the kind of dress, which, if it is truly going to be the right kind of dress, is the kind you buy, don’t ask the price, wear it once, then give it to the maid because you couldn’t possibly be seen at another gala in that same old rag.
So I set off for Bloomingdales to see what I could find in the “Designer Department”. My goal was to find a cocktail length dress, because I did hold out some hope that I would wear it again. In fact, I was hoping that this would be the first and last time I would have to buy a dress for a gala and I could wear it to all two or three other galas I’m likely to attend in the rest of my lifetime.
As you might expect in the Designer Department, only Size Fours and under are on display. I gamely asked the sales attendant if they had larger sizes and would they admit it if they did. She wrinkled her nose and said, “Yes, we keep those in the back.” Hmmmm. If it’s so shameful to be over Size Four, I would wonder that any possible gala attendee would have the gall to show up at one, even if she did find one of the “too disgusting for display” larger sizes. As the sales attendant loaded me up with to-be-unnamed larger sizes, I spotted a dress that had obviously been put back on display by mistake. Because it was my size and it was even a Petite (which veteran shoppers will know doesn’t mean “for skinny people”; it means “for short people.”) I didn’t much care about the dress, but I wanted to try it on for the size to confirm that I really was that size and this wasn’t one of those stores that tries to make its customers feel good by putting a Size Eight label on a Size Fourteen dress.
Turns out all the dresses I’d picked looked better on the hangers than they did on me. Except the one I’d grabbed. It was so so on the hanger but developed a level of Fabulousity when it was on me. Or maybe it gave me Fabulousity. In any case, it looked great. It was comfortable. And it didn’t seem as if it was going to require huge amounts of spandex. That means I might even be able to eat at the Gala Dinner that preceded the Gala Concert. And even have Gala Cocktails that bracketed either end of the evening. Sweet!
When I went to have the dress rung up, the sales attendant informed me helpfully: “That’s a Tadashi. He designs for very interesting people.” From the way she said “interesting”, I knew she didn’t mean Cameron Diaz or Keira Knightly. She meant someone who was perhaps close to normal size.
“So which interesting person is he designing for?”
“Well, Queen Latifah, for one.”
Queen Latifah!!! Incredible! If I have a style icon and an attitude icon, it’s got to be her. She’s big, she knows she’s beautiful, she’s got attitude and when she starts to lose weight, she talks about cholesterol and health, not couture. Queen Latifah! Yes!
This dress is going to give me a whole new way to approach this gala. I’ll be arming myself with Latifah ‘Tude and elbowing Mrs. Getty out of the way to get to the foie gras. (Actually, I can’t imagine Mrs. Getty has eaten much this decade, let alone foie gras, so this should be an easy goal.)
Now I’m more ready than I ever thought I’d be for next week. I just wish I could find one of those turbans Latifah used to wear. Now that would be an accessory that would get me on the social pages of the Chronicle.
Added Extra: Rush to iTunes and get “The Dana Owens Album” and “Travelin’ Light”. Hear the Queen belt out standards and prove herself a worthy successor to Bessie Smith.