Saturday, December 03, 2005

All dressed up


Back when I was still working in state government, my department had an awards dinner each November. It was a big deal. If you were in management, it was a command performance. You were expected to attend.

The guys just wore a suit. Same as they did everyday to work. In fact most of them just worked late that night and then went straight to whatever hotel had gotten the bid for the dinner that year. When I say "worked late" you understand that means they hung out in a bar shooting the breeze about sports or somethin'. Then their wives would meet them at the dinner.

But for the women it was a trial to figure out what to wear. It was a dressy affair. We mostly wore suits to work, but we had to walk a fine line about dressing up to an evening work function.

You needed to look nice, but you couldn't look sexy. Sexy is not a good look for a woman who hopes to be regarded seriously at work. But the wives could look sexy. They might work, but they worked somewhere else. So the female accountants in my department were in a quandary each year about how to dress, what to wear, etc.

The department wasn't all in one location. I was in the bureau that made policy for the entire department, and the rest of the employees were scattered out in other state departments. They worked for us, but they worked WITH other departments. A budget office is like that. So there were lots of us, but we got together only this one time a year. Well, there was the Christmas party, but that wasn't mandatory.

You guys are always interrupting me. I would naturally go in a straight line when I tell a story. So where was I? Oh. Yeah. Pickin' out a dress.

I don't mind shopping. Especially for me. I went to what passes for a nice store in these parts, and I tried on a bunch of frocks. I finally settled on one that I liked. It wasn't on sale, but I figured, this is for work, so a little bit pricey is okay. I mean, I had a career, right?

This dress was one piece, but looked as if it were three pieces. It had a black skirt, a white blouse, and a red vest with gold embellishment sewn on it. The vest looked like a separate piece that could be removed, but it could NOT be removed. Trust me on that.

I don't know how long ago this was, but it was long enough ago that I was still lookin' pretty good. And I was lookin' pretty good in this dress. So I bought it.

So I go to the big event. I go early enough that I'm there for the cocktail hour and can get the compliments that I deserve on how I look. And I do. Get the compliments. I get a lot of compliments. This is a noticeable dress and I look good in it.

I'm there about 40 minutes, suckin' up the compliments, when in walks my friend Bobbi. She works in a different building and we of course haven't compared notes on dresses. She's wearing my dress. That Bobbi.

Did I mention that it's a noticeable, eye-catching dress? Well, it is. And Bobbi is wearin' it and so am I. We get a lot of ribbing about it. Lots of jokes. Lots of fun for all. 'Cept me and Bobbi are embarrassed. Well, that's life. At least we're friends and all. And I'm at least I'm 40 pounds lighter and the dress looks better on me, so okay. I'll survive.

The big honcho of a state department is the Secretary. The Secretary usually arrives fashionably late for these affairs. In time for dinner, and in time for the awards, but not in time to hobnob with the peons.

The Secretary came in finally, with his younger, lovely wife. I'm sure you've guessed it: She was wearing MY dress. Bobbi's dress. There are three damn identical dresses.

Noticeable dress. The same damn dress. No-way-it-could-be-disguised dress.

Pretty uncomfortable evening after that. I was happy to get home.

31 comments:

mireille said...

I LOVED THIS POST. The horror, the horror! When I worked in PR, I was trapped into enough mandatory functions-where-you-wear-uncomfortable-clothes to really appreciate the part where you'd found the perfect dress ... you looked attractive, but not too attractive ... and damned if two other women didn't show up at the career-building event. Perfect. And the best part was the part where you're 40 lbs. lighter than the other two babes. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! ♥ xoxo

AP3 said...

I love this story. This is why I bought you that refrigerator magnet that says, "I'm sorry, officer... I had to shoot her - we were wearing the same dress!"

Of course, men where virtually identical suits all the time and no one seems to notice.

I notice.

Peter said...

Sad, sad story Lucy, now was the secretary's wife Also 40 pounds heavier?
I take it you tried hard to get that little vest off.

Monique said...

If there is any consolation in this story, it's that YOU looked better in the dress.

dddragon said...

LOL - yeah, I remember this story. still love it.

Fred said...

Unbelievable, TLP. It's like having triplets - the odds are probably the same.

Love the cartoon - it looks just like a store for men's suits.

Minka said...

Just like Hollywoods finest. Imagine Christina and britney coming to an award ceremony wearing the same outfit. Claws would come out!

Bela said...

That's hilarious! So is the cartoon. I have no doubt you looked the best in that dress. :-)

Savtadotty said...

The cartoon is the perfect illustration for this funny story. How did you do that?

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Doug said...

TLP, I love how you tell a story, even when my y-chromosome makes it a little over my head.

Aral, don't you hate it when you go to a party and someone's wearing the same ballcap?

Ivy the Goober said...

Hey, YOU GOT THERE FIRST. They copied YOU :)

sherle said...

As a teen - the girl i hung out with bought MY winter coat - it was even the same color!!!! ...and my mother wondered why I refused to wear mine anymore and got out my OLD one! Gee, I had forgotten that.

Shane said...

funny stuff. i love your blog lead banner.

Sar said...

What a great story, one we all can relate to. And I'm impressed with how perfect an image you found to accompany it. Nicely done.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I totally love this story and can relate to you completely.

You have such gusto, and I admire you in so many ways.

Have you noticed how today, the new dress up outfit seems to be anything with jeans?

schnoodlepooh said...

I hate it when that happens.

Klondike Kate said...

Great post! You hear about such things happening but I always thought they were urban myths! Talk about your sticky situation!

We had a store where I used to live that kept a three ring binder of events. If you told them you bought the dress for XYZ event, they would note in in the book and not sell that dress to others attending the great XYZ event. Pretty nice.

Libby said...

now THIS is hilarious! Kev just asked what the hell are you snortin' about? and i told him, but, being a guy, he didn't get the meaning of it...
BoUnCeS!! LibbY!

AP3 said...

Yes, Doug, I DO hate it when someone shows up with the same ballcap!

Doug said...

Yeah, Aral. I was at a barbecue oncet, wearing my "I'll be sober in the morning but you'll still be ugly" hat and this dude showed up with the same cap. I could of died!

I like the Shiva look on you.

Jamie Dawn said...

I'm sure the Secretary's wife's eyes were shooting daggers at you and Bobbi. I hope you flaunted that dress, as it showed you had the class to buy the same dress as the Big Honcho's woman.
I'm sure it did feel awkward, but you paid a lot for that dress. You deserved your moment of glamour even if it was shared with two other less deserving ladies.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Yikes! Aral, you scared me!

Well, I was very embarrassed wearing that dress that evening. It was a loooonnnnnggggg evening.

About the picture above: I was going to scan the magnet that AP3 (Aral) had given me after this little "problem," but I thought I'd just check google image and see what they had. Sure enough, they had something that was good.

I guess men can't understand how embarrassing this is for a woman. And I don't know how to explain it.

It's a bad, bad, bad thing to happen. And the Secretary's wife DID NOT take it well. Someone had to force her over to say hello to Bobbi and me.

Lucy said...

Now here's a cure for this - next time that happens - liquor .. lots and lots of liquor.

The cartoon --- where do you get these things?

Tom & Icy said...

I get so embarrassed when I see another dog with the same coat as me! Woof!

kenju said...

Funny story, TLP. I have never had that happen, although I think I would tend to be flattered if it did. It is great that you were looking good and slimmer then they were, though.

Saur♥Kraut said...

You needed to look nice, but you couldn't look sexy. Sexy is not a good look for a woman who hopes to be regarded seriously at work. But the wives could look sexy. They might work, but they worked somewhere else.

This is so very, very true. If all young business women got this simple concept, they would be so much more succesful than they currently are.

As for the tri-fecta, you have written yet another brilliant story. But I've honestly never understood why people are embarrassed to wear the same thing(?) It just showed you all had the same good taste. ;o)

lime said...

funny story. i am still sure you looked the best in the dress.

Sudiegirl said...

OK...

Last I checked, I was a woman.

I have never had a problem with someone wearing the same dress as me as long as both of us looked good in ours. If the other person wore hers twelve sizes too small, then I might have a problem. But other than that, why not?

Not trying to be snotty...just wanting to know the big deal.

Sudiegirl

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