The Cat Daddy has a Dining Out coming up in a few weeks. I've never been to one, but basically a Dining In/Out is military speak for a formal dinner of some sort for some reason, or maybe none at all. Dining Out is when spouses/significant others are invited; Dining In is when they aren't. And when these guys do a Dining event, it means the mess dress. Which is more or less a tux. Which doesn't quite coordinate with my jeans and Doc Martens--or even my cute little olive drab skirt or navy flowered sleeveless number--so that means time to go dress shopping.
I'm really good at shopping for jeans and tennies; if I need a pair of jeans I can go to any of several favorite stores, where I will likely find something suitable within an afternoon. Dress shopping, on the other hand, takes some mental preparation. It is, like, the apex of the fashion quests.
I started the process several weeks ago. Our nearest mall is a sorry sort of place in Santa Maria, so I popped in to a few places just to look and get a feel for what's new in formal fashionwares. Is that even a word? It is now. I even tried a few dresses on and determined that, while there's an abundance of black dresses wherever you look, the color black (still) really doesn't flatter me. Sadly, this significantly limits my options. Not prohibitively, but enough to notice. So while I didn't find a suitable Dining Out dress, I figured out to an extent the type of dress I'm looking for (probably short; some color other than black), and even determined that I need some sparklies this time around. Which is major progress, given my normally plain tastes.
Really it's a give and take sort of thing though--if I get a dress with some sparklies already on it, I have much less to worry about in the accessory department...in which I am even more impaired than with the clothing.
So for today I was invited on a major shopping expedition to Simi Valley, where they have real malls, with popular stores and everything. I went along with two other mil-wives who also needed to find outfits for the dining out. They, too, have young sons, so all three daddies were fortunate enough to get some quality time with the boyz while the mommies went looking for pretties.
I have determined that the key to successful shopping as a fashion impaired person is to go with one or several people who, at the very least, can provide objective input as a third party. A spectacular sense of color and fit is even better. I was lucky enough to shop with such a person today. I started out looking for something plain and subdued--perhaps a navy or dark brown. After the first round in the dressing room, I started to get a feel for things and branched out into some reds and even silvers. Lo & behold, Mrs. Fashion informed me that I need to be looking for things in "jewel colors," which apparently include emerald greens and hot pinks and varying shades of red. I'm not yet brave enough to do emerald green or hot pink, but I did enjoy the red. I didn't like anything enough to make a purchase, but I got some fantastic ideas and a much better sense of what I'm looking for than two weeks ago, even.
I had a nice success on the side, though. I'm not big into purses and handbags and such, and those I have are buried in a box somewhere, so when I found myself going out today sans kiddo, I started out with a backpack. A very cool backpack which I love, but a backpack all the same. So my secondary goal for the day became finding a purse. When we reached the mall I ditched the backpack and hand-carried my essentials, to remind myself to suck it up and visit the "hosiery & handbags" department while I was there.
My general taste in purses is brown. And practical. My primary criteria are a top zipper (in case I happen to be throwing my purse across a room; I wouldn't want anything to fall out), a shoulder strap (if I can't wear it I'm apt to leave it somewhere--which for me has been proven empirically, by the way), and a few, but not many, extra pockets (easier to put a few things in one main compartment than dig through endless little zippers). I don't carry an inordinate amount of stuff with me, so I was looking for bags on the smaller end of the spectrum. And I'm rough on things like purses, and shoes, and sunglasses, so I don't necessarily like to put a lot of time and money into them (except for running shoes, but that's another story). Macy's was having a shoe and handbag sale--supposedly the best one ever, or something--but I wasn't finding much. My favorites were the Fossil purses, but unfortunately they cost way more than I wanted to spend.
Well, guess what? Out of nowhere Mrs. Fashion said "Skerrib, you need a green purse. Green is actually very versatile." And guess what else? There were some fabulous green (close to the color of wasabi?) purses right there that fit all my criteria exactly. And guess what else?! They were under $30. While this is high on my price scale for purses (this is how little I invest into purses), with the Best Shoe & Handbag Sale Ever it ended up costing me just over $23 with the tax & everything. Not bad for a fantastically-green purse!
So I checked out, walked a few feet away from the register to allow my other shopping buddy to purchase her new blue wallet, took the tissue paper stuffing and silica gel packets out of my new purse (DO NOT EAT), dropped in my wallet, cell phone, and keys, and began using my new purse right then & there.