…merbunds. Well, the last blog title of Nits and Shits did so well, how else was I going to top it?
A couple of weeks ago, I was kindly invited to a black tie party – a bit lastminute.com. Those of you who know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I never turn down an invite for a night on the tiles unless:
a) I am already out – and even then I have been known to “double party” on several occasions, driving round dropping off various beverages and food contributions before the events, as it would be too much to carry. Plus, you don’t want to annoy the first party host if you have something different (read better here) for the second party host! I maybe spend too much time worrying about things like this…
b) I am on holiday – again this sometimes hasn’t stopped me. Admittedly it was when I was younger and had a bit more stamina, but we did once drive back from a week in Cornwall, stuck the washing machine on, took the kids to the babysitters and headed off to a fancy dress party.
c) I can’t afford it – but still really want to go. A couple of years ago, I was invited to a friend’s 40th at Pennyhill Park for an overnight stay. It was January, I was broke and I hate spas. What is relaxing about getting naked/semi naked in front of a bunch of strangers and then sitting around in your dressing gown all day? I can do that at home, without paying a couple of hundred quid for it. Plus, you know, Netflix…
Feeling saintly, I turned down the invite, knowing I had saved myself some financial pain and thinking that they were all welcome to sit around in someone else’s dressing gown all day without me. Then I saw the pictures of everyone having a lovely time on Facebook and felt, quite literally, physically sick. Turns out, I am not made to watch other people having fun whilst sitting quietly on the side-lines and so when the trip was repeated the following year, I was there with bells on having smugly asked for money for Christmas to pay for it! Best. Spa. Ever. I am sadly ruined now though as I have been reliably informed that no other spa is quite as amazing. It can be my spa swan song.
d) I can’t justify going out again – to my kids, to my husband and occasionally even to myself. Sometimes, events seem to stack up, one night after another and even though there is nothing else on, every now and then (but really not very often) I have to admit defeat and take a night off. Usually though, something will happen (see point c) for reference here…) that makes me regret not just going for it.
I have since discovered that this particular phenomenon doesn’t just apply to me and it actually has an acronym – FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. This is exactly it – what if it’s loads of fun? What if people are having fun without me? What if I am having no fun at home, whilst everyone in the world is out having fun???!??! Luckily, in my well balanced marriage, my husband has FOGO. Fear Of Going Out. What if it’s shit? What if I have to talk to people I don’t know or like? What if it’s actually better at home, watching shite telly? We complement each other very well - especially when he stays in with the kids so I can go out…
So, on this particular occasion, none of the above applied – hurrah! The problem now was something different and I would probably have been quite glad of a dressing gown in this instance as I was not in possession of a suitably lovely dress. Work Christmas parties have either been non-existent for the last decade, or have consisted of bowling followed by a curry or similar fayre. Not really much call there for a ballgown…
So the hunt was on. I had a week to get my outfit sorted. Firstly, a quick trawl through the wardrobe to see if there was anything that I could get away with. After all, were the Black Tie Police going to arrest me for too small a heel or too high a hemline? No.
I pulled out several dresses as options – some were a bit casual, but I could bling them up a bit…or so I thought. Then I started trying them on. Ah yes. January. My foe. My nemesis month. January is, to use my favourite new swear word, a Cockwomble. Not only am I ALWAYS at least half a stone heavier than I was in December, I am also a further half a stone heavier than I was in Spring of last year. You would have thought that lumping loads of moving boxes around would have burnt some fat, but apparently stress eating had managed to beat that into submission. Plus there was the 2-3 months out of action with some torn ankle ligaments. Hmmmm. Back to the drawing board then.
With only a week to sort my posh frock, I headed online for some inspiration. eBay had a tempting lacy number, which looked like it could offer everything I needed, delivered in time for only £8. That should really have been my first clue. It arrived just a couple of days later and I do have to say that it was excellent value for money and very prompt service. In fairness to them, it was not their fault that I don’t have the body to be able to wear £8 dresses. The kids’ reactions summed it up I think.
I slipped it on, this satiny underdress, covered with a lacy purple top layer. The boy clapped a hand over his mouth and did very well to stifle the laughter. My daughter did even better. She simply looked at me with head cocked to the side, closed one eye and said, “Maybe if you put your sucky-in vest on, Mummy?” No special underwear or even Gok Wan himself could have remedied this particular clothing malfunction. So, onwards and upwards.
Nothing was jumping out at me in my lunch break shopping during the week, so it had to go right down to the wire on a Friday morning trip to the local retail park. Smugly, I packed the kids off to school and drove straight on to said retail park with my sucky-in vest already on. I am on this, I thought. As I pulled up, I realised that I didn’t have my purse. It really was an indication of the morning to come…
I returned, 20 minutes later to enter TK Maxx. Please someone tell me – what is the appeal? Pretty much everyone I know has got something amazing and bargainous from there. I was admiring my doctor’s coat recently (not the white lab coat kind for clarity) and she got it from TK Maxx when she misjudged the coldness of the weather and had to buy an emergency winter warmer. Whenever I go there though, I feel like I’m at a jumble sale which is trying to charge me stupid money for something from a designer I have NEVER HEARD OF! I don’t care that it has 60% off – if it still costs more than a meal out for 2, then I’m not interested.
Maybe they see me coming and go “Quick – Molly’s on her way – get all that shit that nobody else buys out. It will really annoy her.” Disillusioned with the 2 things in the sale for £20 whilst the rest were still hovering at the £100 mark, I headed off to Next. You can always rely on Next to have a few solid choices. Except when it is now a Clearance Next. FFS. 20 minutes later and I had trawled my way through rails and rails of shite, with the sizes advertised on the hangers bearing absolutely no relation to the clothes on them. I had managed to find one dress, that I wasn’t overly convinced about, that was cheapish, but was also dry-clean only. When I asked one of the shop assistants where the changing rooms were and was informed that Next Clearance stores don’t have changing rooms, I could hear the nails being driven into the coffin of my outfit search.
Why, by the way, does it make any difference if it is a clearance site or not? What, do they need more room for the shite clothes that nobody else wanted? Or is it because they know that you will never bring your purchases back in time for a refund once you take them home? I think we all know which of those reasons is the more likely…so I didn’t fall for their trap. Missed sale Next. Just sayin’.
Down to the last chance saloon - Outfit. Not somewhere I like to shop as it has just diluted all of the main shops down to the most basic options. I dread to think how many different pairs of jeans are in that store, not to mention vest tops. Breezing confidently straight past TopShop and Miss Selfridge, I did actually manage to find some things to try on here, plus there was a changing room and a very helpful assistant too! I had 7 things to try on, but they had a max of 6 that you can take in with you.
Another ridiculous retail rule…is it because I am more likely to steal something if I have more than 6 items? Surely if you can count 7 items in, you just have to bring 7 items back out again, no? Is it because they don’t want to print higher than the number 6 onto the plastic hangy things? Or is it because they don’t want to spend more than they have to on the hooks per changing room ratio…I am mystified.
More successful than my previous 2 shops (how could it not have been!) however, I arrived at the till with 3 items! A cardigan (not suitable for a black tie event, but lovely nonetheless), a summery tunic/dress – again, not a contender for the venue in question but it was only a tenner, and finally, FINALLY, a dress that could be considered a winner for the following evening.
I went home, relieved that I could now relax and move on from the obsessive search. That evening, I tried it on with a couple of shoe options, you know, just to make sure. I didn’t like it. Not for £24. I didn’t even have to show the kids.
So, I went in the tunic style dress that I had bought in a charity shop the previous week for a fiver. Loads of mascara, pair of heels, tights, jobs a good un. Had a complete ball – even with my sucky-in vest firmly in tow. Moral of the story? The most important thing is to be out, having fun with people who make you laugh and who don't give a flying fuck where you got your dress from!