Because Less is Always More

Girls, I know y’all hear me when I say we’ve all wanted to look AH-MAZ-ING for an event: a frenemy’s wedding, a holiday party, or your college Girls Gone Wild class reunion. I’m not sure who we think we’re kidding when we show up wearing Rapunzel-worthy hair extensions, and false eye lashes only Bambi himself could pull off better. Our dewy, golden, glowing skin couldn’t perhaps be the result of endless hours of costly tanning, but positively a gift made possible only by divine intervention and superhuman genetics. And by the way, we totally woke up looking like this, too. It’s like dazzling your friends with a two-carat cubic zirconia engagement ring – It sparkles, and it’s pretty, but it’s fake as hell and y’all know it. But we all do it, and we do it shamelessly. Or in my case, shamefully.

Last summer, Dave and I were invited to a gala, a fundraiser for under served children. Clearly, it was a noble cause, and we gladly agreed to attend. Since I’ve been to approximately zero galas in my life, I was fairly certain I was going to do what any rational 36-year-old, former legend-in-her-own-mind would do: try way too freaking hard. Little did I know it would all come crashing down into one epic disaster, with me of course at the epicenter. After all, you know my motto, “Go big or go home!”

Here is my story of hope, tenacity, humiliation, courage, and resurgence. Yes, all of that, and in that order. Stop rolling your eyes, Drama Queen, and keep reading…

Weeks before the gala, I poured over the pages of Seventeen In Style magazine for super cute dresses, pinned numerous hairstyles on Pinterest, and even found a picture of sultry eye makeup in deep purple that would make for perfect doe eyes set against a pale pink lip, and a dewy, rosy cheek (I know, adorable, right?). I splurged on a black fluted sheath dress from Forever 21 Bloomingdales, a pair of four-inch Michael Kors ankle booties, and some sparkly jewelry. Because this was going to be the best night ever, and I was determined to make this look good.

The morning of the gala, I got up early. I woke from that reoccurring nightmare you had about your prom night ending in disaster (oh wait, because my prom night actually did end in disaster, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I could tell it was going to be a hot and humid day solely based on my level of sweaty upper lip, and the fact that Dave’s blankets had already been kicked to the floor. The day was filled with a facial at the spa, a nail appointment, and a last minute run to the store for invisible deodorant. Then it was time to get ready.

I was filled with hope. I imagined that after weeks of preparation – finding the perfect dress, the perfect makeup, the perfect shoes, the perfect jewelry – the final outcome would be nothing short of marvelous. I would be a vision of loveliness enhanced only by my own confidence and idiosyncratic charm. I mean, right?

Silly me. Here’s what happened instead.

The hair. I suppose I should have attempted a run-through prior to the big day. But what could possibly go wrong? I mean, it was just a few hot rollers, bobby pins and a little product that would make for a fun and flirty look. In the end, the left side of my hair was fun (read frizzy and flat), while the right side toppled about my shoulders in an overly flirtatious way. Nailed it! Well, the right side anyway. The portion of hair that was supposed to be a braid that encircled the crown of my head, transforming me into the ultimate princess, had to be undone, and brushed out. Fantastic. A word to the wise – this hairstyle only looks good on Pinterest. It’s impossible to execute, and if Pinterest tells you different, they are lying to you.

The makeup. Have you ever gone all “MAC counter” on your eyes, and the result is like a giant mess of eye shadow all over your face? And when you try to wipe it off, the problem actually gets  worse because you actually rubbed it into your skin creating a permanent makeup shadow effect? Right. So, that totally happened to me. Awwww, but my lips. My lips were to die for.

The dress. It was much tighter than I remembered it being in the dressing room. I double checked the tag and realized I had inadvertently purchased a size too small. Lady lumps bulged under my sheath dress where the Spanx were cutting in. I felt like a can of busted biscuits. On a side note, Spanx are pretty much an elastic death case that makes your skin feel like its decomposing. Even my Spanx were all, “Dude, this is a really bad idea!” The heat and humidity were killing me, and soon enough I felt as though I was wearing a wet bathing suit under my dress. Can you see why this would be problematic?

The shoes. Here’s the only thing I have to say about my shoes. As fabulous as they are, how did no one tell me it was the worst idea ever formulated when I decided I was going to wear ankle booties with a dress? Stumpy Leg Syndrome. Done.

I emerged from the bedroom looking like a tulip with frizzy hair and harsh makeup. I was stuffed like a sausage into my dress. I guess you could say I looked like a $5 hooker with classy shoes. It was not good. When I asked Dave, “So… how do I look?” he arched one eyebrow, ever so slightly, like an evil character in a children’s storybook, and was like, “Um…. so…. you look… great.” He lied. In an attempt to save what little confidence I had left, I replied, “Well, since my hair is long, I think I might just leave the back slightly unzipped so it’s not so tight right around here,” gesturing up and down the bust area. I sorta trailed off at the end, because saying it out loud made my already shaky plan sound even shakier.

Since tenacity is a virtue, I decided to forge ahead. I was determined to attend the gala and have a great time. After all, we had paid a lot of cash money to attend and these shoes were worth showing off.

Somewhere between cocktail hour and the first round of appetizers, the wheels completely fell off the truck. I saw an old friend on my second trip to the spanakopita line, and she was like, “Oh hey!” all cool and casual. But then she said this: “You might just want to pop into the ladies room real quick to check things out, Girl.”

I didn’t understand. Now what? Did I happen to stumble into some bad lighting? Had she noticed my half frizzy hair? Or maybe she was concerned about my smudged makeup? I stood in front of the mirror wondering how I got to this point. How on earth could it all just look so bad? At this point, my Spanx were pretty much rolled into a wet rubber band around my waist. One fake eyelash was gone and the other one hung suspiciously from the corner of my left eye. Humiliated, I piled up all of my hair into a bun on the very top of my head and cried. Then I scrubbed my face free of all that nasty makeup – with hand soap. I ditched the Spanx into the waste basket, and took the deepest breath of my life before exiting that bathroom door. On my way to the dance floor, I kicked off my boots and I grabbed two glasses of champagne: one for me, and the other – oh, that was for me, too. When the DJ played, I Will Survive, I sang louder than I ever had, and I danced my behind off. In some ways, I kinda think that song was for me that night. And you know what? It was. It turned out to be a super fun night. And I have to say, I looked borderline adorable with a high bun and a red, scrubbed face.

The best part about all of this? A photo of me looking like a hot mess made it to the charity’s newsletter the following month. Awesome. But guys, it’s cool. I totally had fun.

Not So Charming Charlie

The other day, as in yesterday, I decided it was absolutely, 100% necessary to own a pair of mint green earrings. I’m not sure why, but recently I’ve found myself dreaming of all things mint: eye shadow, nail polish, accessories, handbags, shoes, and iPhone cases. So, I went to the mall to see what I could find. Charming Charlie, my new favorite place to recklessly spend $100, seemed to feel right. You know, the one-stop-accessory-super-store where you can buy the same ‘Made in China’ plastic bracelet in fifty shades of grey, purple, and shale? It’s like the Forever 21 of fashion jewelry, except unlike Forever 21, one size fits all.

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(Photo credit: Google Images)

I breezed through the store’s fancy stone, granite, and glass entrance with the grace of a gazelle. There was an undeniable excitement pulsing through my veins. The idea of countless color coded accessories at dirt cheap prices nearly brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to my skin. I could only imagine the possibilities in my near future.

I was just shy of the rose gold section when I was approached by a sales guy; a super adorable hipster who must have been all of nineteen. He was, without a doubt, way too cool to be working here. “Hi Ma’am! Welcome to Charming Charlie. Today everything is BOGO. Do you need a basket?” MA’AM?!?! Who was he calling ma’am? He’d clearly mistaken me for the older, way less cool version of my current self. I looked over my shoulder to imply he couldn’t possibly have been talking to me. “Are you looking for something special today? Perhaps a gift for your teenage daughter or niece?” Suddenly, I became self-conscious. The self-doubt, insecurity, and loathing was starting to set in. “Yes, a gift,” I lied. “Um… I’m looking for maybe something mint… earrings, maybe…or…um…,” I trailed off. “Ah yes. Mint. It’s what all the young ones are wearing these days. For you, I’d recommend either black or navy. Those colors are very age-versatile.” I choked in shock. I took a sideways glance in the display’s vanity mirror just to make sure I wasn’t like, a hundred. Who the heck did this hipster think he was in his adorable ensemble of nerd-chic, black rimmed glasses, fitted T, trendy striped cardigan, expensive skinny jeans, and index finger Tungsten ring? He was like the mean, male version of Zooey Deschanel, but less cute, and yet for some reason, it mattered what he thought. I wanted to say something devastatingly witty, something that would cut like a knife. But all my vintage brain could rally was, “Okay.”

I decided to push on, and selected several earrings, necklaces, and those stretchy bracelet thingies that look like plastic, but aren’t. I also picked out a few clothing items to check out in the dressing room, a questionable decision at best. As I tugged on the first dress over my head, I heard a slight rip, and stopped. I soon realized that not only was this dress a few sizes too small, I couldn’t even get it over my rib cage. I began to sweat, arms raised above my head. Oh boy, I knew this would not end well. Next, I tried on this super cute, mini polka-dotted bib tank. The verdict? I looked 8 months pregnant. Great. Last, I tried on a light pink, cami jersey dress with a low slung waist. After I yanked it on, I realized that I didn’t even have a waist to sling. For my own self-preservation, I convinced myself that these things only looked good on hangers and 12-year-old, little girl bodies. The hipster sales guy shouted through the door, “Do you need different sizes?” “They’re perfect!” I yelled back, fighting tears.

Next up was the jewelry. What could possibly go wrong? I pulled a tangled mess of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from the mesh shopper bag. The mint earrings were no longer a pair; a single pathetic, pale green bow, hung from the backboard packaging. I looked all around. “Where is it?” I said too loudly for the audience of exactly no one. I flung open the door to the dressing room, and dashed to the cash register, my arms loaded with ill-fitting pretty things. “Ring me up,” I insisted. “It’s all perfect. Well, except these navy accessories. They’re hideous.” My hipster friend was all, “One of these is missing a… !” But before he could even finish his sentence, “RING. ME. UP!” I snapped.

As I signed the credit card receipt, and headed out the door, I calculated exactly how long it would take me to drive across town to the other Charming Charlie to return all this junk.

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(Photo credit: Google Images)