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The fashion crisis is worse than I realized

May 13, 2009

I've been pretty haughty lately about what a great dresser I am and how frighteningly horrible everyone else dresses around here. Turns out I was really, really, ridiculously wrong.

It all started last Friday. My current fave author, Jen Lancaster, was in town for a book signing for "Pretty in Plaid". On her Web site she had encouraged us to dress up in 80s garb since her latest book is about how 80s fashion changed her life. (Why didn't I think of that? Genius!) I took the preppy route and wore a pink polo with a plaid sash in my hair that I frizzed out, and I accessorized with big metallic hot pink hoop earrings.

You wanna know how many other people dressed up 80s? Two. And their outfits looked like something I couldn't afford. The rest of the crowd, though peppered with women in dire need of Stacy and Clinton, was generally dressed quite nicely. And they were all generally quite skinny. And generally had nice hair. And leather, designer purses. And Tory Birch shoes. And expensive jewelry. And nails done professionally. And makeup immaculate. And I wanted to hide in a corner and disappear.

I felt a little better when, after waiting two hours to have my book signed and watching gorgeous girl after gorgeous girl walk up to Jen, she seemed pleased to see someone else in preppy 80s (okay, three people dressed up), and I figured the event just attracted all the pretty people because Jen is so fabulous. The handful of people in the entire DC metro area that are well dressed must have congregated in Barnes & Noble that one night, but I was probably still better dressed than the DC population as a whole.

The next evening was Ashmi's birthday dinner. I squeezed into my Michael Kors black satin mini dress (didn't I lose 7 pounds since the last time I wore this thing?!!) and thought I looked pretty good. I was in Michael Kors, after all. How high fashion am I?

We had reservations at Oya for 9 p.m., which I thought was awfully late already. However, this place was so amazing and exclusive that we weren't seated until 10 p.m., and the restaurant was packed even when we left two hours later. So I had a good three hours to observe where all the beautiful people hang out. I wondered why I didn't recognize anyone from the book signing. Could it be possible that there are more of these fashionistas? I thought, stealing glimpses of my reflection in the window whenever possible. I had rushed to throw my hair up, and the dress really didn't look all that great on me anymore. But everyone around me had perfect hair with amazing highlights and the cutest swishy dresses paired with adorable little sandals. And of course they all were petite and tan. I am the palest I've ever been in my life and also (My father would disagree with that statement. He says I am borderline overweight. Thanks for self-esteem boost, Dad-with-unnaturally-high-metabolism.)

A few nights later I was traveling on the Red Line to Dupont for a women's contemporary fiction seminar (formerly known as "chick-lit" -- apparently that genre has gotten too fluffy and now if you want to write such a book it has to be deep, which basically means someone has to die. Hoorah.). I was coming after work, and I had on basic black trousers (with I can eat thank you very much), and a springy green short puffy sleeved button down with a little black vest (had to wear a vest because the buttons kept popping -- I bought the shirt pre-the-donut-crazy-binge days). As we neared the Metro stop, I noticed that the people coming on the train were really good looking. I mean, outstandingly, modelesque good looking. It wasn't just the females -- the males were just as pretty. At one stop the seat beside me became vacant, and I was hoping the yummy Brazilian guy with a touch of face scruff would decide to sit down. He glanced over but maintained his spot standing in the aisle. Instead an older professor type reading a book filled with stick-on tabs sat down beside me. I rolled my eyes, expecting him to look over and wink at me or something, but even he did not seem interested. Then I realized I still had on my tennis shoes (walking around in this city in heels is no longer an option -- as Jen Lancaster has said, Carrie Bradshaw is a liar). Embarrassed, I slyly exchanged the tennies for my pointy black heels.

I thought I'd figured out the problem, but I had been salivating so much over all the European male model types that I had forgotten about the trendy girl competition. And that I was in Dupont, the gayest area of DC. But until I remembered the whole GAY thing (well duh, no wonder Gorgeous Brazilian wasn't all over me), all I could do was compare myself to every other person on that Metro. Once I got to my stop it was even worse. It was a perfect spring evening, and people were everywhere -- walking their dogs, riding their bikes, going for a jog, eating on the sidewalk -- and all looked amazingly stylish and beautiful doing it. I half expected the homeless people to snicker at me and say, "A dollar, please? Or maybe you're too poor for that."

What I don't understand is how all these 20- and 30-something girls can afford all these designer duds. Maybe they are all so skinny because they can't afford food? I don't know. I just know that on the way home I felt very happy getting back in my Yellow Line comfort zone where all the defense industry people must live and where I look cute. Or am I kidding myself? OHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOO.


  1. Its called filenes basement and Burlington Coat Factory.

  2. It's called Unique Thrift store, and Goodwill. :) I love this post! Some of these outfits must cost about $1,000 total. Seriously. You look/dress GREAT M, stylish roomie! (Hey, I'm the one who buys wool mustard yellow suit jackets from Unique, ok? Does that make you feel any better?)