Even though I well remember my junior high days when I would never, ever consider leaving the house without my Cover Girl compact (lest my forehead be oily), I somehow un-learned the arts of makeup and hair when I started rowing. To my jock friends, spandex and race shirts were the standard uniform, and I was lucky to have my contacts in and my teeth brushed in the 10 minutes between 4:15 a.m. and leaving for practice. Add that to a Catholic school uniform and a generally contrarian attitude and you get HB - to this day a looks minimalist. Observe, KB and me in the rowing glory days.
Ask my Nana and mom, who have tried to take me shopping a few times over the last few years for special occasions - college graduation outfit, job interviewing ensembles - it's no small feat to find clothes that I like and am willing to spend money on. Thus, shopping for some $5,000 strapless dress that looks like everyone else's was not in the cards for me or my budget.
Luckily for me, the women in my family kept their dresses. Un-luckily for me, my mom got married in the 80s when they apparently didn't eat. Even when McKay and me tried on my mom's dress at ages 12 and 15 respectively, we weren't close to fitting. My mom credits her long golf career with her super-human waist, but I wonder if she's just repressing memories from some sort of waist torture chamber akin to that scene in The Princess Bride.
When I tried on my Nana's dress last summer, it was similarly depressing. My mid-section, despite my oft' practiced 8 Minute Abs, was several inches too big for the dress.
So I gave up on my Nana's dress for a few hours, but after a pep talk from Mom decided to ask my Grandma Mary to use her sewing skills to help. Nana agreed to let us do anything we needed to do to the dress to make it fit my apparently gigantic body. Grandma Mary and my aunt B.J. did a lot of work on the dress between my visits to Arizona, creatively re-imagining the style to show a little skin in the small of my back to fix the rather large problem of the dress still being too small for me.
Then out of nowhere, June 2008 came along and we needed to fish or cut bait, as they say. So last week Mom and Dad rushed the dress to a seamstress, who picked up where B.J. and Grandma left off. The seamstress magically found some more material to let the dress out to my waist measurements, and in record time.
Even though the seamstress had my measurements I was really, really stressed that the dress still wouldn't fit. I was doing the twist and a million crunches a day. Dad ever-so-sensitively asked via Skype if I was "not gonna eat" until the wedding to fit into it. That is the grand tradition of modern brides, but I live off of food. Specifically, iced skim chai and potatoes.
Mom overnighted the dress to my office to arrive Tuesday. I asked E to come with me to the bathroom for moral support while I tried it on. I had to just get it over with immediately or else I'd drive myself crazy all day. E agreed she'd root me on if I had to stuff myself in. In fact, we had been recently inspired by an actual show that encourages brides to fit into their dresses rather than having dresses altered to fit them. Ever wonder what feminists think about that and other wedding shows?
But luckily for me, Mom and Dad's seamstress came through and the dress is now slightly too big! Victory is mine! I hustled to make an appointment at a local vintage-specialist cleaner in Chevy Chase, and they are going to do the final alterations and hand-clean the dress. The woman who helped me is getting married the same day in Kensington. I chatted her up and she rushed my order through so it'll be done on Thursday. What luck!
My next mission - an elusive full slip, which I'll surely sell on ebay June 29.
And with the help of my PM Amanda, my costume, hair and makeup Achilles' heel doesn't stand a chance. We're all gonna look awesome.