What to wear when you get hit with middle age spread?


Another page from the “things don’t always work out as you planned” book. I recently volunteered at an event, a holiday tour of homes, where helpers were asked to dress in clothing styles from about the 1920s-50s.

This was not going to be a problem for me. I had a whole bunch of dresses I haven’t worn for decades just lollygagging in my “good clothes only” closet. The one dress, I thought, dated back to the 1980s, maybe early 1990s, but it was a classic style that could pass for 1950s. I was all set.

Except for shoes. I needed some new flat dress shoes that I could stand in for hours. And I hate to shop. This is why I didn’t already have the shoes I needed.

So a few days before the event, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I decided to go shoe shopping. After considering a lot of styles, I settled on one utilitarian style I could wear with everything — that way I won’t have to go shoe shopping again for a really long time.

Done. I’m ready to go; it’ll be great.

So just a couple days before the event, I’m sitting at my computer typing an email to an out-of-town friend. I’m telling her about this upcoming event when it hits me.

“Well, gotta go,” I concluded my email. “I just realized I haven’t worn the dress I was planning to wear for at least two decades or more. I need to go try it on.”

It’s now 12:30 a.m., and I drag the dress out. It’s a beautiful two-piece top and skirt. I try on the top. It fits. I tried on the skirt; it’s a little tight. Undeterred, I tucked the top into the skirt and ugh! That’s when I discovered that despite my best well-intended, mediocre efforts, gravity and old age have caught up with me. Can you say middle age spread?

I show this wildly unflattering look to my husband Joe. Big mistake! I could tell from the look on his face he agreed with me that I needed to find a different outfit. I headed back to the closet.

“Don’t hang that back in the closet,” Joe yells. “Put it in a bag to take to the thrift store.”

I get a bag, place my once favorite outfit in it and mentally prepare to send it out into the world for a second chance at life.

No problem. I had another cute dress that looked kind of old-fashioned that Joe had gotten for me a long time ago. I think the last time I wore it was to a wedding in the year 2000.

Presto change, oh, this doesn’t fit how I remember it. Into the donation bag it went.

It’s now 1 a.m. I’m on a roll. There’s another cute two-piece top and skirt outfit that even I am not delusional enough to think is still remotely in style. I don’t bother trying it on; into the donation bag it goes.

But here’s another top and skirt outfit I always liked. I think I do recall wearing this to an event in 1993. Surely, I could still wear the skirt. It is so cute. I grabbed that outfit out of the closet for a better look.

Ugh! The top has shoulder pads in it. In fact, all the outfits I’ve cleaned out so far have shoulder pads in them. When were shoulder pads last the height of fashion? Ding, ding, ding. You got it — the 1980s.

I’m thinking maybe I should just keep the skirt as I hem haw around, hating to totally dispose of another outfit I loved. Then I remembered the last time I wore it. The hem had come loose in one spot, and being the sewing-impaired individual I am, I just used some Scotch tape for a quick repair. I was sure the tape was still there; I didn’t even check. Into the donation bag it went.

Now it’s nearing 1:30 a.m., but I have got to keep going while I have the momentum. I toss an old sweater I never really liked and another I can just tell by looking is going to accentuate the spread.

When the dust settled just after 2 a.m., I had removed about 30 pieces of clothing from the closet and had a grand total of 12 pieces left. There’s probably at least three of the 12 that will make it into a donation bag in the future. I just got tired of trying things on, including that summer dress I bought in 2018. See, I do have a “new” dress.

The day of the event, I just dressed in one of my few remaining good outfits and a sparkly sweater. When I got to the incredible, wonderfully decorated home I was volunteering at, my stylish co-workers were not wearing period clothing but did sport vintage hats and purses. So cute! Now I know what I need for next year, and it will be fun to shop for because my hat size hasn’t changed.

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