So, Best-Department-Evah is having a ball this year. They tried to organise one last year, but everyone was a bit 'meh' what with the extended caretaker period and not knowing if we'd have jobs and all.
This year everyone is very keen, and in a moment of uncharacteristically wild girliness I have purchased a ticket. I'll be sitting with a group of people from my grad year (2008). They are quite a bit with the younger-and-thinner than I am, of course, and many of them have been to balls quite recently, I believe.
Last time I went to a ball was in 1989 and it was my final year of high school. My dress was made by my mum, and was a Mariana Hardwick knockoff, burgundy shot silk kind of jobby. Shawl shoulders and long, black gloves. Those of you who were around in the late 1980s will be able to visualise, I am sure. The puffiness in the skirt region was down to stiffened black tulle, and my mum boned the bodice for all she was worth, and I could still breathe so you can see what a genius she was. It didn't really look like this, but it didn't exactly look unlike that either (especially to the untutored, not growing up in the 1980s sort of eye). It was like a slight pretension to good taste version of that.
Now, as I understand it, fashion has moved on a bit in the formal frock stakes, and also I am not seventeen any more. My other experience of formal evening wear was from 'doing my deb' in 1988.* This dress was also spectacular and most foofy with a skirt of five layers of tulle and a stretch satin bodice, so I looked like a cross between a ballet dancer and Madonna on a modest day. This too, I belive, would not be an appropriate option. Although if I wasn't three times wider now than I was then, I might be tempted to give the bodice a red hot go.
Also, I have since forgotten how to dance, although back in the day I could do the Pride of Erin and the tangoette like nobody's business.
So, what does a person of almost-forty wear to a ball? A person no longer has access to genius, dress-making relatives and a person's wardrobe is filled with suits of black and grey.**
On the upside, no pumpkins will be harmed.
*Why yes, we did have a bicentenary theme, thanks for asking. The table decorations were yellow and green and included bunches of helium ballons. Bewdiful.
**How a person became the sort of person to have a wardrobe full of suits of black and grey is another story. Suffice to say, it surprises me every single morning. I used to have a wardrobe (or more accurately a clothes rack and a messy pile on the floor) full of 1960s cocktail dresses and a selection of Useful A-line Skirts - suitable for every occasion. I would like to wear a 1960s cocktail dress to the Ball, but I no longer have Twiggy sized hips, so I set my frocks free for others to find and love.