A few weeks ago, my bestie and her husband were in town visiting us, and we decided to have our nanny come by so we could go out for a lovely dinner sans babe. I talked all about what I wanted to wear for the occasion, but I actually ended up wearing this Faithfull the Brand striped dress ($155), since I’d not yet worn it before and when I tried it on, it just felt perfect for the occasion. I paired it with my go-to sandals and some drop earrings and headed out for the night.
As we approached the restaurant (The Bristol), I felt as though someone was staring at me from the restaurant (its French doors were open to the street), but I ignored it, slash relished in it for a second, feeling very much like I.had.it.going.on. When we sat down at our table, I could tell our neighbors were talking about me — hushed voices, eyes glancing over at me awkwardly. I looked over and noticed it was a table of four — parents in their 60s and (I presume) their son and daughter — and the matron was saying something about my dress. I couldn’t tell exactly what until I heard: “Fred, just keep your eyes over HERE while we are eating.” I looked straight at her, and she smirked and said in a voice that was loud enough for me to her: “Oh my gosh, she HEARD me and is looking at me!”
And also, EWWWW.
I blushed majorly, and then spent the rest of the dinner puzzling over what was going on. Was my dress too risque? Yes, it had a low v neck, but I’m fairly flat-chested and there wasn’t much to see. Minimal cleavage. Nothing was showing. And the length of the dress — midi! — and the shirting stripe — so conservative! — seemed to compensate for the neckline. Had I been walking in with a swagger that was offensive to her? Or maybe the Dad had remarked on how nice I looked and it had set his wife off?! I literally had no idea and spent much of dinner fretting about what was going on, wondering what signals I was giving off, and stressed about who else I might be inadvertently upsetting.
When the foursome finally left the restaurant (after treating the server very rudely, I might add), I clued in the rest of the table to what had happened; they’d been oblivious to the entire exchange, as I’d been sitting closest to these neighbors and had had a direct line of sight into their table.
My bestie’s husband snorted and said it was a good thing he hadn’t overheard the exchange because he would have made sure they kept their eyes to themselves. (And he would have — he’s always willing to stand up for what’s right/appropriate/decent, something I deeply respect him for.) Mr. Magpie assured me that I’d done nothing wrong, complimented my dress, and promptly started talking about Fred the rest of the night in a joking way. “Fred. Keep your eyes right here. Thanks, Fred.”
But, you know, it sat weirdly with me. (I certainly haven’t worn that dress since.) It soured my evening because I’ve never in my life felt that I’ve been dressed inappropriately–in fact, my father routinely mentions how nicely dressed I am, with the exception of my distressed jeans, which he “just doesn’t get”), and here I was, feeling GREAT about myself two months post-partem, and suddenly there had been this enormous rain–THUNDERSTORM!–on my parade. And, it pissed me off, too, that I cared. Aren’t we women over 30 supposed to stop giving a damn about what people think of us? Don’t we shed those insecurities along with our “go to drink of a vodka soda” when we turn 30? Argh!
I hadn’t been able to let it go, to be honest, until recently. I was on a run and I caught sight of myself in a storefront window as I jogged by. Despite my best efforts to be kinder to myself when it comes to my own self-image, my first thought was self-critical, to be honest — “AHH, you still have a ways to go to get back to your pre-baby body!” I chided myself. But my second thought was: “GIRL. How good does it feel to be running on this beautiful day, working yourself back into shape, after having to take a fairly long hiatus??” I took a minute to be thankful. Thankful for the sweet nanny watching mini at home, affording me this opportunity to care for myself. Thankful for the 70 degree morning after an interminable winter. Thankful to Katie S. for recommending the running song “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons which was blasting and, actually, felt rather appropriate in that the song is all about “making it” and proving everyone wrong. Thankful for my body for bringing mini into the world and now enabling me to enjoy this 30 minute jog, even though I am still SO SORE and SO SLOW from the mildest of three mile runs. And, yes, thankful for looking good enough to distract Fred from his dinner. Because whether or not it made me feel awkward, the fact remained that I had turned someone’s head.
So, cheers, Fred. As uncomfortable as your stare–and your wife’s subsequent, rather rude commentary–made me feel, you also reminded me that I.still.got.it. And that ain’t bad for a 32-year-old mother-of-an-infant.
On that note. Let’s sail into the weekend with happy thoughts and a healthy dose of confidence — won’t you join me in horrifying the Freds and their wives at your local bars and restaurants? HA.
And, unrelated, my favorite silhouette right now: the asymmetric blouse. Sure to offend only the stodgiest of Freds.
My TIPPY TOP pick is this incredible Ulla Johnson blouse ($320). LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.
If you’re less into the boho vibe and more about preppy/clean/classic: this striped asymmetric find from Banana Republic ($78) is a great steal.
My Other Top Picks for Asymmetric Statement Tops…
P.S. A lot of you were interested in the under-sink medicine cabinet organizer I mentioned in my post on adulting (I also use one to organize my cosmetics) — see here for a rundown of my favorite organization products!