I have this affinity for lace and any item of clothing that’s white and flowy. Samantha Parkington is the most glamorous of the American Girl dolls and her birthday dress has this somewhat ridiculous, but appropriately Victorian white lacy collar with pink rosebuds. In Clueless, Cher Horowitz wears this sheer white top over her white Calvin Klein dress because her father tells her that her dress looks like underwear. And of course, wedding dresses. I love wedding dresses! It’s commonly said that a bride is always prettiest on her wedding day, so why not dress like a bride on a regular basis?
On the flip side, I don’t always buy the best lace clothing. I see it in stores, and I want it, regardless of how it looks on me. And as a result, sometimes I dress like a doily.
Old Hollywood costume-designer Edith Head once said, “You can have anything in life if you’re dressed for it.” I don’t know if I completely buy into that, but she’s right about one thing; clothes are directly correlated with confidence. If you feel pretty, you act pretty and as result, you are pretty. If you don’t feel pretty, it will never work.
Sophomore year of college, I ordered this top online from Anthropologie. It closely resembled the top of a wedding dress. I ordered it in a caffeine-fueled stupor while I was pulling an all-nighter for a paper for my modernist poetry class. It came in the mail a few days later, just in time for the weekend.
I decided to wear it out on Friday night. I wore it with a pair of skinny jeans and these beige and black Chanel-looking flats.
I ended up at one of the four bars in the small town that I went to college in. I started talking to this guy from one of my classes freshman year. He was substantially cooler than me and I couldn’t believe that he bothered to talk to me, let alone hit on me.
As we were talking, I kept on thinking about how pretty I looked in my lace top. I’d never felt so flirtatious and feminine before in my life.
He didn’t seem to realize that I was some awkward nerdy girl who buys cookie dough just to eat it raw or that I don’t shave my legs some weeks. Or that at the time, I had at least two novels partially written and saved as unwieldy Word documents on my computer and they were both bizarre magical realist takes on teenage angst.
I felt like Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly or Cher Horowitz or some other glamorous perfect woman that I sometimes pretend to be. Only this time I wasn’t pretending. I was glamorous and perfect.
Thanksgiving came the following weekend and I flew home for the break. I couldn’t get over the mesmerizing effect that the top had on people. I decided to wear it to dinner with my parents.
“Where’d you get that top?” my mother asked me.
“Anthropologie,” I said. “Do you like it?”
She crinkled her nose. “Isn’t there something else you could wear?”
This confused me. Things went so well when I wore the top out to the bars at school. My mother is sometimes wrong about things, but she tends to know when clothes don’t look good on people.
When I came back from Thanksgiving, I met up with him again and I asked him right away.
“I have this white lace top,” I said. “Do you like it?”
He looked confused.
“I was wearing it when I met you,” I said.
“Right,” he said. I could tell he didn’t like this topic.
“Do you like it?” I asked.
He looked slightly bewildered. “It’s okay,” he said. “Frilly.”
The bride on her wedding day is the most beautiful she’s ever been, partially because it’s the most beautiful she’s ever felt. My lace top was fussy but without it, I didn’t think I stood a chance with that guy from my class. That top made me feel pretty and feminine and confident.
It’s important to dress for yourself and to wear the clothes that make you feel good about yourself. In the end, he liked me despite the top and not because of it. The top, however, gave me the extra surge of confidence that I needed.