02 May 2007

I've seen your future, Smith Pointers, and it ain't pretty.

Last night was a night of firsts for me.

I made my first trip to the Ralph Lauren store in Bethesda.

I attended my first non think-tank book launch.

I tried - and promptly abandoned - my first sip of Ketel One lemonade.

I girl-crushed on my first author (Jill Kargman, at right).

And finally, finally, I left a party with my first bag of real swag.

But among all that good, among all the delicious displays of structured crocodile doctor's bags, linen slip dresses and patent leather d'Orsay peeptoes, believe it or not, was an overwhelming, inescapable tragedy.

Shockingly, no, I'm not referring to the bizarre Wet Seal-like collection of full-length sand-blasted denim bustier jumpers ($895), rhinestone-lettered message tees ($195 each) or the dressy metallic brocade culottes ($595). And painful as they were to look at, I'm not even talking about the pair of girls who decided last night was the night to quite literally test the limit of Michael Stars' one-size-fits-all label by stuffing their size 12 frames into his signature clingy knits.

It took my companion R and me two flutes of Veuve each and a half-hour of "No, it's not that, maybe it's..." conversation before finally, flush up against the faux fireplace and adjacent to the 36-inch Sharp Aquos flat-screen lush with images of the most recent Black Label ready-to-wear runway collection, we realized our malcontent was not something to be located, nor was it something to be contained. Frankly, it couldn't have been located or contained. Not easily, anyway, because the tragedy was not only to our left and to our right but it was surrounding the perimeter of every room and in bunches of threes and fours on the staircase; it was at the bar affectionately calling me "darling girrrl" and inquiring as to where I bought my ruffled silk halter; it was in the bathroom invading my personal space and enthusiastically fawning over my short black nails; and it was at the raffle table awkwardly leaning on the closest thing it could find - in this case, me - pulling up the slack on its four-inch lucite-wedged slingbacks while simultaneously cooing at a 5 cocktail octave to anyone who would listen how it "simply uh-DORED" this season's Calypso resort wear.

It was everywhere, just as likely to be in that conversation as this one, just as inclined to try on this article of clothing as that one, and just as likely, from behind, to look as much like a co-ed as a Georgetown University sophomore.

The tragedy, as you might have guessed, was the all too common suburban affliction known as older women desperately - and I mean, desperately - trying to pass themselves off as women 10, 15, even 25 years their junior.

To be fair, I should make clear that the majority of the 35-55 year old women at last night's party certainly had the figures to be pulling off the Lacey Parker blousant mini dress and bejeweled Giuseppi Zanotti t-strap stiletto sandals look. No doubt about it. When I reach their ages, I can only hope to have as toned and lean a frame as their ladies-who-lunch lives have afforded them. In addition to their sick bodies, most of these women - most notably a prominent senator's wife, a well-known pregnant cable news anchor and the pregnant wife of a well-known cable news anchor - were also objectively stunning women. Gorgeous well-rested skin, flawless only-there-to-enhance makeup, shiny movie star hair -- no feature, no accessory, no stitch of cosmetic had been left untended to, uncared for or was included or applied without the premeditation of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.

Except, of course, just about every article of clothing they were wearing.

I couldn't believe the hemlines, the prints, the necklines and the trendy and embarrassingly blatant tips-of-the-hat to Fergie and Lindsay in which these middle-aged women were indulging. If I had put forth the effort, I'm pretty sure I could have counted upwards of two dozen Intermix minidresses in look-at-me colors, three of which were sported Tori-Spelling-style over third-trimester bumps. I'll be the first to say I don't believe in specific, you-can't-wear-this-and-you-can't-wear-that fashion rules. I'll also step up and admit I know firsthand the personal satisfaction to be gained from sharing with the world the fruits of your hard-earned gym labor. But still, still, there is a world of difference between that which a 26 year old with a killer body and that which a 46 year old with a killer body should be wearing.

At any age - 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond - adhering to some semblance of age-appropriate dress needs to be as highly ranked a priority as dressing to fit your frame and dressing for your audience.

Because even with the kindest disposition, the most killer wit, the prettiest face and the most fantastic pair of 60-minutes-on-the-elliptical-six-days-a-week gams, if you're one of these older women intent on bringing Smith Point style to the 'burbs, no one is going to focus on all your good -- they'll be too busy choking back pity.


dc girl said...

You should go to more of these parties! I love your accounts of what took place. Waaaaay more interesting than any of the other similarly aimed DC write-ups, that's for sure.

Pregnancy and mini dresses are not a good cocktail. Even Heidi Klum knew to stick to the long gown with the slit.

Anonymous said...

OMG, this needs to be circulated around every high-end gym in the city. Seriously. Share this with the world!

Noelle said...

Working in Bethesda, I completely agree with the majority of your post. But I have to disagree about your stance on pregnant women in minis - I think (fit) pregnant women are absolutely gorgeous and I have no gripe with them wearing minis, bikinis, etc. Being pregnant is totally different than being out of shape or over weight. It's something to be proud of and show off, in my opinion.

Johanna said...

My problem was more with the fact they were in their mid-to-late 30s (at the youngest) and still wearing minidresses. Pregnant or not, toned or not, in my opinion, the statute of limitations on minidress wearing runs out somewhere around 30 years of age.

bff in chicago said...

I'm with everyone on keeping the minidress in the 20s-only club. Unless you're Jennifer Lopez and part of your stage persona is built around that kind of fashion sense, it looks criminally bad. And DC is NOT Hollywood or Manhattan. It was a book launch, for pete's sake, a *Tuesday* book launch, not a Saturday night club opening.

There are so many other ways to look beautiful, pregnant and not-pregnant, than to wear a three inch skirt.

I'm all for fit pregnant women showing off their wares in a non trashy way as well, but the line between sexy and TMI is so often crossed...

Anonymous said...

So by way of comparison, you were wearing a ruffled silk halter and what else? And your friend R, what was she wearing? Details, please. I can TOTALLY see these girls/women, but what's the alternative?

Johanna said...

Very good point.

In addition to the black silk ruffled halter blouse with keyhole back, I wore a very fitted high-waisted, two-inches-below-the-knee pencil skirt (also black), four-inch black silk stiletto peeptoes with rosette adornments and carried a structured cherry-red clutch.

My friend R is actually a guy, and he was wearing dark wash jeans, a light blue dress shirt, slim navy blazer and Chuck Taylor lowtops.

jacqueline said...

So what do guys wear at one of these swanky things? Dockers? A bow-tie? Are they also like Georgetown guys who "grew up?" Your friend sounds like that. Did he have a baseball cap on backwards? Yuck!

R said...

Re: Tori Spelling, at al
Two words: lucite heels