I hate shopping. I do. I never find anything I’m looking for when I’m looking. I find it when I’m not. And when I have no occasion for it.
Presently I have an occasion for which I need a frock: The GRAMMY Awards. If you’ve missed the endless memos, my book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, received a nomination for Best Spoken Word Album. I’m still pinching myself.
What to wear? Well, I’m encumbered in clothing with a lot of material. I don’t like puffy. I’m not a princess (any more). I’m into simple lines. I have to feel like I’m the star, not the dress. My friend Brian suggested sequins. He said “Go all out!” Duly noted but I’ve been strangely mindful lately of an affinity I’ve developed for velvet.
When Layla was home for the holidays she was all about joining me in pursuit of an ensemble. First stop—Rent the Runway where you can “borrow” five thousand dollar couture for a hundred bucks as long as you return it in 24 hours. Layla did it for Prom in H.S. Cool! We set up an appointment for some undivided attention with a Rent the Runway shopgirl. Hopefully, I’d walk out with a spectacular dress. Easy peasy.
Now, one of the perks of being older is that when you enter a store you can basically scan the inventory and know exactly what will look good on you (and what won’t) before you’ve tried it on—all from the color, the neckline, the shape of the garment. That said, I let the knowledgeable shopgirl do her thing. Keep an open mind I told myself! But not one dress in her selection fit. Wahh.
I sensed a retail panic attack coming on…This could take forever. Ten outings. I don’t have the patience. I need a nap. I should have had a bigger breakfast. Truth is, magical dresses are simply not as easy to find as they were when I was 25. My body is more complicated.
Layla calmed me down. (Funny how our roles have reversed.) She pointed out that Nordstrom was right around the corner. Surely we’d find something there. Ok, I said. Lead the way. I think she literally took my hand.
And there…not ten steps into formal wear…it found me. It was Black Long Soft Classy and VELVET! And It would make a RockAndRoll statement with the right accouterments. All it had to do was FIT!
Layla helped me slink into it, arrange my personal stuff and zip it. We both looked in the mirror and said…wow.
Even without makeup, heels, or a cleavage enhancing bra, we knew. Kind of like… if you can play a song acoustically and it still sounds special you know you’ve got something. Same with a dress.
Plus, it will travel well. Velvet doesn’t crease.
“Here’s my plastic. Can we go now?”
Now so fast, she reminded. Accessories!
The Shoes: My black suede stilettos would look awesome but I can only wear them if I plan on standing still all night. Not an option. Those Sam Edelman taupe 3.5 inchers should do the trick. Layla says taupe is what “they’re” wearing with everything. Besides, she assures me, black shoes with a black dress is too witchy. Thank you, my girl. Taupe it is.
The Bra: What bra? You can’t wear one with a tie up open back. But those stick-on lift-me-up thingamabobs —the best thing since the gel manicure—will work…as long as they’re under a form-fitting garment. (Once I “wore” them with a flowy sundress and, unbeknownst to me, the left thingamabob had fallen off mid-afternoon—an embarrassing discovery to say the least, at the end of the day.)
The Lips: Strong red. Or as Layla says “a strong red lip.” (Tell me daughter, what do I do with the other one?)
The Butt: Spanx. Already have ‘em.
The Jacket: The GRAMMYs are in NY this year. It could be snowing. Do I really want to be wearing a parka when I sneak onto the red carpet? Any suggestions? (And hurry up!)
The Purse: I simply can not carry a tiny bag. I have too much stuff: my strong red lip, my cell, hand sanitizer, glasses, mints, my vial of every fix for any random emergency that could transpire (Advil, Zicam, Valtrax, Vitamin C), fold up ballet flats (for when I inevitably realize that even the 3.5 inchers are going be excruciating at some point), and most important…Kleenex (for when I don’t win), OR—COME ON, SHELLY, FOR WHEN I DO!!
Either way, I’m thrilled to represent the working class songwriter—the unsung heroes of the music business. I’m honored and grateful that enough of my colleagues cast their vote my way and I’m in this position at all. In such amazing company.
As for my ensemble, after all the fuss, I plan on checking myself in the mirror one last time, turning around and going to the party. At some point you have to forget about frizz, feet and flurries and just CELEBRATE!
I’ll post pics.
I feel good about my dress.
Man, I love my daughter.
PS: For my friends and family who will be watching for me on the GRAMMY Awards (Sunday, Jan 28th), I wanted to let you know that in all likelihood, my category, "Spoken Word," will be presented at the Pre-Grammy Premier Ceremony which can be streamed live on GRAMMY.com starting 3:00 p.m. ET.