I know it’s a little early for Halloween and (except for Celest) wearing twelve strands of pearls at once is overkill, but Kimberly and I had the great fortune to play dress up recently, channel our innermost Daisy Buchannans, and venture from the West Village to “West Egg” for a fabulous party.
It took some persuading on Kimberly’s part to get me to agree to accompany her to The Society’s flapper-era event at the private club, Norwood. I’m all for supporting our friends, networking for The Dinner Belle (we were promoting our “Green Market Tour” as a synergized event with The Society, a high-end social networking group) and attending Manhattan cocktail parties, but I’d rather attend them in my own clothes and in flats. Oh well, we needed to talk up our tour. ‘20s-era dress was required for “A Daisy Buchanan Affair,” so I decided I’d figure it out. The things I do for The Dinner Belle…
Now, if there’s one thing my girlfriends love, it’s a fancy soiree, though I must admit, I often have to be persuaded to put on heels and any lipstick at all, let alone bright red! And as for accessories…? Oh geez. Let’s just say, my idea of accessorizing is quite minimal. On a daring day, you might find me sporting some sort of handmade, earth tone earrings I bought on the streets of SoHo for $10, a gold locket necklace I’ve owned for the past decade, or a trio of silver bangles I inherited from my grandmother. Growing up, antique jewels and vintage accessories were only worn in plays. Having performed my fair share of women from the olden days, I’ve sported everything from Elizabethan corsets to Eliza Doolittle tea-stained frocks and crooked hats. I can appreciate these items for their history and beauty, but my style’s not vintage and I’d rather keep my own “dressing up” to opening nights and October 31st outings.
What the hell was I going to wear to this thing, I wondered? Luckily enough, it seems ruffles are back in style, so I was able to find a reasonably flapper-esque dress (in comfortable cotton and inexpensive, from Express!) fairly quickly. Kimberly had her entire outfit easily lined up from her existing wardrobe. At first, I thought her dress was a leftover Halloween costume from years back – she assured me she has no fear wearing it all over town, year-round and that it’s 100% authentic and amazing! But the only pearl-anything I own is a delicate, single drop my boyfriend gave me for Christmas last year. It’s beautiful, but not exactly helpful for “more is more” accessorizing. If Amanda was still my roommate, I’m sure I could have borrowed numerous items from her boudoir, (although her accessories were always a little more appropriate when the words “naughty,” “sexy,” or “kitten” were in the invitation title, i.e. “A Naughty, Sexy, Kitten Daisy Buchannen Affair”). Since she and her trunks full of hot pink boas moved 3,000 miles west last year, I had to find a new friend to call upon this time.
Thank GOD for Celest’s indulgent and obsessive accessory collecting! I sent her a panicked email, just days before the event, asking if she possibly had a long strand of pearls I could wear? Ha. Did she ever?! Yes of course. And I was welcome to whatever I wanted to borrow. When I met her the following night for dinner at Otto, she arrived with a large, white hatbox in tow – the entire thing filled with sparkling goodies for me to try on! There were pearls, and more pearls, feather clips, vintage hats, jeweled scarves and even more pearls! I thought for sure she had robbed the costume department of my old theater.
The afternoon of The Affair, I showed up to Kimberly’s apartment decked out. Much to my disappointment (but also a little relief) she told me I really shouldn’t wear everything all at once. It kind of made me look like a little kid who got into her mother’s, or maybe grandmother’s, things. We settled on a nice balance of hat, pearls, earrings, and a fashionable bun. Then, we were off! Walking up 7th avenue on our way to Norwood, we turned heads at every corner and were asked to pose for pictures with random passersby. Kimberly basked in the glory and attention, but I have to say I felt a little silly. When we arrived at the party, however, and I spotted a woman wearing a hat with a brim that could have covered three of my heads, all my insecurities about looking too made-up were put to rest. After taking some pictures and getting our first cocktails at the inside bar, we descended the stairs into a perfectly decorated garden filled with Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby wannabes. It was refreshing and fun, much more than I had imagined, to play dress up on a late summer Sunday. We sipped cucumber cocktails. Kimberly smoked out of a long, old-fashioned cigarette holder. We listened to a timeless jazz band and held court, talking to attractive strangers while dipping fresh strawberries into whipped cream.
As the night came to a close and we’d done our fair share of mingling and networking, we grabbed two cupcakes off the buffet and headed out into the streets of 2008. Dizzy from a few cocktails, I was impressed with myself that I’d survived what I had been sure would be an uncomfortable evening. I’d held my head high and worn those pearls like a pro.
But, as I sat on a bench near 14th St, licking the icing off of my cupcake and talking the night over with Kimberly, I subtly slipped off my excruciating heels and grabbed a trusty pair of flip-flops from my oversized Brooklyn Industries bag. Kim caught me slipping them on out of the corner of her eye and we shared a laugh (more of a roll of the eyes on her part).
Hey, I’m all for dress up, but there’s certainly no need to go home with a blister.