So I now own a caftan. It is roomy and delightful and I can’t wait for the weather to get hot so that I can wear it around the house in breezy comfort instead of figuring out what clothes will be the least objectionable to sweat through.

But that’s not why I went shopping. I went shopping for a graduation dress- partly because I wanted something new and partly because I realized too late that all of my other go-to outfits have been in the bag for the dry cleaners for months. So I was motivated. It was not, however, an exercise in self esteem.

This being the end of the semester, there has been a lot of celebratory eating, a lot of long hours of sitting, and not a lot of exercising, all of which have taken their toll. I went in knowing this, but it didn’t help much. On the plus side, I could console myself with the fact that whatever dress I picked out today would probably fit me the same tomorrow.

I started at Macy’s, then Kohl’s, then JC Penny, then Ross. I stuck to the clearance racks- I’m still a graduate student for one more day. I wanted something nice- well structured, flattering, and long enough to cover my knees. And not white. I was clear on that in my mind. What I wasn’t clear on was whether I should go for black.

Black is my color. I wear it a lot because it’s easy and classic and makes a bold statement. An outfit in black is a Full Stop the same way that an outfit in red is an exclamation point. But a part of me ( I blame it on my mother) kept whispering that it’s spring! Find something light and floral- black is so somber. I wanted to take the voice’s advice. I already have several little black dresses- did I really need more? On the other hand, was it possible to have too many little black dresses? On the other hand, what colors did I want if not white or black? On the other hand, would I ever wear it again if it was a color besides black or would I wear it once and then abandon it in my closet? On the other hand this was a chance to break out of my rut…

Etc. You get the idea.

By the time I made it to Ross, I’d given up on the quest for color. The colors that I liked were too short or not flattering. The cuts that I liked were spattered in lurid colors in wild patterns which defeated the whole point of ‘light’, ‘floral’, or even ‘appropriately understated’ for a graduation. I even tried looking for dresses in school colors. No luck. It wasn’t until I gave up and committed to the color black that options began to fall into place. By the time I made it to the checkout, every single thing I was carrying was black.

So I’m a creature of habit. But I did but a caftan, so maybe that’s progress. Maybe someday I’ll have a stylist who can tell me what to wear so that I don’t have to spend a day standing under fluorescent lights agonizing over the cut and color of dresses that don’t flatter me but that I’m considering because they are what is available and what I can afford and that kinda fits. Someday maybe they will coax me into the wild world of navy blue, or- if they’re really good at their job, the forbidden territory of plum.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 12, 2016.

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