Sunday, May 15, 2005

In the dressing room

Although you wouldn't know that summer is approaching from this miserable weather - it is mid-May and I am wearing a wool sweater- I decided to start the Great Bathing Suit Search yesterday. Actually, that's a lie - I started it a few weeks ago, when I saw a bikini in a catalog that I thought might actually be flattering. Boy was I wrong.

For the last several years, I've worn my trusty tankini. It's a solid ocean blue, and there's nothing fancy about it. But it fits well, is pretty comfortable and won't frighten anyone. I keep meaning to replace it - or at least get it a companion, so that when it hits the dust I'll have a backup - but in the last few years I just couldn't summon up the energy to try on 87 bathing suits before finding one that's marginally acceptable.

Thus my catalog order. I tried the same, mostly dowdy, catalog from which I'd gotten the tankini, to no avail. The suit was pink with what looked like black trim online, and it had the advantage of a regular bikini bottom, plus a little coverup skirt. But when it arrived, the trim was dark blue, the pink was really pink and the fit... was not great. (Darren loved it, but then again I think he was just happy to see my skin after this insanely long winter.)

So off I went yesterday to the dreaded mall area. I started at Target, from whence I needed contact lens solution. I foolishly decided to try a few suits there, reasoning that if I only spent $30, so what if it fell apart by the end of the summer? However, el cheapo suits are not particularly flattering to my 32-year-old, relatively fit (but still with a little poochy belly) body. (I did pick up a very cute button-down shirt, turquoise with 3/4-length sleeves, though.)

Then it was on to Macy's, where in a fit of extreme sadism they put the bathing suits next to the prom dresses. Because standing in those dreadful mirrors next to 16-year-old girls is exactly what I needed... To make a long story short, though, I ended up with a very nice tankini - sort of a plum color with a pink halter tie. For which I spent eighty dollars. I got sucked into shopping brain yesterday and didn't really think about the fact that every suit I tried on was over $70. Oh well. I tried it on again today, and I am pretty pleased with it. And even though it shows less skin than the failed bikini, Darren was surprised to agree that it does look better.

The best part of the whole experience, though, was eavesdropping on the prom girls. Some of them came with friends, others brought mom or grandma. One girl wailed about the fact that the dress looked so lovely on the hanger and so lousy on her body. Every woman in the place commiserated with her. I've been doing some research for a potential freelance story about websites that offer custom-designed clothes for your actual body - rather than some guy's vision of what shape a size eight woman is - and am convinced that's the way to go. Now if only I could get those What Not to Wear folks to come along and tell me what styles to get....