A funny thing happened to a friend of mine on her way down the aisle at her wedding.
“Didn’t she know that you never wear white to a wedding?” I said, aghast, when the story was told, years ago.
Back in the day, female wedding guests didn’t wear black, either, but that’s exactly what I put on last weekend for a ceremony at one of the city’s fanciest hotels. It had been a long time since I’d gotten really dressed up for a big event; sure, my husband and I frequently socialize, but these days invitations are for more casual affairs.
I pondered for a while about proper attire for this occasion, deciding that perhaps pants weren’t appropriate and looking over my only outfits with skirts: an old black dress with an out-of-date longer look, a dressy enough printed skirt but without a dressy enough top, and a silk skirt with matching top. This latter ensemble I couldn’t have hoped to hook around my waist.
Even visiting our biggest local mall didn’t help, even though I was tempted by a too-expensive hot red lace jacket that would have gone well with the printed skirt. I settled on wearing the black dress and topping it with a silvery gray jacket and a colorful necklace.
I dug out a seldom-worn pair of pretty black heels, and decided not to put myself through the torture of panty hose, opting instead for sheer black knee-highs that I knew would be fine under the long skirt. (Wrong. By the time we arrived at the hotel, the cellulite on one leg was rubbing against the cellulite on the other, and I had the added annoyance of spotting other older female guests sauntering comfortably along in special occasion pants suits.)
It had been a long time since we’d been to a big wedding. Most of our friends’ and relatives’ children have already married, and the grandchildren have yet to take that step. Pants and black outfits there were aplenty here (though no white), and the friend we sat next to told me that when she goes anywhere, it’s a given she will be wearing trousers. In fact, the cute little grandmother of the bride came down the aisle in them and said later that, like me, she never puts on a skirt these days.
Whatever had made me think that anybody would care what I wore to the wedding? In my effort to be properly dressed and a preoccupation with obsolete dress codes, I’d forgotten how oblivious everybody else is to exactly what you are wearing. Certainly, the twenty-something girls in their shiny short sheaths and their impeccably clad escorts could not have cared less.
The next morning, my husband — who, like the other male guests, had navigated the scene comfortably as usual in his navy blue suit, white shirt and striped tie, and loafers — said jestingly, “A little tipsy last night, weren’t you, Babe? You could hardly walk.”
“That certainly wasn’t the champagne,” I told him grumpily. “It was my shoes. Were you not aware that I had on heels?”
Like I said, nobody really notices what you wear. Unless it’s an appalled bride staring at her own wedding dress.
Bettye Anding is a former editor of The Times Picayune Living section, for which she wrote Silver Threads until her retirement. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.