This month I celebrate Sixty years of life and my love affair with fashion. Since I was a child, I was enthralled with clothes and dressing up. My wardrobe choices were often over-the-top and not always suitable for a girl who played with Barbie, but also rode bikes and climbed trees. In the fourth grade, I was invited to a girl's birthday party and the invitation clearly said casual wear. That didn't stop me from wearing a new coral cotton organza dress with tiny flowers appliquéd around the tiered skirt. When I arrived, my friends offered me clothes to change into for outdoor play, but I stubbornly stayed in the dress. This trend continued as I hit puberty and had my first girl-boy party. I wore a madras bodice mini dress with a denim hip hugger skirt. As I welcomed my classmates (including my future husband) the most popular girl in the class had on the same dress. My mother insisted that I change into a back-up selection to make the girl more comfortable. Nothing doing, I stayed in the dress and kept my distance from Judy Pratt, who looked completely different in our matching outfit.
Through the decades, I have experimented with the latest trends in fashion. The "looks" included the mini, the maxi and the midi, all in the same season. In college, it was the body suit and body paint, which gave a reptile effect on Midwestern dry skin. During the same era, I wore both knickers and hot pants, which I paired with denim lace-up boots. The memories are both humorous and enduring.
Some of my fashion choices have been disastrous, like the pouf skirt that caught in my underwear at a reception. A waiter tried to warn me but I responded that it was supposed to look like that. With a horrified look he said "I don't think so!" Recently, at a Chamber of Commerce dinner I was introduced and as I stood up and waved, a cluster of tickets was exposed under my arm. I believe my husband was more embarrassed than I was as I quickly snapped them free.
Probably the most memorable wardrobe malfunction and biggest fashion night of my life occurred 10 years ago in London, England. My son Andrew is a James Bond fan. He found out about the royal premier of the 007 movie Die Another Day. It was the 20th Bond movie and the 40th anniversary of the movie franchise. My husband Scott, who can be very persistent, procured 3 tickets. The event was held at the Royal Albert Hall with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in attendance, as well as Madonna, James Bond actors and Bond women
For this gala event, I wore a Sue Wong strapless evening gown that had a very full tulle skirt. The bodice was a tight fit, but the night of the premier I was able to zip it up and off we went to our first red carpet event
As we made our way to the balcony of the historic venue, my dress was being stepped on because of its length and layers of fabric. When I sat down the fullness of the skirt engulfed both me and the seat, making for a challenging two hours. The evening was exhilarating: watching the celebrity crowd, the movie, and the Queen, and looking for Princes William and Harry. As the credits rolled, the three of us had to pinch ourselves, realizing that it was indeed the moment of a lifetime.
Departing down the stairs, someone stepped on my dress, and my whole back side was exposed as the zipper came apart. The only thing holding the dress together was a tiny clasp. I tried to cover my back with my velvet wrap, but it wasn't wide enough. We found a side exit and I backed my way into the chill of the November air only to find myself in the middle of the celebrity pick-up area and media grandstands. As panic ensued, my gallant son whipped off his tuxedo jacket and put it over my shoulders in a purely James Bond moment.