AND so Day Two of my Keeping Up With The Selfridges challenge dawned bright and early (very bloody early) with a wake-up call from The Beast.
Ah yes, you see the reason I was able to start this challenge yesterday and spend hours primping in the bathroom was because yesterday Seán was with his grandparents, so I had the time.
Today, not so much. Luckily I had done the ground work on Monday so only needed to shower and stick on a dress, before lashing on some make-up today, which I managed in 45 minutes while the baby napped. It wasn’t as enjoyable as yesterday though as I had one ear out for the baby the whole time, but I was determined not to fall at the first hurdle.
I also used a tip from a pal when dealing with my tights (The Devil’s Instruments of Torture) – two pairs of pants! Wear one pair of pants as normal, THEN your tights, then ANOTHER pair of pants over that. Voila! Tights stay up all day, no more yanking them back up from around your ankles. Comfort, thy name is the double pants trick.
Today, I even managed to get out of the house for a walk with Seán so got to show off my finery. Nobody actually noticed or said anything (the bastards) but still, it was nice to be out of the house.
Two days down, five more to go. Are you Keeping Up With The Selfridges? Share the glam on Twitter (@beatingblog) or #keepingupwiththeselfridges
IT’S 3pm on a dreary Monday afternoon and I’m sitting at my kitchen table in a dress, heels and full make-up.
I’m not going anywhere. I don’t have to go to work to impress a client. I don’t have a date. I’m not even going to my doctor, a visit I usually clean myself up for in case she decides to have a poke around my unmentionables.
I’m just dressed up for the sake of it. Just because I can.
It all started last Sunday night when I was watching Mr Selfridge on UTV, a show set in the 1920s, about a department store in London. I noticed all the women – and indeed the men – looked so smart and so glam and so dressed up all the time. The perfectly coiffed hair, the porcelain skin, the vibrant red lip. Gorgeous. Thing is though, they weren’t even particularly dressed up, that was just the fashion of the time, to dress smartly, to ‘do’ your hair, no matter what you were doing or where you were going. I looked down at my tatty pjs and sighed. I doubt they’d let me in the door of Selfridges looking like this.
I’ve recently got myself into a bit of a rut of wearing the same comfortable things every day and not bothering with make up bar a smear of BB Cream. The dresses and skirts and smart tops are in my wardrobe, the make-up is on my dresser but I’ve let it slide. So this week I’m doing something about it.
I’ve challenged myself to dress up every day this week. For one week I’ll act like I’m a character in Mr Selfridge and do myself up like a dog’s dinner. I’ll do my hair. Wear a dress and heels or boots. Do my nails and wear proper make-up, take the time to blend eyeshadow. The works. Just for the hell of it, just to feel a bit glam. Nobody’s asked me to do this, nobody’s made me feel bad about myself, my husband hasn’t passed any negative comments about my appearance, nor have my friends. This is just about taking the time each day for me. Just for me, for the sake of it.
I started this morning in the shower washing and deep conditioning my hair, scrubbing my face with a wash, then applying body lotion. I painted my nails, straightened my hair and wiggled into The Devils Instruments of Torture (tights) and a dress. I then lashed on moisturiser, foundation, concealer, powder, blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and lipgloss. It took feckin’ AGES and in truth I was wrecked afterwards but I looked alright. I actually quite enjoyed it.
It lashed rain all day so I didn’t leave the house, just tottered around doing the washing up and making beds as usual but that didn’t matter, I still felt good.
I’m on track to continue in the same vein for the rest of the week and have posted on Facebook and Twitter about my challenge, inviting friends to take part too. A pal came up with the hashtag #keepingupwiththeselfridges so if you want to take part, post a pic of your efforts on Twitter with this hashtag and share the glam.
Just a word to the wise though – if you’re in a relationship tell you’re partner that you’re doing this challenge, just in case – like mine – they come home, take one look at you and immediately decide that you’re having an affair. *taps side of nose*
“IS it the same as you remembered?” the kindly dress shop lady asked me, ushering me into the changing room where my wedding dress hung in the corner.
I gulped and risked a glance.
Yup, that was it alright.
Only, I was sure it was bigger than that.
In my dreams it was a big tent like dress.
Sure it was boned and corseted, no need to diet, it’s a massive dress, it’ll definitely fit.
But there it was on the hanger, glowing in the early afternoon sunlight.
With seams, and buttons and fasteners, that suddenly looked awfully tight.
I stripped down to my M&S sucky-in knickers and strapless bra, both crackling with newness, and held my breath as the dress was slipped over my head.
The kindly shop lady spun me around to the mirror and briskly started lacing me up, ignoring the fact that I had my eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“You can look now,” she said with a smile in her voice and, I’m sure, a mental roll of her eyes.
The bloody thing fit.
I let my breath out in a rush and couldn’t stop a huge grin creeping slowly across my face.
The Dress was every bit as beautiful as I remembered. The material even more luxurious and soft, the fit even more perfect.
I felt like Jessica Rabbit, although I’m easily ten sizes bigger than her and two foot shorter. But I went in and out at the right places.
I snapped suddenly to attention feeling a pair of hands moving expertly over my bosom.
“This won’t do at all,” the kindly shop lady said, her mouth full of pins.
“Look at this,” she said “it’s far too big at the bust. It needs to be taken in a good two inches on either side and under the arms here too.”
“IT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN IN! TAKEN BLOODY IN!” I screamed over the changing room curtain to my sister and mother sitting waiting outside.
“Jaysus,” the kindly shop lady said, taking a step back and holding her ears in agony “give me a bit of warning next time, will ya?”
Bosom pinned into submission, to be properly altered later, I swept out of the changing room to gasps of admiration from my family.
“Amn’t I gorgeous,” I beamed at them, admiring myself in the mirror, turning slowly this way and that, basking in my own beauty. To hell with modesty, I’m a BRIDE now.
I marched up and down the shop, pausing now and again to look at myself in any reflective surface, grinning like a loon.
Just when I thought I was about to burst with happiness, the kindly shop lady tilted her head to one side and zeroed in on a seam at my hip.
I felt the day darken.
“That seam there,” she started slowly, approaching me like one would approach a mad dog “that seam there at the hip might sit the tiniest bit better if I just…let…it…out.”
She said the last three words gently, pleading with me not to lose the head, walking towards me with her hand held out placatingly.
“Let it out?” I gulped feeling my earlier bubble burst.
“Just a tiny bit, the tiniest bit,” she assured me, legging it over with her measuring tape while the going was good. “Lookit, just a quarter of an inch, that’s all. It’ll sit better, I promise.”
I breathed in through my nose trying to see the positive. IN at the bust but OUT at the hip. I guess you win some, you lose some, eh? And at least I can say it’s a custom-made dress, made especially for my measurements. My big hipped measurements.
After twirling around some more in the dress, and admiring myself about 800 more times, I reluctantly trailed back to the changing room to take it off so the alterations could be done.
Before I took it off for good, the kindly shop lady showed my sister how to lace it up at the back properly, so I’d get the same Jessica Rabbit shape on the Big Day.
“Do you think you’ll be able to do it ok,” I asked my sister fearfully as she paid close attention.
Her eyes met mine in the mirror.
“Don’t worry,” she said, patting my shoulder “I’ll put my back into it.”
SATURDAY saw another foray into the dizzying world of wedding dress shopping but this time Best Friend and I took a road trip to the wilds of Kildare in search of a bridal shop there.
And the wilds of Kildare it was. Ruben Bridal is in Calverstown, officially the world’s smallest village featuring a single pub, a single shop (called ‘Newsagents’) a church and the bridal shop.
The Tom Tom lady told us that after 300 metres we had reached our destination but naturally we didn’t believe her.
“This couldn’t be it,” I scoffed “sure there’s just this pub and all these houses and a sign here. What does that sign say?”
You are now leaving Calverstown.
A quick u-turn at the bottom of someone’s driveway later and we were parked in front of the pub looking at each other thinking that obviously we were indeed in Calverstown but where was the bloody shop?
Behind the pub apparently. Where it had been all along. God bless my good-enough-even-without-my-glasses eyesight.
Up the stairs we climbed, emerging into a beautifully decorated sunlit flooded room featuring two huge mirrors and racks of dresses and were greeted by two ladies.
“Pick a couple there to get started,” they encouraged stepping hastily back as we nearly knocked them over in our rush to get to the gowns.
Ooooh we’ll try this one and this one…and OH this one!
Dress Number One: V-neck, a-line skirt, huge underskirts, think Cinderella. Beautiful on the hanger. On me? Not so much. Best Friend gave me her patented ‘I’m being polite cos we’re in company, but get that RAG off you’ look. Next!
Dress Number Two: V-neck, satin with an incredible lacy overlay, studded with sparkling crystals and delicate silver thread. A corset gave a cinched in waist and it fit almost perfectly. Oh my. I could see myself in this. Best Friend approved. A definite maybe.
Dress Number Three: Strapless, diamond and bead encrusted bodice, netting and taffeta skirt scattered with crystals. Not something I would have thought would look good but I gave it a bash in the name of research. A corset again gave a waist and a shape and it swished becomingly when I moved. The diamonds and beads were already cutting and scratching under my arms though and while it was beautiful I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced. A maybe maybe.
Dress Number Four: Strapless, sweetheart neckline, diamante beading detail at the hip, gathered in a ruching kind of way sweeping across the body, falling into a straight, yet swishy, skirt with a small train. Silky/satin/taffeta material, so light to wear yet heavy enough to give good drape, in a warm ivory colour. I looked in the mirror and fell head over heels in love. It was amazing, my figure was pure hourglass, my skin creamy – the pasty, fat, red-faced girl of a minute ago disappeared and a bride replaced her. Looking at myself, I felt guilty. What about ‘the dress’ from last week, the first one I tried on, the one I also fell in love with? If I’m honest, this new dress blew it right out of the water. Best Friend gasped when she saw it. Good enough for me! It’s in the ‘this could be it’ pile.
Reluctantly I let the assistant shoehorn me out of the dress and back into my civvies and then it was Best Friend’s turn.
Dress Number One: Halter neck, detail on the bust, a-line skirt that had a lift at the front revealing lovely netting/lace underskirts. Gorgeous on, really made the most of Best Friend’s lovely little figure – but a heavy dress with a long train and lots of underskirts, not practical for a Canadian wedding in 30 degree heat. Next!
Dress Number Two: Strapless, with a stunning band of crystals around the bust, falling to a beautiful swishy skirt with a short train. Simple, elegant, the luxurious soft material moulded itself to her, accentuating waist and bust. “I like it!” she announced sounding surprised. So did I, it was stunning. A definite front runner.
Dress Number Three: Chiffon, strapless, with a sparkling diamante cross across the bust falling to a straight chiffon skirt. Simple, elegant, beautiful. Exactly the type of material she had been looking for and really pretty, it looked beautiful. But perhaps a little too simple? A maybe maybe.
Dress Number Four: The same Dress Number Four as I tried on above! Just as beautiful on her as it was on me, though she thought it looked better on me. She’s too polite for her own good! I think she’s kindly marked it off her list as she saw how much I loved it. Aw!
Heads full of dresses we stumbled back out into the sunlight and bade Calverstown goodbye. For now.
The hunt continues.
THIS is the post where I should be waxing lyrical about my fantastic weekend telling you all about the fun I had. The wedding I was due to go to on Friday, the wedding dress shopping jaunt I had planned with Best Friend for Saturday, the chilled out barbecue I was toying with for Sunday.
But it was not to be.
Reader, I have been struck down with food poisoning. A rogue prawn has inveigled its way into my system and fecked me up royally, I’m in tatters so I am. I’m just barely back on the solid food now and the past few days have been a total bust.
I’m raging, RAGING, to have missed the wedding last Friday. Yer Man’s cousin it was and he and his now-wife are little dotes and I would have LOVED to have been there. Not least, obviously, to steal some of their lovely ideas for my own wedding next year.
What? It’s a year away, everyone from that wedding would have forgotten where they saw the lovely ideas first time around!
I was up for HOURS on Thursday night prepping myself, trying on a variety of outfits that I had dry cleaned, wrestling myself into tights, squeezing my lard into sucky-in knickers – the good kind, the industrial kind – turning this way and that in the mirror before finally deciding on two outfits and hanging them up carefully, ready for the final decision the following morning.
I washed myself, I exfoliated myself, I plucked, primped, shaved and moisturised myself, my hair was scrubbed, conditioned, hot-oiled, blow-dried and straightened to within an inch of its life, raring to go first thing the next morning. I spent a full hour doing my nails, an almost unheard of activity, including base coats and top coats and endless hanging around waiting for the damn things to dry, waving my hands about like a half eejit.
Eventually at about, oh, 2am I struggled into bed, sure the six hours of preening would mean I’d look half presentable the next day and fell almost instantly asleep.
Until 5am. When something woke me. I lay for a moment in the darkness wondering what it was before finally realising it was my stomach. Speaking most urgently to me.
I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Needless to say, several sweaty hours later it became clear I wasn’t going to make the wedding. I could barely stand upright and had taken to curling up into a ball, keening softly to myself, in between bathroom runs, to try to ease the pain.
Go on without me, I urged Yer Man. Save yourself. I’m no good to man nor beast today. Go. Dance. Have fun. I said the last bit bitterly, secretly hoping that he wouldn’t, that he’d be too overwrought with worry about me that he wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself for a minute. I know, I’m a right bitch.
Didn’t work though, the fecker rolled in at 2am full of the joys of spring. Though he did bring home cake. I’ll have to give him credit for that.
Throughout the afternoon it became clear I wasn’t going to be up for the dress shopping on Saturday with Best Friend either, so I was forced to bail on that as well. Thankfully Best Friend being a paragon of understanding loveliness didn’t mind a bit and was happy to postpone until next weekend.
I called the dress shop croaking ‘I have food poisoning’ down the phone pathetically, hoping for some sympathy but receiving only a cheery ‘no problem if you want to postpone’ in return. Pah! I was sick. And alone! I wanted sympathy goddammit!
And I was so looking forward to the dress shopping. Ireland’s only exclusively plus size bridal shop it is apparently. We had booked a private appointment so loads of time to look around, acres of space to try on dresses in, everything would fit, everything would look good.
No rushing, no squeezing into dresses four sizes too small and ‘imagining’ what it would look like in the right size. No hordes of girls waiting in the shop for their turn in the dressing room. No sidelong glances from skinny brides, smirking because I had the audacity to be fat in a bridal shop. It was going to be mighty.
But it was not to be.
Even on Sunday then, my half-formed idea to drag out our beautiful garden furniture that we’ve sat on precisely twice since last June and barbecue us up some dinner went by the wayside. I just couldn’t, I barely managed to drag myself out of the bed and into the shower before collapsing on the sofa again for another six hours of solid wallowing. It was all I was fit for.
So the weekend has been a disaster, all my plans went out the window and I have nothing to report at all.
Now, how are all of you?