My fashion sense – if I ever had any – has abandoned me.
My approach has always been to dress up a little more than the occasion calls for. That included work. There’s something about my vertically challenged frame that benefits from putting on a dress instead of jeans. (Not that I have anything against jeans!) Plus, at 3:30 am it was easier to wear a dress than to assemble a bunch of separate pieces. Morning radio life meant simplifying everything as much as possible.
Then came self-employment. I was at my heaviest when I first left radio and we moved to Wallaceburg. I bought several of the same loose, flowy, tunic-length tops at the town’s Walmart and wore them with everything. This fashion choice – or choice to ignore fashion – was part of my refusal to purchase bigger clothing. Stretch leggings, flowy top in either blue or red, that was my uniform.
Then came another move and the pandemic. Who cared what I wore? It was always just me, Derek, and Miss Sugar. Like most people, even once the worst of the pandemic was over, we didn’t do a ton of socializing. And I certainly wasn’t signing up for business events. I can’t even remember what I wore when Scott Taylor and I were operating White Hat PR, in the months before Covid-19 shut us down. At the VO North conference last fall, I assembled three pairs of the same slim, black pants and a variety of tops and jackets. I wasn’t taking the stage so again, as long as I was clean and presentable, I didn’t care too much about it.
However, the launch event for the new book Trade Up was a different story. Along with my co-author John, I knew I’d be front and centre, and noticed by people. My concern wasn’t judgment, it was confidence. I still have some persistent weight to lose (although I’m more than halfway to my goal) and comfort was key along with appropriate attire.
Knowing that last-minute decisions can lead to disaster, I picked out an outfit a few days prior to last Thursday. All was calm. And then for some strange reason I googled, “combining olive with black”, and panic set in. The results said “olive is the perfect shade to wear in autumn.” What? This is spring?! My olive jacket over a black dress was going to look autumnal? Oh no!
Suddenly it was as if my brain was scrubbed of anything to do with colour coordination. I had a mini freak-out and did the only thing I could think of. I went to my little voice-over support Messenger chat and asked two of my favourite (and younger!) people what to do! Rachel Gilbert and Mary Anne Ivison.
Rifling through my closet, it looked like I had no options. I’d given away all of my business dresses and jackets long ago, except for one black blazer and the aforementioned olive one. I realized I’d really jumped the gun and should have saved a few more things. It was about three hours before we had to leave for the convention centre and I was in the exact situation I’d tried so hard to avoid.
I still didn’t know what to wear. The VO North conference was the last peopley event I’d been to and that was six months ago!
How lucky am I to have this little support group? Rachel and Mary Anne saved the day by allowing me to vent a little while I figured it out.
I’m in no danger of being invited to walk a runway but I think I did alright. A grey or taupe jacket might have worked better but I didn’t have one! But olive and black wouldn’t have been right. John Finan looked dapper as we posed with our book. As far as I know, he didn’t have the clothing crisis of faith that I had!
It might seem like a silly thing but when you’ve done all you can to get OUT of the public eye, it’s nerve-wracking to jump back in. Even for just a couple of hours. I have a few Zoom tops and a lot of comfy clothes, but, clearly, I need to go shopping for business attire. Perhaps I should ask Rachel and Mary Anne to come with me?!