Of Wearing My Red Dress [after “Of the Custom of Wearing Clothes”]

Someone asked a beggar, whom he saw in his shirt in the depth of winter, as brisk and frolic as he who goes muffled up to the ears in furs, how he was able to endure to go so? “Why Sir,” he answered, “you go with your face bare: I am all face.”
MONTAIGNE, “OF THE CUSTOM OF WEARING CLOTHES”

The red wrap dress has a copper paisley pattern and a low-cut front, décolletage framing, a little too sexy to wear to the office even though the hem falls to my knees. I wear the dress with tall boots, tights, and a good underwire bra. Men on the street, and some hard-eyed women—cops, firefighters, truck drivers—turn and look at this dress. Yes, I say the dress, not me; I phrase intentionally here, because I know what the lookers don’t. I know that some days they look and other days not so much. I know the woman they see in this dress is made of a design, a bra, a posture, a stance, a mood, an attitude, and more story than body. Long-married-me wants to text my beloved to tell her I’m all dolled up, wearing the red dress, so where is she taking me to dinner? Middle-aged-divafemme-me wants to belt out a show tune, one of those Sondheim half-bitter, half-fuck-you-I’m-still-here numbers, to acknowledge that I’m not dead yet, that the bra, the posture, the stance, the mood holding up that dress is still possible. Feminist-me wants to motion them over, those lookers with their cutting, dangerous gazes, and whisper in their ears what I assume they don’t want to hear from a blond woman in a low-cut red dress….

Posted in Covers.