Online dating is awkward at best. Two complete strangers see each other’s profile, view the photos, exchange a few email messages, perhaps a phone call, and then meet. There is nothing normal about it. Normal would be to meet someone through friends, work, or the neighborhood grocery store where you could talk, size them up, and then get together for a drink. In the non-cyber dating world there is a connection with one’s real life, but online you could be flirting with Patrick Bateman for all you know.
The last thing I wanted to think about was what to wear and so I created the Date Night Uniform. This would be my go-to outfit—something that would work in almost any setting. I had lots to consider. I wanted to find clothing that showed off my assets (limited amount the older I get) and camouflaged the areas I affectionately call, “What the hell happened?” Here’s what I came up with and please ignore the odd photo angle (I’m 5’6″ and weigh 137 lbs.), and the fact that my head looks gynormous–don’t expect Annie Leibovitz anytime soon:
Shapewear-everyone should use it, but especially me as I’m not as smooth as I used to be. My absolute favorite recent purchase is the clever little device that gives me back the waist I had in my 30s. Welcome back, old friend. I’d forgotten what you looked like. I bought it at Bra Smyth and it is a pull on waist cincher by TC Fine Intimates ($46 and worth every penny). It is perfect for eliminating that odd back fat (What is that?) that gathers below my bra, and it is long enough to be tucked into my pants. Adieu, evil muffin-top.
Pants-Amazingly flattering on any body, the Pixie Pant from J. Crew was a great find. $88 may seem costly for legging-like bottoms, but these are much more. The elastic waistband stays in place and the back zipper makes them dressier. An added bonus is they run big so I was smiling as I bought mine in a size-2. I am normally a size-6. They also stretch with wear so get them snug. The only downside is they have to be dry cleaned, but they are worth the inconvenience and added cost.
Top-I can’t remember where I got this cowl-neck top as I cut the label out. I’ve had it for several years and think it might be from Banana. I wanted something that was long enough to cover the front—just in case the dromedary phalange showed up. As an alternative, I just found a great tissue turtleneck top at Target (Mossimo $12.99), which is long enough to cover all that it should. I bought a couple in size medium.
Belt- Wide belts further accentuate the fake waist I’ve created with my cincher. The belt in the photo is Betsey Johnson.
Evening Bag-I splurged several years ago and bought a Louis Vuitton. I use it constantly with everything from jeans to a LBD. It is big enough to hold all that is necessary for a first date: lipstick, gloss, brush, phone, Metrocard, cash, pepper spray. It was an impulse buy from Neiman Marcus prompted because I was called “Ma’am” by a valet whose
very perky onion handsome face I’d been checking out a few minutes earlier as he jogged to get my car. If I ever need another I doubt I’d buy new again but would instead head to a consignment store, such as Second Time Around, and get a quality bag for much less. I’m a sucker for designer handbags, but a new evening bag is only necessity when taking the edge off of a profoundly disturbing reality check.
Boots-The black boots in the photo are snakeskin Yves Saint Laurent. I got them a year ago at an YSL sample sale at 80% off. I wear them if I’m not walking too far—the 4” heel is thick enough to be sturdy, but they still are not suitable for trekking through Manhattan. If I know I’m going to be doing some serious walking (thanks, Hopstop) I wear my Prada wedges. I can go for miles in these fabulous boots and have worn them a ton since I bought them at Bergdorf’s 2 years ago. I paid the dreaded retail price but they have a waffle sole and are water-resistant so for NYC winters they’ve been a great investment. This year I added another pair of black boots to my closet and I wear them when I’m feeling sassy. My 26-year-old daughter—who bought the same boots—told me they were inappropriate for my age. Whatever. The 5” wedge only adds to the illusion that I’m long and lean. They are Steve Madden and I got them on sale at Nordstrom a few months ago.
Jewelry-A chunky necklace and big earrings are standard accessories for me. In the photo I have on my Kyle Richards-esque earrings. Love those oversized hoops and don’t judge my Real Housewives habit. I bought them from a vendor at my neighborhood flea market, Green Flea. The necklace is one I found at a fabulous hole in the wall costume jewelry store, Ula, 661 Lexington Avenue, near my daughters’ apartment in Midtown. I think it cost $18. I search for inexpensive pieces that don’t look cheap. I always check out the backside of a necklace because sometimes it is better than the front. The one I’m wearing is covered in rhinestones—a little too “aging stripper,” even for a former Vegas chick, but the back is fantastic. The one piece of jewelry that I never change is the bracelet I wear on my right wrist. I got it as a Christmas present from my late husband. It is the last gift he gave me and I’ve never taken it off. It is the Cartier LOVE bracelet in rose gold.
With the clothing decisions made I quickly spritz my favorite fragrance on my wrists (Bond no. 9, West Side), and then focus my pre-date attention on the make-up application. The magnifying mirror is a scary device, but the process tends to go smoother with the attire issue addressed. I am normally done with a few minutes to spare so before getting dressed I have just enough time to do a quick run through of the Tae Kwan Do self-defense moves I learned from a You Tube video. I look quite fetching in my full-length mirror as I strike a Kill Bill Pose wearing only the waist cincher and a Hanky Panky thong. I notice my face has a game-day quality. I take a deep yoga breath and slowly exhale. I am Melani, Goddess of Internet Dating, my brain confirms this fact as my chin raises just a tad and I know exactly what comes next. In a rapid sweeping karate move (that I just invented, but I like a lot), I lock the elbows of my outstretched arms and tighten my fists and with a low growl I say, “Back the fuck up, Pal. I’m not that kind of girl.”
OK, I’m ready.
“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.” Imelda Marcos