MARY GRIFFIN: It's Nerve-Wracking Being a Fashion Plate
When Marianne Kernan asked me to model in the Business and Professional Women's fashion show, she didn't know what she might be getting herself into.
She was asking a world-class klutz to mince down some catwalk. I'm the only person I know who routinely falls up the stairs. I trip on thin air, I've broken one ankle twice, and both wrists ice skating. Bruises mysteriously appear from knocking into things I'm not even aware of. So I should have declined her kind invitation.
Instead, I inwardly laughed at her naivet and said I would be happy to model. I wrote down the date (in my now-famous Filofax discussed in a previous column) and promptly forgot about it.
Until the day that I had to travel up to Carthage and pay a visit to Lisa Reynolds, who owns Lisa's Boutique on McReynolds Street.
I didn't make the trip graciously.
I can't think of many women who don't agonize over clothing. They try items on, turn around and around, looking like a dog chasing its tail, and wonder whether the garment makes them look fat or thin, matronly or elegant, chic or frumpy. They enlist the advice of friends and hapless spouses. Depending on the woman, the advice will be welcomed or the person giving it will be severely punished. I don't know into what category I fall.
I was pleasantly surprised at Lisa's. The boutique brims with literally something for everyone. I arrived early and had a chance to window-shop. In the span of about five minutes, I'd already picked out a few pieces.
There's a reason that Lisa has been in business for many years. Her friendliness and knowledge about what looks good on people instantly made me comfortable. I tried on a couple of the things I'd been eyeing through the window -- some of them I was even tempted to buy.
She demonstrated her talent by pulling garment after garment off racks for me to consider. Really, I loved everything she asked me to try on. And most of them looked good, too.
For my casual outfit, we finally picked out a khaki A-line cotton skirt with cutwork, pairing it with a black cotton top. Then the more formal dresses began flying at me. We chose a simple black deep V-neck dress with a scarflike chiffon drawstring around an empire waist.
Lisa expertly picked out jewelry for each outfit, some of which I would never have chosen. But I was as captivated as a magpie by her selections, many of which she had created herself.
The whole experience was like shopping with a good pal -- one I hope I have the chance to see again. And I did buy both outfits she picked out for me.
Then came the day of reckoning: the annual fundraiser fashion show on Saturday at the Pinehurst Member's Club.
BPW is a national organization that provides personal and professional growth opportunities and promotes equity for women in the workplace. Locally, it does this by hosting the Miss Moore County Scholarship Pageant, as well as the Miss Noel Pageant and many networking events.
The day was a lot of fun, with a luncheon to meet interesting women from all over the county and from diverse backgrounds. There was a lot of female bonding, largely consisting of admiring what everyone else was wearing, models or not.
Then the models, all 16 of us, retreated to a makeshift dressing room. I was the ninth one out of the gate, or rather a chained walkway that led out into the St. Andrews Room. We each walked out into the room individually, pacing ourselves to the narration of Aberdeen Mayor Betsy Mofield, as she described what each model wore. The urge to stomp quickly through the room the way I normally would was hard -- very hard -- to resist. Grace does not come naturally to me.
We were required to step onto the dance floor, circle it, and pause occasionally for people to get a good look at what we wore. That's a little disconcerting.
The true test, for me, came when I had to wear the black dress paired with high, slinky heels. As I walked into the room wearing a maniacal grin, I eyed that dance floor as if it were a sworn enemy ready to leap up, catch one of my heels and throw me airborne.
Feeling as though my ankle joints were really on ball bearings, I slowly walked out, turned around a few times, paused a few more times, and made it back. My second round was near the end, so I didn't have to teeter around too long before the final promenade with the rest of the models.
I was relieved to be finished without so much as a twisted ankle, and although they don't know it, the BPW ladies should be relieved as well.
But I still need to work on my mincing.
Mary Griffin can be reached at email@example.com.
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