Making a statement

Eleanor resting on top of Luke's head
Eleanor resting on top of Luke’s head

My oldest son Tom is getting married next week. Even as I write these words, it seems like I am writing about someone else’s life. For almost a year, their wedding day, and the special days leading up to it, have been expanding from  ideas to discussions to physical forms. The one area that hadn’t come together for me though, was my dress. I hadn’t bought a dress in years and believed that it was impossible for me to find one that fit well, was comfortable, and looked nice. It has been an interesting process.

A few months ago, I finally found a dress that was pretty good but needed some alterations. After several fittings, I picked it up last week but it was still just OK. Something about it seemed off. I kept trying to convince myself to accept it because after all, everyone said it looked nice, and if I could just be OK with it, I thought I’d feel better.

But I wasn’t comfortable with it, so a few days ago, I went on a marathon dress-shopping trip. At the end of a 9 hr day and after trying on 100 dresses (without buying one), I noticed that I was thinking, over and over,

“I wish that I didn’t have so many rolls of fat to cover up.”

At some of the shops, I actually voiced this, and the response from the very nice women who were trying to help me, was always the same; “You need Spanx.” Well, I had no idea what this was, but as it was described to me, it sounded like a Victorian garment of torture. Turns out, it is a torso-covering spandex garment designed to smooth the tummy, and the “unsightly” rolls, out.

Something just seemed off about this. I was trying on light, comfortable, dresses for a July wedding, but in order to wear a light, comfortable dress, I needed a one-piece spandex suit underneath? No thank you.

And then another thought came which was much more soothing to me:

“There is nothing wrong with my, or any other middle-aged woman’s body. Maybe there is something wrong with the dress designs that require us to squeeze ourselves into uncomfortable undergarments in order to look nice.”I prefered this thought and so I decided to trade it for the previous one.

Then a friend offered to shop with me and I felt like I was on a magic carpet ride. We went to every dress store in Manchester Vt. At one point we went into Armani and there was one dress that was a possibility. I didn’t even look at the price tag, but the dress was silk; very dramatic and elegant,… but not great on me. As my friend and I were leaving the shop she said, “Did you see how much that dress was? It was $3000.00!” and we both laughed. I said, “I am really glad I didn’t love it” (Even though it was on sale for a mere $600.00).

At the end of the day she said, “There is one last shop that I want you to try. Even if you don’t find a dress, it is such a happy shop.” We walked into Five Seasons Vermont (in Manchester Center) and it was like taking a deep breath. Happy, bright, beautiful, fun…AND I found a dress that was comfortable, looked nice and I loved it. It is made by U.S. company called Jude Connally ( ) and it is just what I’ve always loved in clothing; pretty, comfortable, washable, non-wrinkly and easy.

When I showed it to Jack last night he said, “It is such a friendly-looking dress!

And that is when I knew what the problem with the other dress was. It was navy lace, dark, pretty,… but not friendly. And the Armani dress wasn’t friendly either. If my clothing is making a statement then I want that to be: “Hi! I am so happy to be here, and I am so happy that you are here too!” not, “Hello, don’t I look fabulous for my age?”

I want to be more interested in how I am “seeing” others, than what I look like to them.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” Audrey Hepburn


43 thoughts on “Making a statement”

  1. Mary, thank you so much for making your statement! I laughed, in recognition, as I read your post. Our son is getting married in September and I have just this past week begun the hunt for my dress, which happens to have the same requirements as yours 🙂 And, I, too, have not shopped for a dress in years! I’ve been a bit concerned about finding one that won’t make me look like a washing-machine box (I would say refrigerator box, but I’m not even 5′ tall) but, now, thanks to you, I’m going to be looking for my happy dress! Thank you for helping me to prioritize!

    In LOVE!

    Joy Ayscue

    1. Your Happy Dress! I love that Joy, and thank you for sharing your delightful story with us too!

  2. What a great story, Mary. I was exhausted just hearing how many stores you went to as I dislike shopping. So glad you found a “friendly” dress. It will make all the difference.

    1. Thank you for appreciating my story…. It is so much fun (in retrospect!) to share!

  3. Dear Mary, I love your story about the dress journey…and Audrey Hepbern’s quote is so perfect. I’m sure your beautiful dress will reflect the beautiful spirit that you are and the joy you are feeling about this blessed event. You will radiate grace and friendliness….both inside and out!

    1. I love your friendly thoughts Debra, feel embraced by them, and will carry them with me right into the wedding day!

    1. I am beginning to like shopping Tish (much to my surprise!) and I just might post a picture after the wedding!

  4. I love this post! I’m never happy with the way I look (and mad at myself for caring so much), but that is changing since I left the work world and feel more free to be “me”. So glad you found the right dress to be yourself and enjoy your son’s wedding in.

    1. Thank you Cynthia…I also mail ordered another dress, that came the day after my trip, and I was shocked and delighted to find it fit and I loved it too (I think I’m on a roll!)

  5. Oh, Mary, I am now intrigued! Please post a picture when you’re all gussied up for your son’s wedding. I know you’re going to look “mahvelous.”

    Congrats on a most happy time in your life, and many blessings on the young couple.

    1. Thank you so much Suzanne…. and I can’t tell yet if I’m up to posting a photo, but maybe I will!

  6. I loved your blog today Mary.. and I never wear dresses anymore as I feel exactly like you described feeling…however now I will look online at the site you gave to us and perhaps, just perhaps I will find a dress that I look or rather feel that I look good in! I also loved the Audrey Helpburn quote….so true!

    1. Thank you so much, and I feel delighted that I found Jude Connally too…I have a feeling that I’ll be buying more dresses from her.

  7. Mary: I had a similar time finding the right dress for my son’s wedding. Thank goodness my sister-in-law took me under her wing. Besides the right dress, you have a good friend! Enjoy the wedding. Best wishes to all. And thanks for the message.

    1. You are so right Karen…a friend who can put up with me on a shopping trip is unusually patient! Thank you for your kind wishes too.

  8. Love this post! I am one of your ‘silent’ readers, your writing always speaks to me, but I am doing the exact same thing this week! A wonderful reminder…

    1. So glad that you “spoke up” Susan! and i appreciate your thoughts very much.

  9. The only thing I would disagree with is, ” don’t I look fabulous for my age”. I think you are going to look fabulous, period, end of story! 🙂

  10. Hi Mary –
    I love that you finally considered that dress designers are not making dresses that both look nice and are comfortable. Women’s clothing in general in the last few years seems to require that you wear skin-hugging, uncomfortable Spandex from T-shirts, to jeans, to dresses. Not only are they unflattering to most women, unless you are a 25-year-old twig, but they are certainly not comfortable in summertime – rather like bathing suits from the 1950s and, yes, girdles we wore then, too. Ugh. You were right on by recognizing that designers are not designing for middle-aged women, never mind women even older. Even we “seniors” really want to look and feel good, contrary to what’s portrayed in our media. I loved this post and I love that you found your friendly dress. Now you will surely fell free to enjoy this wonderful day.
    Congratulations for not settling! All good wishes at the wedding. -Jan

    1. Thank you so much Jan…and after I wrote the post, I almost wanted to change it to say,
      “There is nothing wrong with ANY of our bodies!”…no matter what age and shape.

  11. What a wonderful post. I only hope that I am finally at an age where I am so comfortable and happy that it’s how I want to appear. And what does an age look like any more? I think the only thing that should be important is that we are kind to ourselves and others.

    1. Thank you Susan, and I couldn’t agree with you more. It is the kind, open, and happy people (of any age or shape) that I am attracted to also.

  12. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!! Two years ago, my son, Robin, got married on July 3rd. I did wear a navy blue satin dress from David’s Bridal. I looked good and felt good and the wedding pics are great. So my story is a litttle different from yours. But these are the things I loved about your “MOG wedding dress” story: 1. that you think you have “rolls of fat” ! OMG, for those of you who have never met Mary, she is very thin and healthy looking!!! 2. Your conclusion about “seeing” others. 3. the end quote by Audrey Hepburn.

    Have a wonderful Wedding Day. My Best Wishes to your son and his bride.
    P.S. MOG = mother of groom.

  13. Mary, I was also exhausted just reading about how many stores you went to in search of a dress that you felt comfortable in with our progressively changing shapes. I’ve always been slim but a hysterical-ectomy added 10 lbs and I looked like a spayed ‘dog’ after that. Accepting what we are as opposed to what we were takes a bit of getting used to when we’re faced with the reality of a mirror.The line of clothing does look cheerful. I’m glad you fianally found something suitable. You must feel relieved as well. The time is near. Excitement in your household must be building for the upcoming event.
    SandyP in Canada

    1. it was such an eye opening experience Sandy….and half way through that marathon shopping day, I thought, “This is crazy and a waste of time.” but I changed it to, “Something good is coming from this and I am looking forward to finding out what it is!” …I found that I really do like wearing dresses (and this is new for me), and I do like shopping when I’m in a relaxed frame of mind. …what i really saw was how much I enjoyed the day when I “gave into it”…(this seems to be my lesson in life)

  14. Mary, I had a similar problem finding jeans for farm work. All I could find in women’s jeans were low rise, tight, embellished, uncomfortable jeans. I tried on men’s jeans, which fit in the waist and hips, but the legs were huge. Finally found two pair of Lee jeans in Marshall’s that have a regular rise and waist and actually fit. Still may go for men’s jeans next time I need some. haha
    I love the photo of Luke and Eleanor! Years ago I had a Golden retriever and all my cats loved her. Still warms my heart to think about it.

    Have a wonderful time at your son’s wedding!


    1. Thanks so much Donna…and I know that wonderful feeling of “actually fit!”

  15. Ahhhh…Jack nailed it! Friendly! And…welcoming, open and FRESH! You will look and feel as cool as the summer breezes off the lake and as warm as all the magical love in the air!

  16. Dear Mary, So happy for you and your son. That LUKE is really something!


  17. So glad you found something that you love! It is such a special day, and being comfortable will allow you to soak it with one less worry! Hope you have a wonderful wedding season with your family!

  18. Dresses and wrinkles
    and belly rolls and more.
    Great equalizer: gravity
    somehow evens the score.

    Who deems what is fashion?
    not comfort, for sure.
    Strait jacket stick figures
    have lost their allure.

    The day I retired
    I threw away the book.
    I no longer cared
    how frumpy I look.

    Two sets of jeans,
    one for garden; one for ‘dress-up’.
    Two pair of Keen sandals
    make it easy not to mess up!

    No grand occasions
    have cluttered my choices.
    When that day comes
    I’ll call down the voices:

    “No spandex
    No cinch waists
    Stiletto heels be banned.
    Let me breathe,
    Let me walk,

  19. Oh Mary! You had me laughing out loud! Spanx, the modern torture suit! Away, Away! Not on this MOG! Your smile lights up a room – we see it at the top of every post and we feel it in every thing you write. That energy cannot be stitched into any Armani silk or beaded into any Versace gown – it is priceless, – you are the jewel and will be radiant in your Happy Dress next week! Best wishes to your son and his bride. Enjoy every moment of the day. Make sure you wear Happy Shoes too so you can dance the night away!

  20. Glad you found a dress that is “happy” and I hope comfy….. too. I have been to weddings where moms and brides look so uncomfortable , and weddings where they are so comfortable looking the love shines through on the day!!!!!

  21. as with others, you made me laugh out loud today reading your spanx story. . .bravo! for finding the dress that made sense. . . I’m sure your special beauty will shine through. . . can’t imagine the day I’ll be searching for “that dress”. . .I just hope I’ll remember your story and your wisdom!

  22. Oh, I love Jack’s comment! We’re just back from hiking and exploring the back roads of Vermont and New Hampshire. It was a wonderful trip, but in looking at the photos I felt the joy dissolve because I didn’t like how I looked in them. Reading your post just now helps me put this ‘bump’ behind me and move forward. The trip and them memories are what should be cherished, not how I looked after a hot hike. Thanks, Mary.

  23. Dear Mary, I loved this post! I went through this to find my “Mother of the Bride” outfit years ago. I fought the dress idea. I actually wanted a women’s tux. Then I wanted a spunky Cowgirl theme look. I had a total spiritual enema about how I should look. Me.Me.Me. Then I finally came to my senses and realized that this was my daughter and future son-in-law’s day. Not mine. All eyes on them. It was all about them! I went to Cachet with my daughter,relaxed and we tried on dresses after a day at the ocean. Sand,dampness,grit…if they ever knew in that high-brow store. Found the perfect little number and we had a day together we’ll never forget! God works in mysterious ways. Happy summer, Cindy

  24. Please scroll down.

    ________________________________ From: Shirley Riley [] Sent: Friday, July 05, 2013 9:45 AM To: Peterson, Eileen Subject: Fw: This puts things into perspective.

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