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I Haven't a Thing To Wear

by Rose Madeline Mula

Three mysteries will always taunt me: Einstein's Theory of Relativity, how to buy low and sell high, and how it's possible to have three huge closets crammed with clothes and still never have a thing to wear-at least nothing appropriate for the occasion at hand.

Everything I own is either too formal or too casual for anything to which I'm ever invited. I seem to have an uncanny knack for either buying all the wrong clothes or not getting asked to any of the right affairs.

For instance, I was recently requested to attend a surprise anniversary party to be held at four o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. I was very smug as I slipped into my elegantly simple tailored suit that the saleswoman had assured me would be at home at any afternoon social event. That's just where I should have left it--at home. When I arrived at the party I had the feeling that the other women guests belonged to a secret sorority. All of them (including the lady being "surprised.") knew something I didn't. There they were-every last one of them-dripping diamonds and black chiffon to their anklebones. At first I thought I had the wrong address and had stumbled into a very dressy wake. But nobody had died. I just wished I could.

However, uncomfortable though I was, I apparently wasn't considered completely disgraced, because a few weeks later someone in the same group sent me a very elegant, elaborately engraved invitation to a 'garden party.' Naturally, I didn't have a thing to wear, but they weren't going to fool me twice. This time the formality of the invitation gave me a clue as to what would be suitable. I went shopping and tried on one of the latest 'in' fashions...I was positive it was 'in' because no woman in her right mind would want to be seen 'out' in it. But it was the mode of the moment, so I bought it. Before leaving for the party, I scrutinized myself in my full-length mirror and couldn't decide if I looked like a dress extra in a ball scene in a Victor Herbert operetta or a fugitive bridesmaid from a royal wedding. But I was absolutely certain of one thing--I was appropriately done up for a formal garden party. Unfortunately, the shindig turned out to be a backyard barbecue. Again, all the other sorority sisters knew. They were huddled around the spit in their cut-off denims and scruffy Adidas.

The following week, when another group of friends invited me to a cookout, I rushed out and bought some jeans, buried them in the garden overnight, soaked them in harsh detergent for three days, and then cut and frayed the cuffs. "Perfect," I thought, as I jogged off to the cookout. I had even remembered to forget to put on make-up and comb my hair. You guessed it--the other guests were doing Act Two of "The Merry Widow" that evening. I was so embarrassed I beat a hasty retreat, pleading a terrible headache that had made it impossible for me to wear my tiara.

I'm really getting paranoid about this. How come everyone but me knows what to wear? I even felt like a misfit driving through the toll booth on the Massachusetts Turnpike yesterday. I thought I was very chic in my designer tee shirt, leather skirt, thong sandals and car, all in matching red; wouldn't you know-all the toll collectors were wearing green.

I swear I wouldn't even know what to wear to a nude beach. I'd show up in a fig leaf and everyone else would be wearing violets and expressions that said, "My Dear, don't you know that costume went out with Adam and Eve?"

I could really use one of those outfits they advertise that can "go anywhere" with a few deft changes of accessories. You've seen them at fashion shows. A snooty model slinks on stage in a precisely-tailored pants suit, "perfect for that important Board meeting." When the meeting adjourns, Ms. Chic slips out of her slacks and into a matching wrap-around skirt (which had been doubling as a headband), and voila! She's ready for lunch at The Four Seasons, after which her handsome escort takes her to a near-by exclusive beach club. Once there, she simply takes off everything--except the tropical print bikini panties and bra which double as beach wear. After a refreshing swim, her bathing suit and hair drip-dry to perfection in ninety seconds flat; and since her waterproof make-up hasn't so much as smudged, she's ready to dress and return to work. She arrives just as her phone rings. It's Prince Charming. He's picking her up at the office at 6:00 for a gala night on the town. What to wear? No problem. She simply removes her blouse and bra and ties her chiffon handkerchief halter-style around her firm bosom. She then unzips her hem,releasing a floor-length flounce. A touch of Chanel, a hint of lip gloss, and she's off. And you just know that she and her smashing attire will be the page one feature of "Women's Wear Daily" tomorrow.

I've just got to get me one of those outfits. On second thought, why? I don't need one. The only time I've been asked to important Board meetings were in my unliberated past when I carried in the coffee, and a simple apron and cap would have done nicely. And it's been months since anyone's invited me to The Four Seasons--or even MacDonald's. Furthermore, I can't swim, and I doubt if Prince Charming even has my phone number.

Besides, there's one big advantage to not having exactly the right thing to wear--it's a great excuse when you really don't want to accept an invitation. I'm planning to use it, in fact, when the Grim Reaper comes to fetch me. "Gee, I'm sorry," I'll say, "I can't possibly go--I haven't a thing to wear."


Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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