If I Had a Ribbon Bow (aka Why I Need a 37th Little Black Dress)

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Lately I’ve been having all kinds of epiphanies up in here. Not “meaning of life” stuff, but staggeringly obvious insights that mostly annoy me with their tardy blatant-ness. Some are unimportant, of the “Hey, it is a soul-deadening waste of time to keep up with the Kardashians!” variety, but others are more substantive.

Ever since I can remember I’ve bought too many clothes. As I got older and had more money, the clothes got better but the problem got worse. Closets and drawers, bags and suitcases, all stuffed with dozens and dozens of clothes: little black dresses, not-so-little black dresses, 40s whimsical frocks, this-year’s jeans, Joan Jett wannabe leather jackets, and dozens of boots – cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, vaguely S & M-y boots, boots made for walking, and boots made for standing still for about two minutes before having to sit down. Thousands upon thousands of dollars wasted on…what? Vanity? Shallow materialism? A desire to fit in? A desire to stand out? None of those feel right.

Then, it hit me. (Get ready for the massive “Duh!”)

When I was a young girl, I was smitten with 30s and 40s movies and music, and ordered books and records from the Nostalgia Book Club, which I joined by cutting out a form in TV Guide. One record had a song I played over and over. Maxine Sullivan singing, “If I Had a Ribbon Bow” really spoke to me. The song’s about a girl’s longing for beautiful things, sanctuary, but mostly for love:

“If I had a ribbon bow so nice and clean,
I could be a princess or a fairy queen;
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear,
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair.”

At the heart of the song is the idea that if only I had just this one thing, I would finally be loveable. If only I had this one thing, at last I’d be loved.

“All the livelong day, to the Lord above me
All I do is pray, for someone to love me.”

That’s it. Naïve, irrational, ridiculous as it is, I know that buried down deep is this idea that there is some piece of clothing, some outfit, that can fix what’s broken, put me over the edge, nudge me into the woman I want to be.

Yes, I have about 30 black dresses, but this new dress, this is the one. Sure, I’ve got tons of jeans, but this style will transform my C+ bottom half into off-duty model perfection. OK, I already have 4 pairs of vintage cowboy boots, but these here babies will put a spring in my step like none other.

Duh, right? Well, knowing this intellectually doesn’t seem to be adequately translating into action – or rather, inaction. I’m still trolling net-a-porter and ebay with an almost feverish optimism.

I don’t have the discipline or sanity to just stop. But I think a doable first step will be to “shop my closets.” At the very least I’ll realize what I already have (which is pretty much everything) and hopefully that’ll stop me from buying yet another.

We’ll see…

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