I have been living with my roommatesister for going on three years now, and I've adjusted fairly well to her relatives. They've also adjusted fairly well to me. The number of screaming matches at family functions has decreased dramatically, the politeness level has gone way up, and all in all, we no longer utterly dread them. I may not even bring the pocket flask of strong spirits this time! (I normally consume alcohol only rarely, and am not usually given to hiding from problems by drinking. There are, however, very rare exceptions, such as Thanksgiving with the outlaws and Christmas with the outlaws.) While my family is far from perfect, being composed of humans, and a tribe of humans given to crankiness, obstinacy, and sheer character, I am not accustomed to any sort of family gathering with any routine kerfuffles more serious than some overstimulated children badly in need of bedtime. When I first described this to my roommatesister, she got the big eyes that a child hearing a fairy tale might get. Her family gatherings are typically marked by drunkenness, altercations, arguing, quarreling, and at least one screaming session. As one might imagine, her family has me seriously on edge.
There is the tradition in her family that Easter dinner is with Sis's great-aunt, the archetypical frail, conservative, gentle old widow with the heart condition. We all attend. This may be my first year at this particular party, as there have been extenuating circumstances in years before.
Planning, packing, and dressing for these events has struck me since the beginning as very similar to plotting out some sort of military campaign. Logistics, supplies, armor, plans for advancing, plans for contingencies, and several flavors of retreat. This holiday gathering has to have the least detailed plans of all the missions we've been dispatched on. (This is partly due to the fact that we now have our own reliable transport, so we may advance and retreat at our commander's discretion.) I was only informed of this mission a few days ago. I wasn't sure what to wear, so asked to borrow an outfit because most of what I've got to wear is a little... gloomy.
It's probably wise to add that while I don't often go overboard on making sure my appearance is 100% perfect, there are a few things I do it for. First, I do try to look my best for job interviews. Second, when I am spending special time with Darkside, I endeavor to present the best side of me, because he deserves to see that as well as my everyday self and me at my worst. Third, I prefer to look nice in festive situations. Fourth and finally, I dress for spending time with possibly-hostile people who I may not overtly attempt to permanently alienate with the utmost precision, presenting myself as near to exactly as I intend to, always reinforcing that I am polite, I am cultured, I am restrained, I was raised as the daughter of a well-to-do programmer rather than the child of a lower working-class household, I am pretty, and like it or not, my roommatesister has attached herself to me and I to her, and she and I aren't being pried apart any time soon. Oh, and I'm not a crack whore, and I do have parenting skills that I was able to learn from following my parents' example rather than using them as a counterexample. That's a rather lot to convey nonverbally, and wardrobe plays a large part. Sadly, these days my spring wardrobe runs to poor college student as well as a lot of four year old long sleeved black shirts that are starting to sport small holes (thank you, eris_raven, for your contributions...). This does not exactly scream "I will not condescend to notice that I probably wouldn't be associating with you people if not for the fact that I seem to have done something similar to being married in." So, I asked for some wardrobe help.
Sis dug up a dress that her mother had given her -- white or offwhite fabric with a blue rose print, and something subtle with white-on-white patterning going on in the background. The waistline is that V-shape in the front that so flatters me, and the sleeves are elbow-length, slightly puffed. The skirt is only knee-length, sadly; I would have preferred a mid-calf or ankle-length skirt.
Sis was not too thrilled with the dress to start with, but when I put it on and modeled it for her, she got the big eyes and told me that I would be wearing that dress, and keeping it thereafter. Evidently it suits me very well, much better than it had suited other people who wore it. It actually reminds me very strongly of the pretty dress Mama made me that I wore when graduating from elementary school. That dress was of a superficially similar pattern, but with shorter sleeves and a different waistline. The fabric of that had a cream background with a very small print of pink roses, blue flowers, and I do believe pink ribbons as well. The print on this fabric is large. This dress probably looks tacky when worn by someone unsuited to it, but I make it look good. While white is not particularly my color, and large floral prints on a large soft woman tend to make her look like an armchair, the cut of the dress and my classic figure and regal bearing somehow pull the outfit together.
marxdarx looked at me, and he proclaimed with admiration and astonishment that I could make anything look
That was step one. The next step, of course, is accessorizing. I shall be wearing off-white nylons and my navy blue suede flats, naturally. There was some long debate over jewelry. Naomi's blue topaz was debated but finally not selected. A lovely necklace featuring lapis lazuli and malachite was pondered over, as well as an azurite and garnet (heh, heh) necklace, but neither of those was quite right. I finally elected to wear the $BLUE_GEMSTONE and $DIAMOND_OR_IMITATION earring and pendant set from KL7AM (yes, FatherSir, he may be a flake, but he's an interesting person). The pendant will be on the chain Grandma gave me in 1991 or 1992, and I'll be wearing Naomi's ring besides. I'm polishing my nails blue.
I can't wear my "I Kiss Girls" button, even though I'm not a member of the family and therefore can't be disowned. I probably shouldn't wear my rainbow ring. I am debating whether or not to wear my spiked wristlets. Something tells me that as wonderfully lovely as my spiked collar is, that wouldn't go over so well either. I am planning on taking a small notebook and a pen, as well as a project bag, yarn, crochet hooks, and my afghan, and spending some serious quality time with an isolated corner.
Someday soon, I hope, I'll get to spend quality festive time with a higher percentage of people I want to spend time with...