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Lullaby, And Goodnight, Go To Sleep Now My Ballgown

As a girl, and then a young woman, I had a little trick for putting myself to sleep. Self-soothing, we’d call it now. However, I had no use for rocking, hair twirling, or routine thumb sucking.

I’d imagine getting dressed for a party. A big party. A fancy party. I’d envision the dress, the jewelry, the shoes. Right off to the Land of Nod.

These days sleep is more elusive. Ah, middle age. But the joys of imagined dress-up haven’t deserted me. Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m going to a charity gala. I haven’t attended one in decades. Business events don’t count. But in my imagination I’m at a fund-raiser for San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.


A digression. These days, the Internet provides tools for daydreaming. Couldn’t we use that as a definition of the Internet, a summation of why it’s such an unstoppable phenomenon? We dream that our spreadsheets predict future wealth, that our social network contacts love us, that a vacation in Turkey is just out the door. Some of this of course may be true.

But let us narrate the day dream. Because the stories we tell on top of what tools deliver us still matter.

Could I just about pull that dress off, all silver slide and bare skin of it? I’d get friendly with my ShakeWeight again. Wear shoes to match color, vary the texture. An Alexander McQueen wrap, just because one can. And aquamarines, so that everything is pale but my blue eyes and dusky pink mouth. All age spots gone, neck nicely blurred. This is imaginary.

Let’s borrow a construct from Let’s ask the questions as though your answers have weight. Which, of course, they do.

o1: Do you have a different imaginary construction? Something beautiful you build completely in the air?

02: Can women over 50 wear cut-outs or is our skin oddly taboo?

03: What color ballgown would you choose, were the occasion to present itself?

Do tell.

34 Responses

  1. Ohhhhh, yes. You will be incandescent at the Museum Benefit Ball, all glittering silver and ice blue, perfect. Each selection you made blends seamlessly with the next, and even though I’d not select brown nail polish for you as you have, I trust your wisdom. And now I’m going back to polyvore and re-open my account so I can have fun dressing for the ball as well! If your table isn’t full, might we join you?

  2. The gown you featured here is gorgeous! I have always wanted to wear a red ballgown to a formal event. What a great way to lull yourself to sleep at night!

    1. Jen, if you would like to do this, check out your local American Heart Association’s annual “Heart Ball”. Most of the women will be wearing a red gown!

  3. If I had a ball-gown occasion, I’d go orange or green. Unusual colours you don’t see too much in ball gowns (in my experience at least).

    Because if I’m going to be fancy and classy, I want to do it in an unexpected way.

  4. Ooooooh, pretty, pretty, pretty pictures from Polyvore, but also in the mind. Love all of it, including the gown with the itty-bitty cutout. Much bigger than that and there might be an issue of cutouts and not-so-youthful skin, but not with this frock. The shoes are simply TDF.

    Sending you a smile,

  5. I can almost picture you in that gown, and I am sure you’d look radiant with all the shining silver and clear, pale blue. As for nail polish, I’d probably choose Chanel Ballerina or Tendresse, so as not to detract from the stunning aquamarines and beautiful blue eyes, but I can also see how a mid-toned greyed brown (is that Particuliere?) could ground the iciness, which seems to want to just float away.

    I find myself fantasizing less and less about such snazzy attire, as my social life is so different from what it once was. That said, I would likely look for something similarly light, such as silvery-grey or pewter, or perhaps I’d head in the other direction and choose a deep Prussian blue. I would like to find a dress with a higher neck and perhaps full sleeves, but I would have a wide open back. I have always liked the surprise of such clothing.

    When I fantasize to calm myself, I almost always picture myself sitting on a porch that abuts the beach, and that outfit is a lot different!

  6. Strange, but I have never, ever fantasized anything you describe above! Am not able to do it even now. Sorry. I think that I´m just too serious. I have no experience on occasions you write about.
    As an answer to no 2, it depends on the personality of the over 50 woman, in my opinion.
    However, I´d suggest self-discipline.
    No 3, whatever the occasion, the color would have to be ” mine “. No way a color to pop up from the surroundings.
    I want you to know, that I do think, that the outfit you chose for yourself, the color is very good, though I have doubts about the design – the bare back.
    The accessories are ok.

  7. I love the ensemble you have dreamed about. It would look great on you—oh, if we could only see you in it.

    Skin on the over 50 set? It’s never been an issue for me. I wear sleeveless all the time, but have never worn strapless or backless in my whole life.

    What color would I wear? Perhaps a pale nectarine. I look great in orange of all things.

  8. Your selections are exquisite! I love aquamarines, and your drop earrings are divine. Cut out at 50+ – hmmmm…. possibly upper back and shoulders, but not my upper arms. An merald or ruby gown would be nice. I might add a mini tiara to my imaginary ensemble just for fun!

  9. Oh, I love this scenario, Lisa. I have spent many a night driving up to my imaginary mountain cabin, which mysteriously always has a fire already flickering and wood smoke curling into the night sky. I have an LL Bean tote full of groceries that I unpack before stepping into the cedar-scented bathroom for a shower. Now I shall alternate “dress up” with “play house”!

    1. Ohhh. My grandfather built a cabin on Mirror Lake in Highlands NC, ca 1932. That place will never be out of my mind, ever. I’ve been to lots and lots of balls in my lifetime, but none compare to the feeling of driving up the dirt road to that cabin, unloading the car, walking up the granite stepping stones, turning the key….nothing compares, and never will.

  10. What a lovely way to fall to sleep! I like the gown and the aquamarine touches would be perfect. Not so sure about the cut-outs, although the area on my body that this gown exposes would past muster. It’s the freckled upper-chest that would not.

    I actually do receive a formal invite to a gala annually, although I’ve never gone because the cost of the gown on top of the “ticket” was prohibitive, but dreaming–a statement green I think. My eyes…

  11. I love this. So pretty.

    I like to imagine home decor and projects. From the time I was a little girl. It helps me to drift off, but I seem to be outgrowing it as a self-soothing ritual. Being the mother of a boy toddler might have caused this.

    I think some women could pull it off in this modest form. I think you are one of them, if you were so inclined. Though I would be surprised (!), given what I know of your style choices.

    I think I would choose a deep plum, or perhaps green. I have fair skin, caramel blond hair, and lighter brown eyes, kind of goldish. Your Polyvore creations are so much fun.

  12. I do this as well. Isn’t it a wonderful way to fall asleep? I’ve never been invited to any sort of formal event in real life, but in the Land of Nodding Off, my mailbox is full of invitations to grand galas.

    I absolutely think you could pull off the dress shown, and I applaud your use of aquamarines.

    For me, I think I’d go with a dark purple or navy blue gown. I have black hair, blue eyes and fair skin. Keeping my skin fair is a little bit of a challenge,though I know it’s less skin damage in the long run, so I like to show it off with darker, saturated colors.

  13. Think the silver gown with your hair would look stunning,I would think you could pull off the cut outs/low back as you are slim….what age spots!! mine are freckles and I love them.

    Mine would be cream with gold accessories.Ida

  14. Stunning outfit you haved put together! Like you, I also use my imagination to soothe myself! If going to a very dressy event I would wear a flowy strapless gown in the palest of pink,sexy strappy sandals, with lots of diamond jewelry. Of course my hair would be sleek and shiny, face in perfect pale pink makeup and I would have no wrinkles!

  15. Beautiful ensemble you’ve put together for yourself. We moved yesterday and I’m exhausted and knee deep in boxes. The only long gown I can imagine is a Lanz flannel one, accessorized with new Uggs.

  16. My construct alternates between and sometimes combines the ballgown fantasy with the elegant historic hotel fantasy – they actually go well together. My dream gown is usually blue, turquoise or green. Historic hotels? French Lick/West Baden, Ocean House RI, the Wentworth, etc. (A chateau in the Loire valley or a small castle would also suffice.) And then there is Downtown Abbey.

    I would like to comment to those of you who say this isn’t your life. We all are dressing more casually then years ago, but there are still formal events in most cities. Many of these are annual fundraisers for various non-profits. Some are open to members only and invitations go to major donors. Most are open to anyone who accesses the website and buys a ticket or two. While certainly not possible for those who are having a difficult time financially, tickets often are available in the range of dinner at a fine dining restaurant. Of course the dress and tuxedo are extra. Ballroom dance groups also often have formal dress events. If it is your dream, there are ways to do this that don’t require belonging to the Learjet set.

    1. You’re so right. To say nothing of the fact that this kind of dress-up benefits others. I think I’ll put this on my very short before 60 list.

  17. Artsy Grande lulls herself to sleep, uncertain of the wisdom behind accepting position of honorary chair the Museum Ball. She fantasizes about strategic relationships at upper reaches of the Met, she calls in a favor, straightaway her driver fetches her long time favorite, permission granted for alterations for fitting. Before leaving NYC, driver pulls car up to the Marshall Rose address, is buzzed into Ms. Grande’s bff Candace Bergen Rose’s flat and will be given earrings for Ms. Grande to wear for the evening. At last minute, Ms. Grande texts driver that Mary McFadden has put something aside for her to try, the one on the right, in case it’s chilly. The shoes were already in her closet, AGs have these in every color.

  18. I tried on a winey-berry colored satin strapless gown when looking for my MOB dress. It had a huge assymetrical bow on the front and I think was a Prada knock off. The color was divine and made me look tanned, the bride urged me to get it. But alas, I felt the strapless bust with the bow was much too youthful and left too much for me to cover up.

    And I thank heavens I sent it back because it ended up being the bridesmaids’ gowns in navy blue!

  19. Having unpacked about 100 boxes today, I’m now kind of into this. I want it to be winter, very cold with snow on the ground. Some gorgeous velvety brocade cape with a generous hood, and fur trim all the way around, and of course a fur muff. Some deep blue velvet gown, with a Dr. Zhivago vibe. Arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Yeah, totally into this now.

  20. 02 i think they certainly can, but this thirty-three-year-old woman would have a hard time with cutouts just below her breasts. how would one wear underthings, and/or avoid the dreaded UnderBoob?

    1. Well, the bandeau looks to be tight, and my bust is quite manageable. Or so I believe. The proof would be in the pudding, so to speak.

  21. Aw, what a sweet way to fall asleep. I would just read stealthily with a flashlight under the covers until I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. Still do (no longer under the covers though!)

    I do fantasize about getting dressed up like this once a year or so for some event like a ball or fundraiser. The cut out is the thing that really sparks my interest about the dress. Oh yes, if it fits and flatters, wear it and bear it! I suspect I will be feeling free to do such things at whatever age. It just suits. :)

  22. I know I’m a baby on here – but I want to give my 2 cents since Mom just bought her mother-of-the-bride dress (well, she bought 4 to model for me at home):

    02: Can women over 50 wear cut-outs or is our skin oddly taboo? Yes yes yes. If you can pull it off, do it. My Mom is showing some skin at my wedding and she can pull it off better than most of my guests who may be showing the same fleshy parts. It really breaks down to your comfort level and how truly flattering it is!

    03: What color ballgown would you choose, were the occasion to present itself? Navy. Always and forever. Navy.

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