Shopping For Going Out Clothes At Age 37

A scary story to tell in the dark.

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The scariest thing about this look? It’s sold out in all sizes except mine. (Photo via

In ten days time I’m going to New Orleans to visit two of my dearest girlfriends. We haven’t been in the same room together since Obama’s first term — this is a big deal.

A couple of weeks ago one of them texted and asked me how I’d feel about having “a night” in New Orleans. She is my best friend, she knows me well enough to understand that my strong itinerary preference is Popeyes chicken on her couch while we Facebook stalk everyone from law school. She knows what she’s asking of me.

Of course I’m down for a “a night” in New Orleans. Who wouldn’t be? In the era of shared-ride apps we really have no reason to turn down a little revelry. I have enough time to mentally prepare myself to stay awake past midnight and I have a genuine love of the off-Bourbon street offerings in this town, let’s do this! My one true concern: Wardrobe.

I don’t own “going out clothes” anymore because I do not partake in “going out.” I don’t go places with lines out front and if I have to scream to communicate, I leave. The fun I enjoy as a 37-year-old adult typically happens during the day and I can tell you I enjoy it and savor it a lot more than I ever did during the era of my life we’ll quietly call “body glitter.”

But I refuse lead an unbalanced life that only consists of leggings, and I delight in experiences in wonderful places likely to lead to excellent photos. I am jumping into this three-sheets-to-the-wind experience despite the fact that I’d rather be home wrapped in three sheets.

So I took to the internet in order to outfit myself with something suitable for nighttime merriment. Reader, I screamed.

Admittedly it’s been awhile since I let my phalanges wander into these ecommerce categories, but good lord. I didn’t think I’d been out of the game so long that actual clothing had gone out of fashion. I didn’t recognize any of the garments I saw, and I certainly didn’t know how to ingress or egress a single one of them.

Are we wearing lingerie out of doors now, is that what’s happening? Not to sound too much like the women in my grandmother’s Thursday afternoon Mahjong group but put some clothes on! I just want to go to dinner and a bartenders-in-vests cocktail bar or two I don’t also want to lose an extremity to the wiles of winter!

Also why is everything tight. Why is everything a bodysuit?? I’m not swimming the Channel I’m ordering a young Pinot Noir! I’m looking through scores of items typically worn by a dominatrix while being paid handsomely for her work and I simply can’t feel confident about my ability to exit a Lyft in any one of them.

Where is my solace, I ask you? I can’t take myself seriously in clothing that looks like the dog ate half of it nor am I ready to shop at stores reserved for the ladies who monitor standardized testing. I don’t know where I belong or what to wear when I get there and I feel adrift in a sea of very restricting and difficult to care for fabrics.

In the end, I know I’ll go with a deep-v black henley high waisted jean black evening bag on a gold chain and chunky heeled sock boot. I’ll wing my eyeliner and dry shampoo my hair and hope to heaven there’s been time for a nap that day. Because all of these things are what make me feel comfortable. And if I’m not comfortable, there will never be “a night” anywhere that I’ll be able to enjoy. That’s what you know when you’re 37 that never crossed your mind ten years prior, no matter how much your feet hurt while wearing a dress that didn’t allow you to sit down. Oh yes, I had my time. Don’t weep for me.

If you are still in the phase of your life that requires double-stick tape, I applaud you. I was you, once. I don’t regret that time, and I’m not sad about progressing to this time, I just wish there was one retailer who’d grown up with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to spend my day making soup, editing my podcast, and reading a book. And if you’re spending yours removing hand stamps and wristbands and frantically retracing the steps of your debit card, that’s fine too. Because I bet you all the high heels on the high street that no matter what sort of “a night” we each had, on this Sunday morning we’re all wearing the same thing.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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