Monday, January 25, 2010

The Woman in Red

RO: I'm going to my first RT Booklover's Convention this April and no sooner did I click Send on the registration form than I went out and bought a red dress. Unless you know me, this might not seem like a significant event but ninety-five percent of the items in my closet are black. There's a blue suit and a brown dress and a lilac one-shouldered number that I had to buy because it's Armani and was on sale, and it looked terrific on me eight years ago when I bought it but it's never been worn outside of my closet. (Did I mention it has sequins?) I don't know what possessed me.

I'd gone to Macy's to buy a bra (forget Victoria's Secret Macy's has the best selection on the planet.) Anyway, bras are on the sixth floor and some marketing genius must have realized that by having only escalators (and no elevators) in the building a shopper would have to pass lots of other merchandise they aren't really looking for on the way to the thing they are looking for. There it was, on the fourth floor. Red. Sleeveless. On sale. And calling to me. It's one of those dresses that seems to have a shape even before you slip it on. Does everyone weigh an extra pound or two in January? I was risking a depressing sight in the harsh light of the dressing room, but I had to see what it looked like on.

It was a miracle. The dress held me in where I needed to be held in. It flared out where I did. (I'm no waif.) Was I really going to buy a red dress?
I flashed on the scene in Gone with the Wind when
Scarlett goes to Miss Melly's house in a slutty red
dress that Belle Watling might have worn. ("And put on plenty of rouge, I want you to look the part!")
And Bette Davis daring to wear red to the Olympus ball. (It doesn't help her win back Henry Fonda...look at him, he looks miserable. "I'm thinking of a woman named ...Jezebel!")

Some years back I was sipping a drink at a bar on NYC's upper west side and Christopher Walken told me I would look good in a red dress. Was I finally buying one? (Should I go back and look for him if I do?)

I'd read that attendees at RT (formerly called the Romantic Times Convention) dress with a certain, shall we say, flair? Daring? Did I have enough confidence to pull off a red dress? And in that crowd? What the heck, worst case scenario it will keep the lilac dress company at the back of my closet.I'm pretty sure I've seen Hank in a red dress, and of course she looked smashing.

What about the rest of you? Do you feel powerful in red?

JAN: I don't look good in red, unless its kind of orangey, which is a pretty ugly color. Mercifully, they don't make cocktail dresses in that shade.. But if Christopher Walken (I'm the only woman in the world who ever had a crush on him) told me to put on a red dress, I would.
But you've got the coloring for red. So wear it without apology. No big deal, really, you've just been living in Manhattan too long wearing black.

HALLIE: Red is my color. I love love love it, and over the years have had many red dresses. One was a red chiffon shirtwaist (that's how long ago) cocktail dress. Many Halloweens ago we made its flowy circle skirt into a devil's cape for my daughter.
Red makes you feel powerful. It's like being an exclamation point instead of an elipses. ENJOY!
ROBERTA: I love red, too, Ro. And Jan's right, you've got just the coloring for wearing it. And you must trust me on this: however far out you might feel with a red dress on, you will be dressed conservatively compared to many at Romantic Times! I went once, more as an observer and writer than a participant. It was amazing to see people checking in with scads of luggage and dress bags--different formal gowns and costumes for each night's ball.
Go ahead and wear that red--and take the lilac dress too, just in case.
RHYS: Rosemary, you'll look good in red and you're right. You have to make a statement at RT. You'll be amazed at the way some of the women dress up--sequins, feather boas, not to mention bustiers.
RO: Now...bustiers I can get into...I have quite a collection..this could be fun.
RHYS: Unfortunately I do NOT have the coloring to wear red, or black. I look like La Traviata in the third act in either color. I'm definitely a spring--pastels, beige, maybe a daring mid green or blue. I do have a fabulous red leather blazer--the softest lambskin. That was bought on impulse, and on sale, in Macy's simply because it felt so soft. It is that red in the blue spectrumso it looks okay on me--and I usually wear a white shirt or turtleneck under it.
But I do have several impulse buys in my closet that are totally wrong for me and have never seen the light of day, but I can't admit my failure. I'm currently debating what to wear as toastmaster at Malice this year. Can't upstage Mary Higgins Clark!
RO: Any interest in a lilac, one-shouldered dress? Never worn?
HANK: Oh, yes, red dresses--well, there is a certain something. And not just red dresses. Red anything. You know Helen Thomas used to wear red suits to White House press conferences so she'd stand out. Wasn't it President Nixon who called her the Lady in Red? Something like that. (And how many movies and songs hve The Lady in Red or some such as a title?)
Check out crowd scenes in movies or on T--you can always see the people in red. And RO, I was riveted by Bette Davis in Jezebel. "You can't wear red to the cotillion!" And it completely ruins her life. Luckily, although I saw that movie in my formative years, it didn't affect my grown-up clothing choices.

Can't wait to see the photo of you in your red!
RO: Maybe we all (except for Rhys) should wear red to Malice this year..


  1. A few years ago, I remember a seeing a full-page ad in Time Out: New York that was a closet full of "spring colors in New York." Everything was black.

    I agree with Roberta - take the Armani, too. Sounds like you'll have a couple of nights of dressy events there anyway. Heaven forbid you wear the same outfit to each. :)

  2. Isn't it funny how the movie Jezebel was in black and white? And still, in my mind, that dress is red. Lovely to see that picture.

    And of course I meant "on TV," in my paragraph. Not on "T." Whatever that would mean.

    Oh, RO, love the dress. It looks--tiny. And perfect!

  3. Ro - what a GREAT dress! It is darling and you'll look terrific. I agree with everyone else that you have the perfect coloring for red (Mr. Walken has a very good eye). I love red and have been adding it to my wardrobe a lot in recent years, and yes - it does make me feel as though I have a little "oomph," which I desperately need with this silver hair and beyond the pale skin of mine.

    But sleeveless? I can't do that. Not on your life. You, on the other hand, can carry that off perfectly (and I hate you for it!)
    naaaah - I don't hate you for it, but I am jealous.


  4. Put me in the column of loving red. But this post seems to beg the question: How did Jungle Red get its name?

    Jan, I will arm-wrestle you for Christopher Walken. I love him.

  5. I have a fabulous long red floaty scarf. I can wear that to Malice to be in solidarity!

  6. Hubby told me I needed a red "power suit" when I was managing my first conference (because so much of what I had to do was tell people they screwed up and owed money!).

    I did get 1 red formal gown for a cruise. But Red's not my favorite allover color. I have some spiffy red heels and a red purse for those 'pops' of color.

  7. I've never been to the RT conference, and just once to Malice. Sounds like great fun.

  8. Ramona,
    You are on, girl!!!

    (actually just glad to have weird crush validated!!)

    It started with Deer Hunter, and didn't falter, even when he played the Continental Man on SNL. (quite a test of crush loyalty)

  9. Oh and Ramona - Jungle Red comes from the movie THE WOMEN. It's the color nail polish the women wear when they take out their claws to gossip.

  10. I remember Christopher Walken from Annie Hall...he played the crazy brother who said he sometimes wanted to drive his car right into the headlights of an oncoming vehicle - then he offered to drive Woody Allen to the train station.
    Yes the dress is tiny..I will have to ease up on the waffles if I expect to wear it. hallie...really no Malice? I nominated your book for an Agatha, darlin' maybe you shouldn't plan anything for that weekeend! would look breathtaking in red..think Helen Mirren.
    Okay, you gals are inspiring me.

  11. A-ha, thanks for the explanation, Jan. Very fitting. I have often wondered.

    Since you brought up SNL skits, I suggest the winner of the Christopher Walken challenge gets a cowbell.

  12. Did y'all remember or see the music video Christopher Walken did for Fatboy Slim a few years ago?

    Suave and smooth. :)

  13. Thanks, Ro! Hey, you never now. I have always like Christopher Walken, too... very edgy and apparently a truly nice human being, if the gossips are to be trusted.

  14. The red dress will be perfect.

    Someone once told me that everyone should own a red car at least once in their life. Maybe a red dress, too?

    I don't own but a couple of dresses. No red.

    The stories about the shenanigans that go on at RT scare me. Have fun!

  15. You would look terrific in red! I love red and wear it lots. Best advice I read (a couple of years ago) said that it is vital to match the lipstick (as in blue tones or brown tones). And then, if you're wearing eye-poppin' red lipstick, to not wear much other makeup so as to not look like a clown. I saw Kaye in red on FB and she looks fab!

  16. I read once that people who own red cars are more likely to get you think that has more to do with the cops asuming a red car is going faster or the driver feeling the need for speed?

    Christopher Walken..where are you, you've got a fan base here??

  17. Rhonda, THanks for the YOUTUBE Link. Now I'm HOPELESSLY in love.

    very funny. And sort of Fred Astaireish, no?