Wear Beige!

By Erika Hoffman

When I went to my pal’s son’s wedding, I noticed she wore a tan gown. In the receiving line, I commented to her, “I see you got the memo about the mother of the groom’s apparel.”

“Dang right!” replied Susan. “Show up, shut up and wear beige!” We laughed. “Your turn is coming soon.”

So when I went to shop for my outfit for the upcoming nuptials of my son, I sought brown dresses. The saleslady said, “Oh pooh! You can wear any color you want.”

“Really?” I asked.

“As long as it doesn’t clash with the bridesmaids,” she amended.

“They’re wearing blue.”

“Of course, you can’t wear the same color dress as the mother of the bride,” she added.


“Jewel tones. You’ll want a jewel tone.”


She pulled out a tiered looking dress that had one bouncy layer after another. “This will look great on you!” she gushed.

“But, it’s pink!”

“Fushia. It’s your color.”

“Won’t the ruffles make me look even fatter?”

“Naw.” She dismissed my doubts with conviction. “It will mask your cleavage.”

I studied the dress with the V strap as the only strap holding it up. “But, I’d have to wear a strapless bra,” I said.


“They’re uncomfortable.”

She waved her hand dismissing my protests and ushered me to the dressing room, and I, like a lamb to the slaughter, followed. My pal Laura accompanied me which was a good thing. I had instructed her ahead of time not to let me get talked into anything. This was a listening tour, I told her. I am just window shopping. I don’t want to buy the first thing I try on at the first shop we visit the way I did when I got married. I cautioned my friend that I am very susceptible to a sales pitch and will purchase whatever they show me. I ordered her not to let me do it. Laura understood and assured me she wouldn’t let that happen. Laura was a strict school teacher and a good pal to me for decades; I trusted that she’d stop me from pulling out my plastic prematurely. I also knew she’d tell me the candid truth. “Now don’t let my buy something that’s going to make me look silly or fat or pretentious or not age—appropriate or difficult to get into.” My list of unacceptable attire went on!

Then, I stepped into the flappy, eye-poppingly bright dress and pulled it up. Amazing! It didn’t look silly. It slenderized. It didn’t make me a doppelganger for Queen Elizabeth or make me look like some old broad pretending to be Britney Spears’ age. Of course, the saleslady stepped back in admiration and smiled, overtly pleased with her good eye at picking something off the rack for a complete stranger. I didn’t want to give my hand away and show that I liked the way I looked. So I turned to Laura, my rock, and I kept my lips downturned.

“Well, what do you think, Laura?”

She walked around me. She squinted in the mirror at my reflection. She touched the dress and straightened it a bit in the back. And then, Laura said, “Perfect.”

“Really?” I asked stealing another glance at myself.


“Should I try on another dress?” I asked my friend.

“Sure. But I don’t think you are going to find one that looks better.”

“I like the color. I won’t have to worry about a necklace since the glittery V halter holds it up.”

“You need a strapless bra,” my friend said.

“It can be sewn directly into the dress when you have it altered,” added the saleslady. “You need strappy silver shoes. Try these.”

I put them on and felt like Cinderella.

“Gorgeous,” said Laura.

“They are comfy; that’s what I like,” I said.

“You need a spandex undergarment,” said Laura.

“Oh no! “ I uttered. “Those things are so tight they make me lose my cheerful personality!”

“You want to look perfect for the wedding!” said Laura.

“No one will be looking at me. They will be admiring the bride!”

“It’s not like you’re wearing beige, Erika!”

And so, I bought it, kit and caboodle! And like almost every day in my life, I learned something: Trust experts in the field. Don’t follow all the old adages completely. When there is a decision to be made that you are afraid you will be impetuous about, take along a staid, thoughtful, methodical friend to ensure you look before you leap. If she too throws caution to the wind and later you think you made a big mistake, well…. Blame it all on your ol’ trusty friend! What are friends for, after all?

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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One Response to “Wear Beige!”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    An addendum to my bio: A new anthology has come out called Not Your Mother’s Book, which focuses on humorous stories. I’m in the editions : on being a woman, on travel, and on parenting.

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