In 20 years I haven't changed a thing about my approach to buying
nearly everything second hand, making it my own, reinventing what
personal style means. I have dedicated myself to fashion without ever
looking to magazines or books for help. I have dedicated my body to be
a canvass, a color palette, a target for material. I am a slave to a
"perfect" dress, a perfect pink shell top, a kitschy vintage pin, a
large and gorgeous clutch, a hot pair of heels, an accordion skirt in
an interesting color.
Long time readers will recall that I have a penchant for dating out of towners. I’m trying to go localvore for awhile, but there is something uniquely thrilling about traveling for a long-anticipated date.
I had such a date earlier this year. It was in a colder climate. I was staying with a good friend of mine and going to go on a coffee date with an internet friend I had never met in real life. We agreed to coffee ahead of time, to ease the pressure, and then a check in about whether we wanted to be on a “date-date.” If we did, we would proceed to dinner or something, if not I would go back to my friend’s house.
This brought about a significant fashion dilemma for me. I like to know what activity is in store for me on a date so that I can dress appropriately. There is nuance in what kind of garment I wear for different occasions and I certainly see a vast distinction between what I would wear on a coffee date and a dinner date.
Typically, I like to wear one of two dresses on a first date. I am very consistent about this because dating is enough of a hassle that I don’t want to stress out about what to wear. 9 out of 10 of my first dinner dates involve one of these dresses. They travel easily (again, see above regarding long distance), they are flattering and appropriate for evening wear.
The blue and brown dress, often paired with boots when it is cold or blue patent leather heels. I am pictured here femmeceeing the date auction fundraiser for the Lesbian Love Octagon.
The red dress. Here I am photographed with my friend Regan who is a chef. I know my readers enjoy the butches. She is wearing gingham on gingham because she knows I like someone with the fashion huevos to pair pattern on pattern. And I enjoy gingham. Typically I pair this dress with red or black (or red and black) heels or boots in the winter. It also makes for a great post-performance dress. Also on a date I would not be wearing teal sparkly hair bling or (as much) glittery make-up.
The red dress is so ubiquitous I couldn’t even find a photo of it and needed to stage this shoot the other night after a lesbolesque performance. It is Torrid, I bought it at least six years ago. It has aged very well. The blue and brown dress I bought on ebay three years ago from a seller whose inventory exclusively consists of a plus size mannequin so I can only guess they are out of business.
My friend Elisabeth said in shock “You give them that much cleavage on a first date?” And I replied that yes, I believe my cleavage to be a gift from the goddess so I like to share.
I think it’s really important to be as authentic as possible on a first date. Also on any subsequent date. Don’t pretend to like sports if you don’t to impress someone. This is basic but it is amazing how many people I’ve dated who aren’t real with me and really amazing friends of mine who have fallen into the same “I want you to like me” impulse. I just heard a story about a professor getting her research assistants to burn her the latest hits so she wouldn’t have to admit to my friend that her favorite music was easy listening!
In the spirit of authenticity, I think it is important to dress in a way that expresses who I am. But, of course, there is that fine line between “darling of the paparazzi” Bevin and “dinner date” Bevin. Just like there is a fine line between “coffee date with an old internet friend I have a crush on” and “dinner date with an old internet friend I have auditioned and want to have grown-up time with.”
I told this dilemma to my friend and guru Damien Luxe and her answer was so simple it was genius. “Put a change of clothes in your purse and, after the coffee date, change.”
At first I hesitated. It felt sort of high maintenance to change in the middle of a date. But then I thought about my post about redefining high maintenance and reminded myself that I am a professional Femmecee and burlesque performer. I can change clothes in about 2 minutes flat (and do make-up and hair in 10) if I want to. Plus, changing during a date is a very authentic Bevin thing to do. Something I wouldn’t think twice about doing if I was out with friends.
I had to re imagine my purse for the afternoon/evening and opted for the travel-friendly leopard tote bag that has been serving me since I studied for the bar exam. It artfully hid my dress. I chose the red dress as I thought it packed a little more “wow” factor. And if I was going to secret change, I thought I should bring as much wow as possible.
The coffee date went very well and just before we left for dinner, I pardoned myself to go to the restroom. As it was winter, my shoes stayed the same (tights and black snow boots), and I changed into the dress. I put my coat on and my date had no idea until we arrived at the restaurant that I had changed. She was stunned and commented on it profusely.
That remains one of my favorite fashion moments of any date I’ve ever been on. The reception the gesture got only further reinforced how important it is to bring my real self on dates and never hesitate to express myself.