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Su Lum: Dressing up

My daughter Hillery and her husband, Bruce, are taking Bruce’s parents and me on a cruise to the Bahamas in November. None of us has ever cruised before, but my daughter Skye, who cruised to Alaska with her family and her husband, Steve’s, parents, says we will love it.

I remember Skye shopping in preparation for her cruise, so my first question was, “Do I have to dress up?” and was told absolutely not, this was totally casual, from which I inferred that my Teva sandals and Land’s End T-shirts would be just fine.

But an impending cruise is a little like a wedding: You think you’re just going to invite a few friends, and suddenly it gets out of hand.



I blame it on Bruce, whose wardrobe consists of jeans and a couple of tuxedos from his past life as a ballroom dancer. When Hillery (who loves to dress up with bangles, spangles and wild hairdos) started reading the cruise literature about the option of a couple of formal dinners, Bruce got out the tuxedos and suddenly realized that he didn’t have anything between Fred Astaire and Levi’s, and went to Denver to get fitted for a suit. Not so much for the cruise, but so that if anyone died he’d have something to wear to the funeral.

Bruce got the suit, and that started the ball rolling. Last Saturday, Hillery and Skye convened at my house to assess my cruise wardrobe inven-




tory. Knowing that my inventory was basically ZIP, they arrived armed with Skye’s cruise wear from the Alaska trip and the fruits of an all-day shopping trip Hillery had made to Denver.

If you’re going to have to dress up, there’s no better way to try on long dresses, black skirts and beaded pant suits than in the comfort of your own home, while your daughters lean back with their arms crossed over their chests, rocking from one foot to the other, and pronouncing, “No, too frumpy … no, not formal enough,” then tossing them to be untangled and rehung on the living room curtain rod in “yes,” “maybe” and “definitely not” groupings.

Hillery even found some safety pins, after rejecting my suggestion of paper clips, and marked pants for hemming. I thought this must be how Michael Jackson shops.

Then they whipped through my closet, and I mean whipped! Zip, zip, zip, and the total take was a couple of marginally acceptable pants, shirts and nightgowns. What we affectionately refer to as “the dress” (surely it couldn’t be 20 years old!) did not make the cut.

They made a list of things to shop for in New Jersey when Skye and my granddaughter Riley go there to visit my mother next week: shorts, shoes, shirts, unders, scarves – lord knows where this will end. I draw the line at ear piercing.

I like the idea of a cruise. Everyone says that once you get on the boat you just relax, and I know that is true of trains, but you definitely don’t have to dress up on trains.

[Su Lum is a longtime local who will have to take a steamer trunk. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]


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