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Am I too old to wear that?

I had a customer in the shop last week tell me that she read an article, which said that women should not wear shorts after age 30. Um, yeah. I’m calling bologna on that! I would call it something else, but I shall refrain.

Why should you NOT wear shorts after 30? Because according to someone our legs are not as smooth and tight as they were at 20? Or because after 30 we should cover ourselves to save the public from the fact that we are human?

I am a firm believer that you should wear what you want to wear as long as YOU are comfortable in it. I do not think you are too old to wear anything as long as it is worn tastefully. Now, will we see the mature woman (or any age for that matter) wearing a “butt tickler”, meaning a skirt or shorts so short that her bum is hanging out the back? Of course we will. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a pair of shorts that are comfortable – I don’t think I need to define that. So what if you have a few veins on your legs. If you live anywhere in a warmer climate, you will beg for a pair of shorts.

And it is not simply shorts that I hear about. Here at Black Petticoat, we have clothes for all walks of life. We believe any woman should be able to find and wear clothes to express her inner and outer beauty. When someone stops in, and her first comment is, “these clothes are too young for me” and she is probably no more than 50? That makes me a little sad, because I have to wonder if somewhere along the line someone told her hey, you cannot wear shorts after 30. Seriously? I completely understand if you do not like my style, the clothes, etc. But bottom line? DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Don’t look longingly at a coat, try it on, fall in love with it, and then say I guess it is too young for me. A coat?! I am referring to our lace overlay coat we had in the shop. It was a stunningly feminine coat, something you could wear with jeans and heels or to the theatre. When did coats become tagged with age limits?!

Again, if you do not like certain types of clothing, that is OK by me. But if you actually like something, but you think others will wonder what you were thinking? Life is too short my fellow sisters – dress to express yourself. If you are happy with it, go for it!

White Tie - Black Tie - Black Tie Optional - Cocktail - What do you wear?

Let me start by saying that I am a dyed in the wool traditionalist.  I love a Black Tie event.  White Tie even better.  It is an opportunity to dress for a fairytale for a night.    I do not believe that a pants suit and a Valentino gown that would make Old Hollywood drool should be at the same event.  Having said that, why is it confusing as to what to wear?  I think it is because you do, in fact, see a pants suit in the same room with a Valentino gown.  People wear just about anything today, and that is precisely what causes the confusion - a dumbing down of formality.  But why do that, when this should be an exciting occasion?!

White Tie - hold on to your hats, because this is the height of formality.  There is no higher dress code - it is the crème da la crème.    Your best ball gown combined with your best jewelry, the "up" hairstyle, the fanciest coat (if winter) that you own or can find.  White gloves if you have them. 

Black Tie - You want to look like the woman with James Bond on her arm.  This is the chance to wear your full length gown, not just a "long dress".  Think "exquisite".  A shorter formal cocktail dress is acceptable, but why?!  Again, I am a traditionalist.  Black Tie means gown, not cocktail.

Black Tie Optional - Is this really a way for the event host to wimp out and not go full Black Tie?  I don't know, but Oscar Wilde said it best, "you can never be overdressed or overeducated."  Stick with Black Tie, and you will be the belle of the ball. 

Cocktail - Now you can pull out that shorter dress.  NOT MINI dress, however.  Cocktail is the knee length area.  Think the shorter styles of Sue Wong.  If the fancy short dress is not in the wardrobe or budget, the little black dress is acceptable, but be sure to dress it up with jewelry, shoes, etc. 

Are gowns expensive? Yes, they certainly can be. However, if you are a bargain hunter, you may be amazed at what you can find at the finer consignment shops. I have found several stunning gowns including a Teri Jon.

Above all else, make sure you enjoy yourself! Make sure you can move, sit, stand and dance in your chosen attire. Don’t forget the power of your hairstyle. And at the end of the night, if you are the only one in the room that followed the traditional dress code? Good on you! You will feel your best, and that will make for a fabulous night!

The Very Low Cut Dress - How to avoid an R rated situation

Many of us at one time or another have spied the perfect dress, and it shows off our figures exactly the way we want to look.  The only issue?  The low cut V neck.  You know that you will not be wearing a traditional bra with it because of the cut.  You have to come up with a solution, because after all, it is the perfect dress. 

The solution? Toupee tape.  Yep, that's correct.  I have personally danced the night away using it without one single R rated issue!  If your dress, for example, is a wrap, and you are exposed down to the area below your bust line?  Toupee tape. Place the tape far enough from the opening so that you can secure it in more than one place across your chest.  I have used two pieces on each side.  Then press the dress to the tape.  Make sure the placement of the tape does not change the way the dress hangs across your chest - buckles, etc.  If it does, try again.  Once you have it placed where you like it, you are ready for your night on the town!

You can find toupee tape at many beauty supply stores, online, of course, and at some hair salons.  If you give this a go, let Black Petticoat know how it worked.  We would love to hear your stories about the wonders of making the perfect dress ROCK! 

Why "Black Petticoat"?

The Culper Spy Ring, formed during the Revolutionary War, was the beginning of espionage in America.  Black petticoats hung on wash lines were used as signals.  

www.spymuseum.com provides an excellent description:

The Culper Spy Ring was established in 1778 by Benjamin Tallmadge under the orders of General George Washington. The ring was tasked with the mission of spying on the British Army and reporting on troop movements, positions, fortifications and plans in the New York area. The ring continued to operate until the end of the war in 1783.

In 1776, American spy Nathan Hale was hung after being caught by the British. Washington therefore determined to provide greater support to the Culper spy ring. The ring would use elaborate codes and aliases as well as dead drops and invisible ink in the course of their activities. Tallmadge (who went by the code name John Bolton) tapped two men for the task, Abraham Woodhull, a farmer from Setauket, New York and Robert Townsend, a merchant from Manhattan (Woodhull’s code name was Samuel Culper, Sr. and Townsend’s was Samuel Culper, Jr.).

Tavern keeper Austin Roe served as a courier and Caleb Brewster took the information on his ferry boat across the Long Island Sound where it was taken to General Washington. Anna Strong, the wife of a Long Island Patriot judge, would use her laundry as a way of signaling times and locations for the spies to meet. She would hang a black petticoat on the clothesline to indicate that Brewster was in town and available to ferry messages. She would then hang between one and six handkerchiefs on the line next to the petticoat in order to indicate the particular spot in which Brewster could be found.

Another unidentified member of the ring was referred to as 355. 355 was believed to have passed along information garnered from Major John Andre and Benedict Arnold and she was believed to have been arrested and taken to the HMS Jersey where she was questioned and would later die after giving birth to a child.

The manner in which the ring operated was ingenious according to the conventions and limitations of the day. It was operated in such secrecy that even General Washington did not know the identity of many of the key players. Townsend ran a dry goods store and also was the society reporter of a local American newspaper. His job as a reporter gave him access to British soldiers and functions without arousing suspicion. Roe would often drop by Townsend store and purchase goods as well as dropping off a special order from a Mr. Bolton.

After taking his goods he would leave and Townsend would go to an adjoining building and read the “request” and write a response. When Roe would come back to the adjoining building, Townsend would stuff his answers in with Roe’s goods. Roe would then ride by horseback more than 100 miles where he would leave the message in a dead drop box located in the middle of a field belonging to Woodhull. Woodhull would evaluate the information (sometimes adding to it) and then look across the bay at Strong’s signals to determine Brewster’s hiding place. Later that evening, Woodhull would find Brewster and give him the information. Brewster would then row across the water to Fairfield, Connecticut where he would meet with Tallmadge to deliver the messages, which would then be forwarded to Washington. The Culper Ring operated under constant pressure from Washington to obtain information but operated from even more pressure not to get caught by the British. Despite this, the ring is believed to have been the most successful on either side of the Revolutionary War. Of note, the group is believed to have played a central part in discovering the treachery of Benedict Arnold and to have learned of the British plans to ambush a unit of the French army arriving in Rhode Island (the consequences of which could have been devastating to the French and American newly-formed alliance).


- Found at www.spymuseum.com.