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Farewell to my halter-top years

Somewhere on the downward slope of my 50s, I wandered into a boutique much beloved by the fashion crowd, and was talked into buying my first halter top. I found it on the bargain rack, where clothes end up that you have to be mad or a model to wear. The plunging neckline said “Cher on a bad night.” The fabric, white eyelet, said, “Eight-year-old’s birthday party.” The sales clerk said, “It’s so cute on, and you’ve got the body for it.”

Cute? Bad sign. Still, I’m a sucker for flattery. I like to think I’m not so much older as bolder, with the toned triceps to carry off now what I wouldn’t have attempted in my indolent, angst-ridden 20s. So what if my face has become a little craggy? I’ve earned the right to dress as I damn well please.

The halter top had its first outing on the candlelit terrace of a tennis club that prizes tradition. I was running late for dinner when it struck me that I didn’t have a suitable bra–that indeed no such bra exists. I would have to tape the halter to my breasts. Lucky me, I had just the thing: a bumper supply of the stuff bald guys use to hold their toup?es in place. As a veteran of a magazine photo shoot or two, I’d seen the pros conceal drooping hems and wayward bra straps with a deft swipe of Top Stick. But that steamy night of the halter’s debut, it would have taken Grace Coddington’s touch to affix the thing to my skin. I pressed gummy wads of tape all over my bosom but by mid-evening they were all on display every time I reached for my wine glass. Was I wearing the halter top, or was it wearing me?

In my feckless youth, I put up with fashion tyranny. My favourite outfit for a long-ago summer job was a flowered mini-dress so skimpy that picking up a dropped paper clip required a killer fitness maneuver–the deepest of lunges, with a rigidly straight back. My personal trainer wouldn’t dare inflict this on me, but the mini-dress did every day. It took me years to learn that the keepers in my wardrobe are the ones that let me live my life. But sometimes I forget.

I might have given the halter top one more whirl. Possibly even two. What I can tell you for certain is that in three years we moved twice, and each time it somehow survived the obligatory purge of my closet. Out went designer skirts too tight to eat in, a beaded scarf so heavy it hurt my neck, and the silver-heeled, blue suede shoes in which I could barely stand, let alone stride. I kept thinking the perfect day would come for a white eyelet halter top, but I every time I reached for something else instead. Last week I rolled the halter into a plastic grocery bag and tossed it into a charity bin. May some young sylph wear it well. And if anyone out there could use some toup?e tape, my stash is up for grabs.

Click here to read a related post, “Hats of my life.”

Posted by Rona

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