Mission: Be Stylish

4 Feb


I’m sprawled out on the floor of the Mystery Abode living room, surrounded by piles of gathered intelligence. I stare at the pages scattered on my floor with a furrowed brow. I know the answer lies in here somewhere. I just have to find it.

In a small black notebook, I scribble notes for myself. Observations to take with me, into the field. A jumbled report on seasonal colors, hemline lengths and silhouettes. Accessories and fabrics. I’m on a hunt. A mission, if you will. Jenny G: International Woman of Mystery is going dress shopping.

A funny thing has happened since moving to Denver. Despite the International Woman of Mystery’s innate desire to exude personal style, it seems a bit of the opposite has happened. I’ve fallen into the attire trap that is Midwestern casual. I’ve assimilated to the ways of jeans and t-shirts and mismatched layers of warmth. It’s an easy mode to default to, by virtue of cold winter days and a local culture that accepts it as the norm. However, if I want to persist in my transformation to worldly ingénue, I’ll need to up my fashion game.

So here I am, armed with old back issues of my favorite fashion magazines and a couple of Pinterest boards. Determined that I will find some new adornment to set the tone. My means are somewhat modest. Most of my extra income these days is being socked away in the travel fund. Exotic adventures on the distant horizon, I thought I might try to find some local inspiration instead. The IWOM’s arsenal is a multifaceted one, but by my estimation, it should include one truly great dress. I’ll choose the outfit and then surely adventure will follow.

I make my way to the local mall as soon as it opens, but quickly realize that the usual ilk of Forever 21 and H&M will not do. It’s a beautiful day and I’ve got some wind in my sails. Perhaps a bit more of en excursion is in order. I decide I’ll hit the road in my Mystery Mobile and explore outside the metropolitan area. To Boulder, I go! Though some Denverites like to chastise Boulder for its ‘trustafarian’ culture, I’ve also heard there is chicness to be found there. And anyway I’ve got nothing to lose. I say, why rely on hearsay when one can go exploring and find out for oneself?

Vail aside, this is my first day trip outside of Denver. I head toward the Flatiron Mountain Range, to my destination. It’s a lovely day and an even lovelier view as I approach Boulder. I can’t wait to see the town. Quick Internet research tells me I should hit up the Pearl Street Mall and it seems my sources are correct. The mall is ripe with little boutiques. In addition to coffee shops and other quirky local shops, the mall is also populated by street performers and artists peddling their wares. I’m taken with the scenery but I’ve also go work to do.

I try on quite a few dresses at a handful of places. The selection ranges from classic vintage to boho to urban gypsy. I’m taken by the charming window displays and artisan jewelry but nothing is quite fitting the bill for this mission. Most of the selection is more casual than cocktail. I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it. As I try on dress after dress, I’m plagued by a distant memory of purchasing a wedding gown. Jennifer knew what she wanted as soon as she saw it too, but that dress was all sequins and fluff. Jenny G. is more interested in clean lines and good construction.

The quintessential IWOM dress will be black, of course. Understated and sophisticated but with an interesting detail or two. Something that will allow me to stand out in a crowd, just enough, but not too much. Something elegant enough for a daring tango, but practical enough for a quick exit.

I’m nearing the end of the mall when my dress appears at last. A vision in a shop window, I spy it from across the street and am instantly taken. It’s perfect. Black. Sleeveless. With a high square neckline and a low slung, open back. The fabric looks expensive but comfortable. The type that will flatter each curve precisely. I enter the shop and refrain from demanding it, but instead politely ask to try it on.

A cheerful sales girl named Lu is kind enough to remove it from the window mannequin and set me up in a fitting room with a pair of heels. She offers me champagne, but Jenny G. is strictly business today. I decline and opt for a sparkling water instead. Zip up the dress and gasp. The dress is nearly perfect. It’s just a little long on my frame. I pop on the heels, but it’s still not quite right. When Lu returns with my water, I explain my plight to her. She directs me to a three-way mirror on the sales floor for further observation.

We both agree that the dress is too long. I feel my heart sinking when Lu cheerfully offers, “I do alterations. I can hem it right up for you today, free of charge. Just give me about an hour or so.” It’s an offer too good to refuse. I do a little spin in the mirror, and then nod in the affirmative.

“I’ll take it,” I say.

Lu makes quick work of taking my measurements and tells me she’ll call once the dress is ready. We exchange contact information and I head back out to the mall, where I figure I can kill a couple more hours. I’ve also got a fresh stack of calling cards burning a hole in my pocket. I’ll leave my mark, distributing a few cards around the mall, while Lu puts the finishing touches on my adventure dress.

True to her word, Lu rings me about an hour later and I return to pick up my dress. Another brief try-on confirms what I suspected all along. The dress is perfect. Now I just need an excuse to wear it.

As if reading my mind, Lu asks, “What’s the occasion anyway?”

I choke a little on my sparkling water. She seems nice enough, but we’ve only just become acquainted. I’m not sure if I can trust her with specifics. And anyway. I don’t actually have an answer. I’ll have to improv.

“Oh, I’m entertaining some out of town guests,” I lie. “Visitors from afar, who’ve never been to Colorado. We’ll be looking for something fabulous to do, if you’ve got any suggestions.”

“How fun!” Lu, exclaims. “You should take them up to Blackhawk!”

“Oh?” (I have no idea what she’s talking about.) “I’ve never been.”

“Oh you have to go!” She insists, “It’s like mini-Vegas up there. They’ve got a hotel with a rooftop pool and a spa. Lots of gambling, if you’re into that. It gets crazy on the weekends too. Super busy with tourists.”

Blackhawk. It even sounds adventurous, I think to myself. If I were thinking about James Bond these days, I’d reminisce on the sleek and stylistic Casino Royale. But I’m not thinking about James Bond, so I picture myself instead. Jenny G., in the long black dress. Cooly sipping a martini, while throwing down in a high stakes poker game.

I pay for my dress in a flash and say my thank you before hitting the road back to Denver.

Lu doesn’t know it, but she’s just inspired my next adventure.

Jenny G.


One Response to “Mission: Be Stylish”

  1. AlvaradoFrazier 02/04/2016 at 9:40 PM #

    Very adventurous of you & it’s always a good thing to have a special black dress. My daughter lives in Denver & bought most of her clothes at thrift shops her first year there (California clothes didn’t cut it for fall or winter). There is a consignment shop on Colfax (near Capitol Hill) not far from Voodoo Donuts that has some nice vintage pieces.

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