quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Monday, December 29, 2008

but what shall I wear ...?

The fencing club dinner approaches. I don't go every year but this year. budgeting carefully, I chose it over the slightly more expensive work Christmas dinner. The food won't be so good (the venue has unadventurous ideas on what vegetarians eat) but I'll enjoy the company and won't feel compelled to be on my best behaviour. But this sets up a difficult problem. The dinner has a dress code.

Last year the rules were simple: no jeans or trainers. A simple blouse and skirt sufficed. But the committee, perhaps overpowered by the vision of elegance so many created last year, have come up with a stricter dress code. The man are asked to wear dinner jackets with bow ties or suits and ties. And the women are expected to turn up in cocktail dresses.

I don't have a cocktail dress. I don't even know what a cocktail dress is. I'm reluctant to purchase anything that sounds so extravagant in these cash-strapped times, especially since it might require the additional purchase of cocktail shoes, if such items exist. Nonetheless, I spent part of two days wandering in and out of shops, looking for second-hand items in charity shops or bargains in the sales.

It wasn't a success. I returned home from one excursion with two pairs of gloves (my hands were cold and there was a special offer of two pairs for £1). And I came home from the other carrying - with some difficulty - a new mop and broom. Perhaps I was inspired by thoughts of Cinderella. But I fear my fairy godmother's unlikely to appear.

I've been searching the internet for ideas. But although I've found pictures of cocktail dresses and women with swords, I haven't yet found the sort of cocktail dress that goes well with an epee. And the costume question is taking up far too much of my time.

I wonder if men have the same anxieties. Perhaps they all have decent suits and ties. (It might be more fun if women wore suits and men wore the cocktail dresses - I'd like to see them manage high heels and I'm sure the Oxfam shop would supply me with a suitable tie.) But, much as I admire the extravangant costumes of 17th century fencers, I also look back with nostalgia to an era where a fencer could wear casual clothes to fight with elegant courage - even in a great fortress.

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Anonymous Katie said...

judging by last year's dinner I do not think the non-vegetarians are that much better off.

But shoes are easy -- wear the ones I was admiring last week in the Vic.

6:26 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

That would mean finding a cocktail dress to match the shoes and I have a feeling that cocktail shoes are supposed to be little, strappy sandals with stiletto heels (though stilettos would be a nicely subtle reference to fencing).

Would you like my ticket? You plainly have clothes.

6:58 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

All of my clothes live in France.

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

and strappy sandals in winter make you look like an idiot.

9:54 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

I am not convinced that all your clothes live in France. I know I am unobservant but I feel the reactions of other drinkers in the Vic or at the gluehwein stall might have alerted me to your appearance, had you been entirely nude.

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Katie said...

Don't be silly -- I live in France too, but I still managed to be at the Vic. I expect some of my clothes (though sadly not any cocktail dresses) are simply having a holiday, submitting their PhDs, or doing some catsitting.

10:03 pm  
Blogger The Gray Epee said...

I think it speaks highly for me that I am of no help with the cocktail dress problem.

12:19 am  
Blogger Pam said...

Has this event been? If so, what did you wear?I don't do cocktail dresses and strappy shoes either.

3:50 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

The event is still to occur and fortunately I have found an elderly black wool dress at the back of my wardrobe. I think I can make it look slightlier fancier by adding a sparly shawl. Do you think that will do?

5:28 pm  

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