Becoming a Lady

Two weeks ago, I had a night out with the ladies at the Annual Junior League Fundraiser. And now that I have some experience being a lady, I fit right in. 

I've received quite a few questions and fielded a number of comments about my references to becoming a lady. Let me explain. . . 

I grew up as a tomboy. I shared clothes with my brother clear through high school, without ever realizing that was a problem. When I got married, I got rid of most of my boys clothes. (Remember when Steve gave me a pair of Carhartts as a wedding gift?) Before you judge, I just want you to know that it's not always fun being tall. 

It's not just that I'm tall, but I have an unusually long torso, so it can be difficult to find clothes that fit me well. For a long time, I thought it was just too hard to dress stylishly. 

And then there's the part when I spent the first five years of my marriage pregnant and sick and the next five years undergoing a long series of surgeries. Fashion wasn't really my priority. And can you believe that my favorite sister tried to nominate me for What Not to Wear on the basis that I almost always wore black, brown, or grey?

Although I am technically a stay-at-home mom (more accurately, a drive-around-town-mom), I am also a member of a number of organizations and boards (PTA, Junior League Board of Directors, etc.) and go to quite a few meetings and other functions.

I was started to feel under-dressed. Because eighty percent of the time I was wearing my standard "mom uniform", consisting of jeans, my used-to-be-favorite-until-they-changed-the-cut Old Navy tee, and a hooded jacket. (It doesn't help that Steve almost always wears suit pants and a dress shirt.)

Well, a couple of years ago, my style-conscious daughters started classifying how I was dressed. There were three categories:

Babysitter: hair in ponytail, includes hoodies, sneakers, means I haven't tried hard enough.
Bank Teller: dressed up like the ladies who work at the bank, means I look nice.
Salt Lake Mom: dressed in stylish clothes, without necessarily being as formal as the "Bank Teller" look.

These became regular household terms in our home. But then there was one day when Rachel told me she just wanted me to look like a lady. So, a few months before I turned 30, I announced that it was time: I was ready to become a lady.

I enlisted the help of some friends and my family.

-We went through my closet and got rid of all of those clothes that I had no business wearing. Like the brown corduroy pants that can be seen in this post.

-I took some hair lessons from Amanda.

-Angela painted my fingernails and my toenails. Bright red. (Apparently, she failed to coach me on how to hold my fingers to take a proper, lady-like photo of them.)

-Heidi gave me a certificate for a make up application lesson from Alex Crabtree.

-Angela went shopping with me at Ume on 25th Street and helped me pick out some new clothes. Of course, I was drawn to everything that was brown or grey, so she finally told me that if I thought I liked it, that probably meant I shouldn't be buying it.

On January, 28, 2012, I turned 30 and became a lady.

A few weeks after my birthday, I attended the 2012 Junior League Annual Fundraiser. If there was ever such a thing as a test of being a lady, this was mine.

I went to Endless Indulgence on 25th Street and picked out a red dress to wear to the 1960's cocktail-themed fundraiser. And bought my very first pair of bona fide high heeled shoes: 

Amanda worked her magic on my hair, and I even wore my pearls!

And then I finally made my debut as a lady. Steve was too busy on his phone to notice: 

Just kidding. But by the time he got off the phone, I forgot to smile: 

Over the last year, I've done a pretty good job keeping up with my new fashion rules. But every once in a while, Rachel and Lucy have to keep me in line, "Mom, I thought you were a lady now?

For this year's fundraiser, I knew the drill. Buy an expensive dress, buy high heels, and talk Amanda into doing my hair. She's pretty amazing.

Two weeks ago, I went to the Annual Junior League Fundraiser:

With this guy: 

Have I ever mentioned how glad I am that Steve finally conceded and cut his hair?

Steve was more of just an escort. He took me to Union Station, made an appearance, and then left me with these ladies while he went to the Priesthood Session of General Conference.

We were feeling all sorts of famous. And I was feeling all sorts of tall. They always have me stand on low ground to even things out. A little.

Next year, I will take posture lessons from Janelle: 

I went ahead and took a picture of my friends without me. You know. . . so I would actually like it. Ha. 

Their pose is almost identical to this picture, taken inside Union Station later in the evening:

Junior League members were invited to wear red, but Steve couldn't see any point in buying another red dress. . . Plus, I'm supposed to save my new black gown to wear to his funeral.

Here are some other pictures from the night: 

I'm trying to recall the exact dialogue that took place during this series of photos. I think Janelle insisted that I be in a picture, so we tried to pose for one. And then Sherry said something like, "We need to get closer so we look like friends." And added, "Or are you afraid that I'm going to bite your ear off like in New York?"

Here's a closer look at the hand motion that somehow goes along with "bite your ear off": 

And then Heidi commented that she always feels strange standing next to me in pictures because she is so much shorter than me that her face is aligned with my chest. And she doesn't want to look like she's biting anything in that region. (She's not actually that short.) But do you see why I have a hard time standing up straight for pictures?!?

I think this is my favorite picture of the night. Because it sure looks like they are having fun. . . 

. . . even if our sleeved dresses and the lack of alcohol in our cups made us stand out a little. Or maybe a lot?

I have some good friends. And some good news. . . The fundraiser won't be on General Conference weekend next year, so get ready for a night out with our husbands.


Rebecca said...

You look gorgeous! I especially love your makeup! I want to see a close-up of those red shoes.

Kayli said...

I resent this post! Just kidding, I really don't, but still-- I wear the Babysitter every single day, and only wear gray and black, and curling my hair takes a million years, so I've done that maybe twice in the last year. And dressing up is so much less COMFORTABLE! ;)

Anyway, you look very lovely as a lady, and it's a good thing to aspire to be a lady- so good job!

i'm h.mac said...

Shoot! We sure have a good time together dont we? And by the looks of it, we were acting like our cups were full ofsomething. The claw, sherry holding you up......

Stephanie Dirks said...


Shafferprincess said...

WOW, Emily!! :) I LOVE the black dress. You look absolutely gorgeous, and most definitely like a lady!

Karen said...

I never stand up straight in pictures with friends either. I always feel like a giant. It is a good thing we have tall husbands.

Courtney said...

You are beautiful, Emily! I need you and your friends to come to my house next! I could use some lesson ;)

Lucinda said...

I read this post a several days ago and wanted to comment but didn't. I've been thinking of what I would like to say. Clothes does not a lady make. Emily you are a true lady in spirit and dead. You are beautiful for all the right reasons.

emily ballard said...

Thank you! You are all so very kind :)

emily ballard said...

Lucinda, someday I will write about the women who helped turn me into a homemaker. . . you will be right up there near the top of my list!