Sweet Adelines is pretty much the only organization I can think of where grown women actually choose, willingly and sometimes even eagerly, to dress alike. I don’t mean only on stage – that’s a given – and not only in the convention hall – that’s perhaps expected – but out in public, walking along the avenue, at restaurants, and at tourist spots around the city. It’s true. Lustre will spend Tuesday through Saturday dressed alike every day, all the way from our identical tops, pants and jewelry down to the color of polish on our toes. In fact, some of those days we’ll change clothes once or twice, all the while maintaining our matching wardrobe. It’s quite a fashionista’s dream-slash-nightmare to outfit four women for an SAI convention.
First to worry about are the performance costumes. Not only do they need to match, but they are judged as part of the Showmanship category – so they have to be right! Nothing should pull or tug, nothing should wrinkle or crease, and nothing should gape or reveal. The fit and style needs to flatter all four women. The color needs to be vibrant on stage under bright lights. The jewelry needs to highlight the face, and the shoes need to match the style of the costume and be comfortable enough to put the singer at ease. For our performance costumes, we are so very fortunate to have a fabulous seamstress in our midst. Bari Lori made both of our contest dresses, and in both cases, she took a pattern and customized it to our precise needs. Both dresses turned out beautifully!
Next, we need to have “walking around” clothes for four to five days. Our criteria: These clothes should be comfortable for all four of us to wear and feel good in, they should be flattering to all of our shapes. They should convey our quartet personality of “serious about having fun together”, if that makes any sense at all. We want to look put together but not formal or stuffy, professional but not business-like. Relaxed and casual but intentional. Comfortable but not slouchy. Easy on the glitter and rhinestones, but showier than normal clothes. Some of them need to be a little dressier than others, to cover the variety of occasions that we will attend during the week.
Oh sure. No problem. (Help?!?!?)
The criteria might be easier to meet if we all wore similar sizes or had similar body shapes even of different sizes. But among us we have regular misses, tall misses, and women’s sizes (bordering on petite women’s). Not very many stores cater to the needs of women in our many size ranges.
We’ve found that JCPenny typically suit our needs for pants and sometimes tops, and they have great coupons and sales that are easy on the budget. We’ve found some fantastic bargains at Coldwater Creek, which is normally very pricey. We’ve found cheap clothes on the clearance racks at Fashion Bug, and we’ve scoured Dress Barn for hours. We shop online a lot, using Chadwicks for basics. We’re not too proud to look in Walmart for very casual items. We found one of our outfits unexpectedly at the BHS (Men’s barbershop society) International Convention! And one of our tops came from a choral performance wear outfitter which we found online. When forming the quartet, we did not expect to shop together nearly as much as we do!
The good thing about this situation is that there’s no question or worry about what we have to pack for this trip. The packing list is very long and very detailed, and outlines every outfit down to the most foundational detail (including foundation undergarments!). There’s absolutely no stress about “what will I wear” on this trip – it has been scheduled for weeks in advance, assigned to a particular day, and included in the quartet schedule that will be posted on the wall of the hotel room. No guesswork, no worries. Just check the items off the list, put them in the suitcase and go!
This hobby is phenomenal in a lot of ways, but the opportunity for shopping! Who knew?