Short Fiction: Poor Form

Strappy Sandals“Tell me again why you said yes.” Paula peered into the cramped closet and shook her head. Wasn’t much to work with.

“I had to.” Valerie pushed her friend aside and grabbed an ivory blouse. “If I declined, he’d think I was jealous. So would all our friends.”

“You are jealous.” Paula yanked the blouse out of her hand and put it back. “And they’re not your friends anymore.”

“He doesn’t have to know I’m jealous.” She took the blouse back out. “And they’re still acquaintances. I don’t want to look bad in front of them.”

“No way you come off looking good.” Paula grabbed the blouse. “That’s awful for any occasion. Give it to charity. Actually, it’s too bad for charity.” She balled it up and tossed it on the floor.  “That wasn’t in style when it was new. Just toss it.”

“It’s classic.”

“It’s hideous.”

Valerie sighed. “What should I wear?”

“Well, you’ve got about thirty pairs of jeans, a bunch of t-shirts and flannels. Several dozen fleeces. None of that screams ‘wedding’ attire.”

“The invitation said casual. It’s outside.”

“Is it a lumberjack theme? Because that’s the only thing you’re prepared for.”

“My wardrobe is comfortable and serviceable.” Valerie picked up the ivory blouse and smoothed the wrinkles. “This is casual. I could wear it with white capri pants.”

“Even if that outfit was appropriate, which it isn’t, or if white and ivory matched, which they don’t, you can’t wear either color to a wedding. It’s bad form.”

“Well, I don’t want to insult the bride.”

“But she makes it so easy.”

“That’s not nice, Paula.”

She shrugged. “And they weren’t nice to ask you. Inviting your ex to your wedding is weird. Accepting is even weirder.”

“I couldn’t say no. What would people say?”

“That they were either stupid or rude to invite you to begin with. And you had the common sense and decency not to crash their big day.”

“I’m going in there holding my head high.”

“You don’t even have a date.”

Valerie sighed. “Rub it in, why don’t you?”

“Okay, if you’re going, you’re going glam. You’re going to show everybody that being single suits you.”

“It doesn’t.”

“I’m well aware. You’ve made stock in Ben and Jerry’s and Godiva Chocolates skyrocket since your split. But no one else needs to know that.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t go.” She plopped on the edge of the bed.

“No, you shouldn’t. But it’s too late now. You’re going to go and have all the men eating out of the palm of your hand.” Paula grabbed a pair of strappy heels out of the back of the closet. “Where’d you get these? They’re a bit more formal than your Timberlands and Nikes.”

“They were the shoes that went with the bridesmaid’s dress for Kim’s wedding.”

“And where’s that dress?”

“Oh, no. The invitation said casual.”

Paula slid the clothes far to the left and stretched into the right side of the closet. She pulled out a blush-colored silk sheath. “This is perfect.”

“It’s way too formal.”

“Better to be too dressy than too… you.”

“That’s mean.”

“That’s life. Dennis probably left you because of your fashion sense.”

“Dennis left me because he’s an ass. And there’s nothing wrong with my fashion sense.”

“You own one dress.”

“I own two dresses. I also own a nursery. I work in dirt all day. What do I need a dress for?”

“Weddings.”

Valerie sighed.

“Since you didn’t shop for this wedding—”

“I spent enough on the gift. I wasn’t buying an outfit I’ll never wear again, too.”

“—and you won’t wear anything of mine—”

“I’d spill out of the top of everything you own. And all the hems are too short. Or slits are too high.”

“—then you have no choice but to wear the blush silk and the strappy shoes.”

“It’ll look like I’m trying too hard.”

“You didn’t try at all.”

“But it’ll look like I did.”

“Valerie, your choices are the sheath or jeans.”

“I have my other dress. The white sundress.”

“A sundress is probably perfect, but you can’t wear white.”

“Fine.” She sighed. “The sheath.”

“Great.” Paula smiled, proud of the plan and pleased to get her friend in something other than denim for a change. “We’ll do a soft chignon and use a nude palette for your makeup. No jewelry. You’ll look natural. Fresh. We can downplay the formality of the dress. It’ll be fine.”

“As long as I don’t show up the bride.”

“Oh, you will. But not because you dressed like her. Because you out-dressed her. You’ll show everyone there that losing Dennis was the best thing that ever happened to you.”

·•◊♦◊•·

Valerie slammed the door. “You and your stupid ideas.”

Paula looked up. “Didn’t go as planned?”

“As planned?” She kicked off the shoes and slammed her clutch on the table. “The plan was to look slightly better than casual, make people think I wasn’t envious of the bride.”

“So?” Paula asked.

“So? So!” Her voice rose with each word. “So the bride chose a blush-colored silk sheath and gold strappy sandals. And looked a hell of a lot better than I did! It was humiliating!”

Paula bit the inside of her cheek so she didn’t laugh in her roommate’s face. When she managed to speak, she used the most serious tone she could muster. “Why would you wear a formal gown to a casual wedding? You should have worn the sundress. Would have made a much better statement.”

“The white sundress you told me was in poor form?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Valerie picked up her shoes and chucked them at her friend’s head.


Story inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Casual.

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26 thoughts on “Short Fiction: Poor Form

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

    • It’s so funny you say that, because my daughter loved that show. LOVED it. She even painted Stacy London quotes in her bedroom.

      Sometimes I think she channels Ms. London when she’s in my closet assessing my fashion choices. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved your story, however I would never take advice from Paula. I went underdressed to a wedding one time because it said casual dress on the invitation and I felt horrible the whole time, because everyone else was much better dressed than I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That happened to me once, too. To further compound matters, it was the first time I was meeting people my husband worked with, so I got a haircut the week before. I looked like Dudley Moore. It was awful. (My daughter still laughs about that!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hahahaha, excellent! Your writing is amazing (she said to the multiple times published author…) I was right there being annoyed at the stupid friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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