Maybe it’s not Maybelline and maybe she actually was born with it, or near enough as like: there’s something funny afoot in the Irish psyche when an invite to a black tie event drops on the welcome mat.You know, a stiff card missive summoning you to a laugh-a-minute nurses and guards ball, or the like.
The bizarre Irish inability to garb oneself for formal social occasions without looking like a lumpy Quality Street has been noted before. We’ve come a long way since we were dancing for Dev’s delight at the crossroads clad in sackcloth and muslin, wearing red-cheeked smiles of simple delight.
Irish women are now quite stylish and that. We’ve got drapery shops that don’t have yellow cellophane covering the windows and which do contain up-to-the-minute fashion items. We can buy non-censored frequently published ladies journals to tell us how to put them together in eye-pleasing ways. There are even, I believe, things called style and beauty weblogs out there on the webternet to help with any fashion and cosmetic queries we may have. I wouldn’t know much about that aspect myself.
But something happens when we’re invited to a black tie ball or awards night. Synapses flare, hormones surge and odd things happen in our thalamus. All sense of normal reason and carefully-cultivated style go out the window. If you normally shop in Zara and Cos and off-kilter high fashion choices and doing it differently are your thing, you can bet your ass your immediate thought when the big ball invite arrives is “aha! Julian in the Stephen’s Green Centre will be just the ticket! I can really see myself in a slashed-to-the-navel puce satin number with rhinestone detailing, accessorised with a terrifying amount of blusher, fake tan and an eye-wateringly tight up-do.”
And y’know, I think I have an inkling as to just why this might be.
IT’S THE DEBS.
Hard-coded into our pasty DNA round about age 17 is the vital information that dinner dances – or ‘dos, as your parents would call them – must be prepared for with vast acres of neon satin and litre bottles of vile smelling fence paint masquerading as fake tan. It’s why normally sartorially superb adult Irish women suddenly appear in jewel-toned, satin-draped phalanxes at weddings like Liverpudlians do when Aintree rocks around. We can’t help ourselves, God love us. It’s what was bate into us as teenagers and the mental block is there for keeps.
So the good news is we’re not responsible for this sense-based leave-taking. Nope. It’s not our fault that the EU Satin Surplus (there is one, I’ve checked) is plundered each wedding and awards season. Nor can we really be held accountable for the diminution of the European Fake Tan Lake, which is, of course, lapping happily in – wait for it – St. Tropez.
No: this all happened to us before the age of consent, and so we can’t be taken remotely to task. To Coast with us for a rummage through the racks of taffeta, ruffles and unsuitable strapless numbers in shades designed expressly to clash with Celtic skin and hair so. Straight to the local beauty salon for a full-body spray tan – shade darkest ebony – to be conducted wearing naught but a pair of paper knickers and scarlet flaming embarrassment.
Because we will go to the formal event. And it will be a balls.
(by Kirstie McDermott)