The Struggle Continues - Part 2 - The Wedding - 3 - The Green Velvet Suit
Just after ten we were standing outside Caroline Charles in St. Christopher's Place. 'That'll do!' I was pointing to a green crushed velvet skirt suit in the window.
'They won't have my size!' Alice always felt glasses were half-empty, whereas I'm always the optimist.
'They should be open in a few minutes!' I looked at my watch. 'Why don't you wait until they do, whilst I go next door to Selfridges and get the tights.' I thought about those horrendous pants. 'Would you like me to get you some proper knickers? Something that Alistair might like!'
'Yes! Thanks!' She smiled at me. 'But I know you! No thongs!'
'Phone me if the suit fits or you've got something else - ' I stopped as I could see behind Alice, that someone was opening the shop. 'Are you opening up?' The lady nodded.
'Off you go!' Alice ordered. 'I need tights and knickers in small. Get a light tan in a good make. Perhaps with some shine!' She moved towards the shop. 'See you here by half-past. I'll wear the cream blouse from last night.'
In some ways I felt a bit of an idiot walking round Selfridges in a light grey morning suit. One American lady thought I was something to do with the shop and when I bought the tights, the assistant throught I was from a hotel. But there just hadn't been time to do things any differently.
'Can I help you? Sir!' I was now upstairs in the lingerie department and had been approached by an attractive black assistant in perhaps her late thirties, who gave a professional air that said she could sort out Alice's needs correctly.
'Don't laugh!' She smiled. 'But I'm going to my son's wedding with my ex-wife and she overdid it last night.' She laughed knowlingly. 'So she hasn't been able to go home to get changed!'
'You look absolutely fine! Sir!' She moved me towards rows and rows of bras and knickers. 'What are you looking for, for your wife?'
'Ex-wife!' I thought for a moment before replying. 'She needs a nice pair of knickers in cream. Nothing too skimpy or racy! And she can't abide thongs. The size is small! Or it was when we got divorced and she doesn't seem to have put on any weight since.'
'As it's your son's wedding, why not buy her a set?' She smiled persuasively. 'It is a special day and your ex-wife should be properly dressed from top to toe. Evan if she is your ex-wife. You might get back together! What bra size does she wear?
Most men don't know how to buy their wives, partners or girlfriends underwear. But I do and getting the size is the easy part. You just rumage through her underwear drawer or the linen basket and read the label. 'She's a 32C!'
'Are you sure about the colour? Cream isn't a colour men usually buy.'
'Yes!' The colour is the bit that men often get wrong, as most women don't like the ones that men do. Black and scarlet are often no-nos, but nice pastel shades often go down well. 'She's wearing a cream blouse, so why not match it?'
'We have this very pretty set in cream! It's French.' She laid the bra and knickers on the counter to show me. 'It's a plunge bra and it's lightly padded with quite a bit of lace. It should fit, but if there's a problem, bring it back.'
'That should do! But time is tight, so bringing it back is not really an option.' I turned the knickers over. The back was full and shear and definitely fitted Alice's no thong rule. ' I agree! It is very pretty. I think she'll like that, although she's not really into padded bras.'
'I have another style.' She walked back to the racks and retrieved another bra. 'This is a balconette style that supports in a different way.'
'She has a bit of a temper, so I'll take the second bra. Can you add another pair of knickers?' The assistant retrieved another pair.
'As it's a special day, there is a matching suspender belt. Would you like to add that?'
Alice was born in 1948 and many women of that age hated the stockings that they had to wear with their school uniforms. In Alice's case the hatred was further enhanced by the prison-style summer dresses, that the uniform at her grammar school imposed. So when tights came in with short skirts in the nineteen sixties the hated stockings were something she was more than glad to give up. 'My ex-wife hasn't worn stockings for over thirty years!' I paused. 'I think not!'
'I wear stockings all the time.' She pulled her skirt tight over her thigh to show the clip. 'They're so much more comfortable now. And so sexy!' She was pleading with a smile. 'Go on!'
'But I've bought these tights!' I showed her the contents of the bag I was carrying.
'I've got some very nice shiny stockings, that will go well.'
'She'll probably be wearing a green velvet suit!' I hoped she would be. 'Will everything go together OK?'
'The jacket fits, but the skirt is too big!' Alice was standing in the green velvet suit in the shop. 'They're getting a size eight skirt sent over in a taxi from Beachamp Place. I've tried another eight on in a different colour and it fits perfectly. Even if it's a bit short!' She sighed and waved her hands. 'But so what!'
'The one you're wearing looks fine to me!'
'You always say that!' She opened the jacket to show large amounts of loose skirt at the waist. 'This is a twelve!' She held her hand out for the bags I was carrying. 'Did you get the tights and knickers?'
'The sales lady persuaded me that you should were a matching bra and knickers on this special day.' I handed her the large of the two bags. 'I also bought two pairs of knickers! Why don't you go and change?'
'Ewart!' Alice didn't sound amused, as she called from the small changing cubicle at the back of the shop. 'Come here!'
'So what's the problem!' I had poked my head around the curtain. The underwear seemed to fit well. 'Does the bra fit?'
'Yes! Perfectly!' She felt underneath the bra. 'It's very comfortable!' She then held up the suspender belt. 'What's this?'
'A suspender belt!' I smiled at her. 'You use it to hold up your stockings!'
'I know it's a suspender belt!' She was not that angry, but she was going that way. 'I don't wear stockings. They're uncomfortable.'
'Alistair might like them!' I paused. 'And how do you know they're uncomfortable, if you haven't wore them in years?'
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