There is a kind of a fever in our household. Not the swine flu kind (though there was some of that a few months ago). Another kind of fever. A good kind.

My niece is getting married. She’s little (4 foot nothing), clever (she’s just been admitted to the Bar and I mean the lawyery sort of bar), gorgeous (taxi-drivers-regularly-waive-their-charge kind of gorgeous) and she’s marrying a Beautiful Man.

Her sister (who lives with me) is organising the wedding. It’s taking place at my sister’s (their auntie’s) house. My daughter Mary is one of the bridesmaids.  If you’re completely boggled by all the family relationships I’ve mentioned, all I’m saying is my entire family is in the grip of –

Wedding Fever.

So with all the preoccupation of coordinating the flowers and the bridesmaid’s dresses with the icing on the cake and the cufflinks and the suits and … I woke up with this thought:

“Maybe I should start thinking about what I’m going to wear. Oh crap. I have nothing to wear.”

I know this is the familiar refrain of every woman before every event. But I really had nothing to wear.

(It’s two days before the wedding):

I’m not a girly girl. I live in black singlets and jeans and sneakers. I own 2 comfortable dresses that I occasionally swap my jeans and singlet for, and neither of them are wedding-worthy. The other 2 aren’t wearable on account of the 6 meals a day I was having in the months just after Greg died, in the vain hope that food would fill the hole he left. It didn’t, but the food lingered around anyway. Now these other two dresses don’t fit.

So this morning I decided to buy a dress. And shoes, dammit.

I gave myself 1 hour in which to do these things. My unrealistic, ridiculous plan was a true reflection of how little shopping I do for clothes.

After walking around Myer aimlessly for the first half hour, and trying on 4 things that looked completely ridiculous, I left feeling slightly hopeless, deciding that I was INCREDIBLY BAD at buying clothes. And shoes? Perhaps I could wear sneakers to the wedding?

Lost in these un-useful thoughts, I suddenly found myself standing in a rather Stylish Dress Shop. The kind I wouldn’t normally go into. Hmm. Really, who was I trying to kid? I had about 5.3 minutes of shopping-patience left and then it would be all over. And in 9.7 minutes, I’d be home, on the phone to my sisters, having the “can I borrow a dress?” conversation.

I had nothing to lose in the Stylish Dress Shop. I wasn’t going to be there long enough.

A beautiful petite blonde woman came forward and politely offered her assistance.

“Really, she can’t help me. How can she help me? I’m un-helpable.”

But Beautiful Petite Blonde had an air of quiet reassurance about her. She had me trying on clothes I just KNEW would look awful on me. But wait, hang on, they sort of didn’t. It was like she knew the secret ways about clothes and how they worked on each person’s body … my body even. Things that I didn’t have any clue about, even though I’ve had this body for some time, and she’d only just encountered it. She didn’t judge. She persisted. Quietly, calmly, in a very non-annoying way. My befuddlement around fashion seemed absolutely normal.

I wanted to take Beautiful Petite Blonde home and have her make ALL my decisions for me.

Just 5 (or maybe 10) dresses or so later, I found myself buying a dress that I looked quite nice in, one that I would never have picked myself. And maybe it was to partly explain my earlier dress-buying-ineptitude, (or maybe it was just because she was nice) I also found myself telling her that I lost my husband some months ago.  She told me of a close friend who’d lost her husband, and another who’d committed suicide. We hugged.

As I was leaving, I revealed how much I hated buying shoes. (Even more than I hated buying clothes, and that’s a lot of hate). She virtually took me by the hand, waved an airy, “I’ll be back in a minute” to her colleague and escorted me down the mall to her favourite shoe shop.

“This is Malini, she has a wedding to attend on Saturday. She needs some shoes to match this dress. She can’t wear heels and she has difficult feet. And she hates buying shoes. Can you look after her?”

I didn’t have to lift a finger. Shoes simply appeared, eagerly placed before me by a shoe shop assistant who was passionate about shoes. I’d never seen anything like it. One after the other. I felt like Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman (after she was rich) except I’m an artist not a prostitute, I don’t have a billionaire boyfriend and I’m a middle-aged black haired Indian woman (but other than that, exactly the same).


I hope I see Beautiful Petite Blonde again. Maybe I will. She wanted to know what I did, so I told her about my art and my workshops for beginners. As with hundreds of people before her, she claimed not to be artistic, and I claimed to be able to change her mind in one day. Besides, I didn’t believe it for a minute. The way she dressed me – that was art.

I hope I can share a painting adventure with her one day. Not just so she can see me on my home turf where I’m not completely inept, but maybe so I can help make her day a little more beautiful, the way she made mine.


My workshops for beginners are almost completely booked out in Perth (just 1 or 2 spots left) and filling up fast in Melbourne. If you’d like to come, check them out here.


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Comments 16

  1. this is just lovely… sometimes we meet people who can just rise above all the difficult, awkward stuff in our lives and help us find a way through. I really hope she comes to one of your workshops, that way you can give her something lovely back. hugs xx

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      Yes, well put, Carina. I know it was just a little thing in the scheme of life, but sometimes these ‘little things’ are metaphors for Bigger Things 🙂 xox

  2. I saw the dress, I saw the shoes, I saw the niece, and the fiancé too! I did not meet Petite Blonde, but she sounds absolutely delightful! I really do hope you see her again! I’m sure she would LOVE attending your workshop for beginners!

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      Haha, Carmel, and you are another one of those neices!! You’re all lovely 🙂 I think I’ll take you all to meet Petite Blonde! xox

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  3. Ha, ha Mal, I can definitely attest to your hatred of clothes and shoe buying. I remember I bought you the dress you for the BIG last concert of Greg Parker event or you would have gone in jeans and sneakers:) So I’m really happy!!! As mother the bride I’ve participated, along with the bride and groom to be in painting chairs for the garden wedding, cutting up bucket loads of salad veggies, and tonight we are hosting the groom’s family to dinner. You have NO idea how grateful I am for all the family chipping in.

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  4. awwwwww it’s officially The Big Day (as of 2 mins ago) and I just saw THE dress on, while reading this post! Love it! And love you 🙂

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  5. Hi Malini
    What a beautiful, fun story which reminded me totally of when I bought clothes for my eldest son’s wedding – same thing – wandering around day after day trying on, discarding, what WILL I do, and walked into a posh store I’d never go into usually and they worked that miracle. The assistants somehow knew what was needed, what to do even down to specialised underwear to magic away a couple of pounds — and took me all over the store to bring it all together. The outfit still hangs proudly in the wardrobe and is gazed at now and again ……..
    Have the most wonderful day at the wedding Malini and no doubt you will and all good wishes, thoughts and blessings to your niece in her new life.

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      Thank you Marilyn! It sounds like you had a great team working for you there! I bought a dress a few years ago (one of the 2 that no longer fit) in a REALLY fancy boutique and they did nothing of the sort. Quite the opposite actually. One of the reasons this really great service was so touching, when it seemed to also be so authentic and kind. Thank you for the warm wishes. xox

  6. How wonderful! Wish I was petite like you and could find a place or 2 as you did to find the right clothes etc.
    Shoes are my biggest problem. Hope the wedding went really well, and of course, you enjoyed yourslef and looked almost as beautiful as the bride (can’t outdo her)

  7. Oooh how special Malini… I love your post and the shop assistant sounds like a treasure. I hope the wedding was fabulous! <3

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