Anybody who has lived with me knows that I like my heels low, my makeup cheap, and my getting ready time under 25 minutes. Yesterday I experienced how the other half lives.
I thought I’d put together a little step-by-step guide to getting ready for a ball – Irish style!
A FEW DAYS IN ADVANCE
1. Nails. Of course, if you’re going fake, this should be the last step. But Mairéad and I decided (Mairéad decided and I copied) to go au naturel (it was the only natural thing in this process) with some homegrown French tips. Do this a few days beforehand, before the hysteria has set in.
2. Dress. Buy a dress. It doesn’t matter what it is. There will always be a better, more expensive version that you just can’t have. But some girl out there can have it, and she will most certainly be at the same ball.
THE DAY BEFORE
3. Tan. This was the step I was most nervous about. Pale as the midnight moon, I was afraid my skin would soak up this stuff like a bottle of SunnyD. For this reason, it may be too daunting a task for the first timer to apply the goop to oneself. (Who can really reach their own back? Okay, Mairéad, you can, we get it.) In the end, one must enlist one’s housemates to don the oven mitt and wipe one down with the paint (the lightest color available, of course). If you’re in Ireland and out of heating oil, then this will be the most uncomfortable, freezing experience of your life. Enjoy!
Note: Do this the day before so that your tan has time to “develop.” The longer you sit still with your arms out, the better your tan will dry. And whatever you do, don’t let your boobs touch.
Also note: No matter how long you sit, the sweater you wear the next day (as well as your boyfriend) will also get a tan.
THE DAY OF
4. Shower. This is the easiest step. Because you’re not actually going to shower.
Your housemates will not let you shower for two reasons:
a) you need your hair nice and greasy to hold a glamorous hairstyle and
b) “Your tan is perfect! If you let one drop of water touch those arms, I swear to God…!”
5. Shoes. Lust after your housemate’s size 3 shoes. Try to fit into her pair of size 4 heels. Try to fit into another housemate’s size 5. Give up, go to the mall, and buy new outrageous shoes!
Enjoy them for the next 30 minutes, because when you get home, you’ll have to put them on.
Practice walking for the rest of the afternoon, between the rest of the makeover steps. Warning: Carpet’s the easy part!
Note: The critical part of this step is that you chicken out as the taxi arrives and wear your 1-inch heels instead.
6. Hair. I hated having my hair cut as a kid. Therefore, my mom cut (!) her losses and stopped taking me to the salon. Instead, she just went at my head with a pair of scissors.
The ensuing bowl cut was fine with me and completely painless. So when Leanne started in with a fierce dedication to building a tight braid (they call it a plait), I wasn’t sure what strange torture was befalling me. I was whining (they say whinging) like a four-year-old. That shit hurts, man! The curls are the painless part. Never request a headband-like braid. Sure it looks like you’re a princess when it’s done, but do you know what Sleeping Beauty went through to get that braid? No wonder they had to put her to sleep.
Note: It does not matter that your house is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You wear shorts and a tank top because of that expensive (at least that’s what you want people to think – perhaps a trip to the Spanish Riviera) tan!
7. Hairspray. And lots of it. Don’t complain. Keep your mouth shut. Because that stuff tastes like death.
8. The hair you bought. Remember those hair extensions you bought last week? When you had to go to the girl at the counter and ask her to pick them out for you because you sure as hell didn’t know how to shop for other people’s hair? Time to whip those out. If you’re lucky, your housemates will curl your extensions for you (because they don’t trust you to do it).
Did you know that your extensions also need to be cut so as not to look unnaturally long? Yeah, let your housemates do that part, too. It’s for the best.
Note: It will feel like you’re wearing a hat under your hair for the entire night. But as Leanne said, “Just remember every girl in the ballroom also feels like she’s wearing a hat under her hair.”
9. Hairspray. You should be just a little bit high on fumes by now.
10. Eyelashes. Don’t try to do this yourself, it will only end in terror and possibly embarrassment. Mairéad glued my eyelashes on, and these were the good individual kind (that meant sitting still for longer) – not the cheap one-strip type. And as Mairéad said, “Open your eyes every so often so they don’t get glued to your bottom lashes.” Yeah, not scary at all.
Note: Afterward, you will have to use a tiny scissors to trim your outrageously fake eyelashes. Be careful! They look frighteningly like your real ones!
11. Make-up. By this time your housemates are bored of you and have to get themselves ready. So just go about your regular makeup routine, but remember that your regular foundation won’t cut it. Try every color foundation in the house. You’re bound to find one that – wait, no. You’ll give up and just spend a good 30 minutes trying to bronze your face to the same color as your neck.
Note: No matter how good you look in the mirror, your face will not match your shoulders in any photos you are unfortunate enough to see later.
Now, by this point, you should be fairly tipsy. The boys, who took a grand total of 20 minutes to get ready (15 of those minutes were trying to tie ties), will be pouring the good stuff. That’s your cue to give up and join in!
*Absence of photos while food and drink was consumed*
Oh, except for this: