• Avril Tremayne

Playing Dress-Ups Is Not Just for Children


LOVE IS THE BEST MEDICINE COLUMN

I don't like fancy dress parties.

Okay – that is not strictly true. I actually love seeing the inventiveness of people who enjoy dressing up. I’ve just lost interest in doing it myself, so when I get an invitation to an event that requires theme dressing, I tend to have a little meltdown.

As far as I can tell, my antipathy dates from two separate parties out of a lifetime of fancy dress.

The first was when I was invited to a cross dressing party as a teenager, and took my brother along as my ‘date’. I cut up my mother’s wig to make a beard for myself (thereby doing her a favour if you ask me); and my brother (who, let me say, weighs in at a 15 on the 1-to-10 Scale of Macho) braved a dress. When we arrived, guess who were the only two guests who had actually adhered to the dress code? Not cool, people.

The second was my own fault, because it was a ‘children’s character’ party I threw in partnership with my flatmate at the time. Because in those days I never seemed to be able to do anything half-baked, I opted for a Rapunzel outfit, complete with a self-made tower built around me and yellow wool hair hanging out of the ‘window’ where my face appeared – the only part of my body on show. Of course it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year and it was not exactly fragrant in the tower, let me tell you – or at least it was, but not in a good way. The only person worse off than me was the poor guy who arrived in a full-body Bugs Bunny costume.

Over the years, I’ve braved parties as inanimate objects and even colours (my ‘pink and purple’ outfit springs instantly to mind, complete with dyed hair and shoes). I’ve attired myself in period costumes from Elizabethan to Victorian to the Roaring Twenties.

I’ve been ghosts and witches, hippies and sailors, buxom wenches and pirates, Grecian goddesses and Egyptian queens. In one abortive episode when I was young, I even roped my cat into the act for a Dick Whittington costume (bad, bad idea, for which I have never forgiven myself).

Seriously, I am worn out. So these days, when I’m attending a ‘themed’ event, I’m more likely to just give my usual appearance a little twist rather than going the whole hog. Which is why, at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference, for the Fresh, Flirty and Famous! cocktail party, I was happy just to curl my hair and bung on a fabulous red petticoat I just happened to have, under some regular clothes.

Mind you, I did experience a spot of costume envy when I saw amongst the guests a couple of Cleopatras, a fabulous Carmen Miranda, a Barbara Cartland or two, a masked Zorro and a truly brilliant Agatha Christie. And I still have a hankering to wear a crinoline one day – one of the few period costumes to have escaped me over the years. So who knows what the future holds?

So what about you – do you enjoy playing dress up or are you more likely to opt for just a little theme flavour when a special effort is called for?

I’m currently writing the second book (working title – The Rulebook) in a linked series that started with The Contract. And you couldn’t ask for two more different heroines when it comes to their interest in special outfits. Lane in The Contract wouldn’t have the first idea how to dress up as anything other than the economist she is in her day to day life – but Sarah in The Rulebook knows her way around both a wardrobe and a party and would always take out the best-dressed prize.

Learning the art of seduction has never been so such fun.

Lane Davis has never had time for love. Hard work, dedication and focus got her through uni and now she’s a successful economist with qualifications in all areas – except the bedroom. When a colleague airs those bedroom sheets in public, Lane decides it’s time to upskill. She’s always studied her way to success, so why not hire a teacher to help her out now? It’s just a business deal – three months of private tutoring, no strings attached. Easy – or it would be, if the lessons didn’t make her weak at the knees . . . Her proposed teacher, Adam Quinn, has his own agenda. His sister – one of Lane’s best friends – wants him to scare Lane into giving up her crazy scheme. But once he meets Lane, he can’t quite bring himself to reject her. If Adam’s going to teach Lane just one thing, it’s that love can get in the way of even the best intentions . . .

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