Author’s Note: On the off-chance that any of the creators of the CC about to be, um, “featured” is reading this, PLEASE do not take any catty remarks you may read personally! I obviously LOVE your stuff — it wouldn’t be in my game otherwise! Just chalk it up to different Sims having different tastes. 🙂 And Babette liking things fussy and embellished.
Also, MAJOR THANKS go out to Andavri for just about everything Bianca says! Because Andavri knows what the heck is going on with clothes — and I don’t!
“Oh, aren’t you just too cute,” Babette Wesleyan squealed. “With your new hair — and your new cosmetics — oh, you are just going make the boys fall all over you! I just know it!”
Her interlocutor grinned and curled a lock of the aforementioned hair around her finger, clearly in complete and total agreement with her. This was not at all surprising, since, in fact, Babette was speaking to her own reflection.
Since gazing at her own image was not enough, Babette continued to fill the room with the sound of her own voice. “Chopping off all that silly length was just the way to go,” she congratulated herself, turning from one side to the other to get a better view of the full effect. “All one length is so … old-fashioned, anyway. I mean, what is this? An-tique-ity?” Continuing to grin, she fluffed her hair. “And now your hair just curls at the end, instead of being silly and uniform and wavy — and it frames your face — instead of just all falling down your back and getting in the way and stuff.”
She sighed. “It’s almost too bad you’re taken,” she told her reflection. “Because if you weren’t — oh, you could break hearts. Or collect them. After all, what’s the point of breaking hearts? Better to keep them all from being broken in the first place … except, of course, collecting boys by the dozens wouldn’t make you any friends among the other girls. And that, that just won’t do.”
She turned this way and that, looking over not only her hair and her face — both of which had already met her enthusiastic approval — but also her figure, or what parts of it she could see in the small bathroom mirror. “What you really need, now,” she mentioned to her reflection, “is some new clothes.” She sighed. “But because silly Heloise has to go to Camford next year, since her only hope of ever getting married is to find someone whose nose is just as stuck in a book as hers, that’s just not going to happen right now.”
Of course, if Babette had really needed new clothing — if she’d grown another inch up or out in the hips or bust — clothes would have been provided for her. Her father, she knew, would never have any of his children (or grandchildren) going around like tattered old peasants. But she knew that getting the clothes she really wanted — silks and velvets and fine brocades — was not in the cards at this juncture, so it was better not to bring up clothes at all. At least not for her, though she would get a chance to go clothes shopping later today, and shopping vicariously was better than no shopping at all.
“On the bright side,” Babette remarked, tapping her finger against her lip, “he’s sure to like the new hairstyle and cosmetics — and men never notice clothes anyway.” Besides, Aglovale’s nobleman’s pride was touchy. If Babette remembered correctly, he had seen Danielle Ferreira at his sister’s wedding, and he’d had a lot of choice words about her “dressing above her station” or something silly like that. Babette hadn’t really did — she never did, not when Aglovale was angry about something. It was much easier just to say, “Oh, you poor dear!” or “How true!” or “I know exactly what you mean,” without taking the trouble of listening.
“Did it ever occur to you,” asked an all-too-familiar voice, “that if men can’t be troubled to notice clothing — which, after all, has the virtue of covering up the parts of the body that they’re most interested in — that they would hardly be likely to notice the coverings on the part of the body that they’re least interested in?”
Drat! She should have locked that door!
Babette sniffed and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “You’re so … vulgar, Heloise.”
“Vulgar? I’m just telling it like it is. But if I’m wrong, do correct me. I’d love to regain some of my lost hope in the Sim race.” Heloise put her hands on her hips. “So tell me — when’s the last time you and Sir–”
“Don’t you dare!”
“Shall-Not-Be-Named had a deep, intellectual conversation? Or not even a deep intellectual conversation — you’d probably drown if you tried anything deep — but just a conversation that didn’t revolve around gossip?”
Babette looked sidelong at Heloise, snorted and rolled her eyes. ” ‘Deep intellectual conversations‘ are only for people who don’t have anything better to do.”
“And you think I’m vulgar.”
“I’m not talking about that!” Babette snapped. “I mean — there are just more important things to do than talk when we’re together!”
Heloise crossed her arms over her chest, and the look on her face said clearly, Name one.
“Well, there’s looking into each other’s eyes … and embracing each other … and …” Unfortunately everything else she and Aglovale did together was straying dangerously close to ‘vulgar’ territory. “Why am I even discussing this with you? The only reason you’re so cynical is because you’re just jealous.”
“Oh, yes, I’m so jealous of how you’re slowly starving your brain of essential air when you make out with him for hours. You probably lose more intelligence in a single evening with him than you do in a whole day of primping in front of the mirror — and that’s saying a lot! Anyway, find another mirror to slowly drain your mind of any whatever capacity it has left, I need to pee before I go out, and I need to go out in the next ten minutes.”
“Go out?” Babette asked, not bothering to move, especially since she knew the answer to Heloise’s question already. “Go out where?”
“Would you just LEAVE for five minutes?”
“Nope! Not until you tell me!”
Heloise sighed. “I promised Mother that I would see Mistress Ferreira about a new wardrobe for Camford this week. Mother’s going to be out all afternoon, so I figured I’d do it today so I wouldn’t have to deal with all of her fuss and bother. If I leave in the next ten minutes, I’ll get there an hour before closing — which is more than enough time to pick out my wardrobe, and it will get Mistress Ferreira to hurry through it, but not so little time that Mother will claim I half-assed it and make me do it again. Now will you leave?”
“Sure,” Babette replied. With one last fluff of her gorgeous locks, she added, “I’ll be waiting in the carriage.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t invite you.”
“I know,” Babette giggled. “You didn’t have to.”
“I DON’T want your company.”
“I don’t care. Mother thought you might pull something like this, so she told me to make sure I went with you if you tried to leave the house this afternoon.”
Heloise’s jaw fell. “No!”
“This isn’t fair!”
“And I don’t care! So I’ll be waiting — and don’t think you’ll get away by just riding instead of taking the carriage, because if you’re not out in five minutes, I’m saddling up Blackie and following you!”
With her sister’s frustrated yell ringing in her ears, Babette chortled all the way to the carriage.
Wright, don’t they have anything better to talk about? Heloise wondered as she looked through the racks of cloth choices and ready-made dresses. Of course, they weren’t really ready-made; rather, they were samples made to fit a wide range of sizes, ready to be reproduced and tailored to an exact fit for wealthier customers. Poorer customers — assuming they were even shopping here in the first place — usually picked out cloth, or they took a shapeless smock of a dress or tunic and tailored it at home.
Anyway, just because they were in a clothing store was no excuse, in Heloise’s mind, to have a twenty-minute conversation about cut and fabrics and styles and — she didn’t even know what else; she’d stopped listening nineteen minutes and thirty seconds ago. Really, how much could there possibly be to say about clothing? It either fit or it didn’t. You either liked the color or you didn’t. What else needed to be said?
“Have you seen the latest drawings to come out of Reme?” Mistress Ferreira was asking. “They feature a gown with a very high waist, thin sleeves and a straight skirt. Lady Eilwen ordered one for — one of her daughters, I can’t remember which one. Anyway, they’re calling it the ‘Renaissance.'”
Heloise was going to stick a hanger in her eye before all this was over, she just knew it.
“And how are you doing, Heloise?” Mistress Ferreira asked, moving to look over her selections.
“All right,” Heloise answered. She would be — well, maybe not nice, but “polite” would do. There was no point in being snappy with Mistress Ferreira. She might have had a head full of clothing and hair and cosmetics and all the rest of that crap, but unlike Babette — would just wear clothes and do her hair and experiment with cosmetics — she had taken what she loved and turned it into a business. And while the men liked to talk about Richard Ferreira and all the contributions he’d made to Albion’s economy and the trading contacts he’d made, all the women knew that if Bianca Ferreira hadn’t stayed at home, minding not just the children (her mother did most of that) but also the dress shop and the cosmetics shop and the linen shop and the bakery, then Richard Ferreira would never have had the capital needed to expand his trading ventures to the point where now people were talking about the King granting him a barony in recognition of all he had achieved.
How could you not show respect for a woman who had accomplished so very, very much?
“I see a lot of green in your selections,” Mistress Ferreira remarked with a secret smile — a smile that went right over Heloise’s head until Mistress Ferreira fingered her own overdress. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” She winked.
“Here, let me see what you have!” Babette squealed, popping up by Heloise’s side. She took one look at Heloise’s selection and made a face. “Heloise!”
“They’re all so plain!”
“Babette, not everyone likes a great deal of embellishment on their clothing,” Mistress Ferreira added. “Your own dress doesn’t have much!”
“Oh — that doesn’t matter. I won’t need to be impressing people when I’m in this dress. Heloise will.”
“I doubt the professors of Camford would care if I showed up to class in a burlap sack!”
“Silly! You’re not there to impress the professors! Now let’s see … this is a good start, and this, and this …” Before Heloise knew it, she had five elaborately embroidered and brocaded dresses added to her pile. “Now let’s go see how they look on you! And then we can go get more!”
“Let’s just see how Heloise likes what she has,” Mistress Ferreira came to the rescue, thank Wright.
They went upstairs, to the changing and tailoring area, and Mistress Ferreira ushered Heloise into a booth. Then Heloise looked over her — and Babette’s — selections.
The first three that Babette had picked out she placed in the discard pile immediately — too embellished, too embroidered, too extravagant, too expensive. The fourth she waffled over for a moment, then placed in the discard pile. The fifth —
“Hurry up, Heloise! We want to see!”
She threw the fifth over her head and walked out of the changing room.
“Oh! Oh, Heloise! It’s perfect! You have to buy it!”
“I don’t know …” Heloise fingered one of the embroidered flowers. The dress was practically stiff with them; she was sure that the undersides of the embroidery would leave little flower-shaped imprints in her skin if she tried to wear this gown for a long time, particularly if she had to sit a long time in it. And she would be sitting, a long time, in libraries and at the desk in whatever place she ended up living.
Suddenly, the last things she wanted out of her college experience were flower-shaped depressions on her ass and upper thighs.
“It’s a bit experimental,” Mistress Ferreira hedged — ever the businesswoman, she’d probably caught a glance at Heloise’s face. “I’ll admit that I’m not sure I like the neckline on you — it hits you right across the shoulders, and that isn’t very flattering. The belting, too … it doesn’t quite hit your waist. And all that embroidery makes it expensive, and hard to alter.”
Heloise smoothed the brocaded bodice and picked at the embellished lower belt. Wright, what had whoever designed this — Mistress Ferreira? — been thinking? You couldn’t even move in this thing!
“Let me see how it looks on me,” Heloise demurred, moving over to the mirror.
Oh, HELL no!
“You want me to buy this thing?” Heloise gasped. “It makes my hips look a mile wide!”
“Boys like that!” Babette replied. “It makes you look fertile!”
“Fertile is one thing, but in this I look desperate!”
“You ARE desperate!”
“I am not!”
“Ladies, please!” Mistress Ferreira interrupted. “If Heloise doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it. Would you like to show us something else?”
“Thank you!” was all Heloise had to say before she marched back into the changing room. She tried one of the dresses she had picked out, but one which was made of a brocaded fabric that would, Heloise thought, pass both Helena’s and Babette’s musters for opulence, extravagance, etc. In other words, something that was likely, in their minds, to indicate to any and all potential mates who might be lurking the halls of Camford that Heloise had money, enough of it that it might make it worthwhile to look past her unwomanly scholastic habits.
As IF I’d marry anyone who would have to “look past” the fact that I have a brain! And Dad would never make me marry someone like that!
She came out again, smoothing the brocaded velvet. “Well?”
“Oh, Heloise! You’re kidding!”
“I think it looks fine,” Mistress Ferreira disagreed. “The color is good on you, Heloise, and it nicely accentuates your shape — without making you look desperate. In fact, if you’ll both notice, Babette’s dress has very similar lines.”
“Oh, great! She really is desperate!”
“Girls!” Mistress Ferreira broke in, shaking her head. Heloise would bet money that she was thanking her lucky stars that she had two boys, and not two girls. “Anyway, the neckline is also good on you — it adds interest without being unflattering.”
“But look at that shift!” Babette whined. “It’s so plain!”
“It’s a shift!”
“It could use a bit of embroidery — around the cuffs of the sleeves, or on the neckline! And it’s just plain linen, it’s not even bleached!”
“You could get a different one, if you liked,” Mistress Ferreira added before Heloise could properly formulate her retort. “Or have some embroidery added to this one.”
“But I like it the way it is!” Heloise replied. “If it’s bleached then you have to keep it bleached, and that’s a pain in the a–er, behind. And I don’t want embroidery added! It’s fine the way it is!”
“Well, if you don’t want embroidery, you certainly don’t have to get it, I’m just saying that it’s a possibility.”
Babette sighed explosively. “Fine, fine. You like the shift. But let me ask you, Heloise — if you claim you’re not desperate, then why are you wearing your underwear as outerwear?”
Heloise’s hand went to the bodice. “It is not underwear!” Oh, Wright, TELL me it’s not underwear!
“It’s not underwear.” Mistress Ferreira turned to Babette. “It’s a perfectly respectable look, and much favored by many of the merchant women of Glasonland. It — well — provides support without being restrictive, and it gives an opportunity for extra embellishment.”
“The merchant women,” Babette repeated.
“Babette, in case you hadn’t noticed, we are merchant women!”
“But you don’t want to look like one, not when you’re at Camford! And not when Dad is willing to pay for you not to!” She turned to Mistress Ferreira. “I mean — Danielle didn’t go off to Camford looking like she’d just gotten out from behind the counter — and she already had a man!”
“True enough, but in case you’ve forgotten, Danielle has her own, rather distinctive sense of style.”
“And so do I!” Heloise called out.
“Heloise.” Mistress Ferreira took a deep breath. “Why don’t you try on something else? Regardless of what Babette has said — do you like the dress enough to purchase it?”
It’ll piss Babette off, won’t it? “Sure,” she said.
“Very well, then just put it aside when you get back into the booth, and we’ll see about tailoring and measurements some other day.”
“All right.” Heloise ducked back into the changing room and selected one of the dresses she had picked out — and the one that she wanted most.
When she came out, Babette groaned. “Heloise! We’re back at square one!”
“I know.” She meandered over to the mirror.
“It’s just as plain as everything in your wardrobe — it’s plainer!”
“You can’t possibly go to Camford wearing something like that!”
“Sure I can.”
“Because,” Heloise replied over her shoulder, “it’s my style.”