According to Wikipedia, the Ladies who Lunch: “is a phrase to describe slim, well-off, old-money, well-dressed women, who meet for lunch socially, normally during the working week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working. Normally the lunch is in a restaurant, perhaps in a department store during shopping. Sometimes there is the pretext of raising money for charity.”
Then there’s the song, “The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company, “Here’s to the ladies who lunch–/Everybody laugh./Lounging in their caftans/And planning a brunch/On their own behalf./Off to the gym,/Then to a fitting,/Claiming they’re fat./And looking grim,/’Cause they’ve been sitting/Choosing a hat./Does anyone still wear a hat?/I’ll drink to that.” (You can find the rest of the lyrics at http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/t/theladieswholunch.shtml).
So you can see, the phrase, Ladies who Lunch, has quite a history. And a reputation. Well, we are the Ladies who Lunch, of the next generation. We are non-married and most definitely working women. We are educated, graduated, dedicated women. We are not of old money, but earned money. Our days are generally long, and when we put our feet up, we’re dead tired. We try to dress well. We swap clothes occasionally to cheaply satisfy new wardrobe needs. We do not kid ourselves by gathering on the pretext of donating to charities. We do not, as of yet, have enough money to donate, but sometimes we do anyway, just a little, here and there.
We are not afraid of luxury. We are willing to spend a little of our hard-earned cash for a mid-week lunch or dinner get together – ladies only – complete with a top shelf gin martini. We meet for happy hour on Wednesdays when we can. We drink colorful cocktails, and munch the complimentary cheese and crackers, satiating our hunger for more. Always more. We go home early, drunk and buzzed, to tuck ourselves in. We’re certain we know how to have a good time. There’s photographic evidence. If the sun comes out during the weekend, we gather on the porch Saturday afternoon. We sip a glass of white wine with frozen fruit for ice cubes. We paint our toenails, read a book, exchange a little gossip, and finish it all off with a cat nap.
We love the benefits of exercise. We join nice gyms. Gyms that have whirl pool tubs, and saunas, and steam rooms. It is, partly, a social experience. We ogle the exceptionally toned men and women strutting their stuff around the weight machines. We believe in taking care of our bodies. Next to this is our fundamental belief in rewarding ourselves for going to the gym. It took energy, effort, cramming it into our chaotic schedules, and we did it. Now we will sit in luxury, melting in the sauna.
We believe in sustainability, in organics, and fresh, local food. We are willing to dole out a little extra to shop this way. We like to cook. We’re not afraid of the kitchen, or its stereotypes for women. We believe in dinner parties, potlucks, friends all gathered in one place with more rich and decadent food than everyone can eat. We believe in the warmth that comes out of the kitchen.
We ladies used to believe that being feminist meant not shopping at Victoria Secret, but we’ve learned that’s simply not true. We work to support our bodies and our health, inside and out, and we deserve to treat ourselves. Shopping at Victoria’s Secret makes us feel good. Makes us feel sexy. We like to indulge in lingerie. We’re willing to put in the time spent in the dressing room. We’ve carefully crafted a lingerie shopping technique. Don’t eat too much before lingerie shopping. Do your hair. Do your make-up. Don’t wear ridiculous novelty socks. Ahem.
We wear the lingerie when we’re alone. We wear it cooking. It’s about what it takes to make us feel sexy. The male counterpart is certainly nice. He also appreciates the lingerie. But as young, hip, 20-something women, as ladies who lunch, we need it for ourselves.
We used to believe that as independent, forward thinking ladies, there was no room for domesticity. Now we believe that if we met a wealthy man, and fell in love, that certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world. We would prefer to be independently wealthy, but you take what you can get. It wouldn’t be so bad to live on a whim and travel when it suits our fancy. We’ve reconsidered. We believe we could easily be kept women.
I do not own a caftan in which I could lounge. I didn’t even know what a caftan was until I googled it: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-caftan.htm
Now I think I could look superb in one. Particularly a silk designer caftan, in a very flattering shade of blue: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/catalog/prod.jhtml?itemId=prod99840009&ecid=NMCIGoogleBaseFeed&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=I01HV
The hats I own are winter hats. Functional hats, hats that cover your ears. I think I would like to own a large brimmed sun hat. So that I could sit on the porch, in a lawn chair, sipping a whiskey and ginger ale with lime, in a white, flowing sun dress. That’s all I ask.
And so the story goes that this generation of ladies who lunch are less high maintainance than the previous generation. We are more grounded. We have a stake in reality. But most importantly, we know the value of luxury. We earned it.