Dressing the Part: Fans Champion Their Right to Choos

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 29, 2008

Here they come, coltishly tripping across Wisconsin Avenue like loose pages from Elle magazine. Wearing bell-shaped dresses with peep-toe pumps or boxy kimonos with outrageous earrings, they travel in a pod of about a hundred toward the AMC theater in Friendship Heights on Wednesday evening.

Ladies and gentlemen, the sneak previewers of "Sex and the City."

These are the true believers, the kind you will not meet at 12:01 a.m. Friday when the film opens, because they will have already seen it. They spent the past month doggedly entering contests, which allowed them to attend parties, which allowed them to enter drawings, which allowed them to screen "Sex and the City" a whole 29 hours before the rest of the country.

"I'm going a little more Charlotte today," says Star Dodd. She has on a sultry-sweet strapless sundress and hair just so.

"And I'm Samantha." Her friend Mary Lawson has on a black miniskirt your mother would never let you sit in, with matching, tottering heels.

Amber Sutton is channeling Carrie Bradshaw, in a flowy, green goddess dress. Currently, she says, the status update on her Facebook profiles reads: "is so excited to see 'Sex and the City' tonight." She has a guy friend whose update says, "is thinking 'Sex and the City' is like 'Star Wars' for girls."

As in, out with the Chewbacca costume, in with the Choos. Aspirational women, letting their designer freak flags fly.

"Everybody should know where I'm going tonight," Dodd says.

Because this particular block of Friendship Heights is not exactly "Sex and the City." It's TJ Maxx and the City. Cheesecake Factory and the City. Upper-middle-class pseudo-suburbia. The pre-party for this event, sponsored by Mix 107.3, was at Maggiano's, a family-style Italian restaurant. While older men shared plates of calamari downstairs, the sneak previewers played trivia games on the second floor.

The famed foursome would not likely brunch here. Too much garlic.

But loving "SATC" has always been about the ability to ignore realities like this and keep marching toward the fairy tale. Past the TJ Maxx and the Linens 'n' Things.

Loving "SATC" usually is done with a sense of self-awareness. It's ridiculous, but Oh , what's the harm in a little pretend now and then?

And so these women indulge in a game of dress-up, just for tonight, including those a bit beyond the fairy princess age.

Barbara Faust, Jane Massant, Lee Hanson and Sharon LaMunya are in their 50s or 60s and have been friends for nearly 30 years. They pored over entertainment magazines for clothing inspiration for tonight, then decided to go all out and add hats.

Hanson is wearing gold shoes; she knew she wanted to carry her matching gold bag, which she hadn't used in years. When she finally found it, it was stuffed full of something. " 'Star Wars' figurines!" she says with a laugh. That's how long it had been since she played dress-up. They belonged to her son, who is now 24.

They were left over from someone else's game of make-believe.

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