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Tara's Take: Dress Debacle

By: Tara Wheeler
By: Tara Wheeler

Wardrobe Malfunction: I was invited to host the Charlottesville Heart Ball this past weekend and had the perfect gown to wear... after dieting for weeks to fit into it, I got the thing zipped and headed to the ball... turns out, I should have brought a back up.

I was invited to host the Charlottesville Heart Ball to benefit the American Heart Association this past weekend. I was thrilled and honored to be a part of such a charitable and glamorous event and was pumped that I already had the perfect gown to wear. It's my absolute most favorite dress in the world: the red gown I wore when I won Miss Virginia. That was back in 2008... when I was significantly skinnier. But, it was the perfect dress for the ball. Red, glamorous, and fun and I was determined to wear it.

I dieted for weeks to get into the thing and it was a multi-person operation to zip it up. I arched back while someone else pulled the corset together and another hand tugged the zipper. Two collapsed ribs and a few displaced organs later, I could barely breathe, but the dress was on! I arrived at the Heart Ball on Saturday feeling fabulous.

I was early to the event on Saturday and the wonderful coordinators told me there was pizza and a place to relax in a back board room while I waited for the crowds to come. I had been dieting... so I was hungry... and several slices of pizza were screaming for me to eat them. I unzipped the dress, sat down in the private board room and ate. After my snack, and with just 15 minutes left to go until it was time to make my grand entrance as the emcee, one of the Heart Ball volunteers came by to help me zip my dress. Unfortunately, we were short-handed and didn't have someone to help pull the corset together in the back... with the added bulk of all the pizza in my belly, the zipper couldn't take it. I heard a "pop" followed by a disheartening "uh oh" and I knew disaster had struck.

It's important to include in this story, that I am the Captain of Team Awkward. It is not uncommon for something like this to happen to me and, out of necessity, I have a pretty good sense of humor. 

As the time ticked, several people came into the board room to try their hand at fixing the zipper. One fabulous employee came in declaring that he heard there was a problem with a gown and he was determined to fix it. Next thing I know, I'm standing in my undies and red high heels, wearing the kind gentleman's suit coat backwards, crossing my fingers that the dress could be saved.

Best pic I have... Doesn't do the situation justice

Alas, the dress was a lost cause. BUT... one of the women at the ball had an extra dress; a beautiful black gown perfect for the evening. She rushed in with the new-found spare, threw it to me, and I threw it on. I was so grateful that it fit well enough, and thankful to (Dana) for packing heavy! I marched proudly into the dining hall and had a great time Hosting the Heart Ball. Organizers have already said they'd like me to come back for next year's event... I'd be glad to... and I'll bring my whole wardrobe just in case! Thank you to everyone who's team work made an embarrassing moment into a memorable and funny story.

As an after thought... thinking back to all of the spills, rips and other wardrobe malfunctions that helped me earn the coveted title of Captain of Team Awkward, you'd think I would have learned to always bring a back up... From now on...

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