brian_clarey by Brian Clarey

The biggest takeaway from this year’s Greensboro Fashion Week, for me, was the realization that kids — and not just mine — take a long time to get dressed.

Unfortunately, I had that epiphany a short second after I had introduced a children’s line of clothing, preparing the audience for their entry on the runway. When I slipped backstage, I saw that all the kids were still climbing into their fashionable little outfits, that I was gonna have to go back out there, cut the music and kill some time.

Brutal, man. But that’s the way it goes with live entertainment, and those moments with the kids, who walked the runway both Friday and Saturday night, were among my highlights this year as emcee.

The gig has other perks, too. I got a couple free suits, one of them shiny as a chromed-out Zippo with lapels that could slice a tomato. In spending so much time around attractive young people I reached the upper limits of my ability to suck in my stomach, which stands at five hours, not including intermittent breaks backstage.

But my finest moment came from the runway and crowds at Blandwood Mansion and the downtown Marriott, in the car with my daughter who needed a new dress for the Friday night show while my wife, who would normally oversee an operation like this, had to work.

“I’ve never been dress shopping before,” I told my 10-year-old.

She paused on this, then said, “Neither have I.”

Her other dresses were gifts or hand-me-downs, she explained. She had never chosen one for herself.

She doesn’t wear dresses very often, my little girl. On school days she’s limited to SMOD; she prefers pajama pants and denim on her down time.

At the store we moved through the junior misses selection, looking for that age-appropriate sweet spot: nothing too girlish, no bows or frills, but not something so sophisticated she’d look like a 4-foot-tall torch singer. She took four into the dressing room with her and emerged a reasonable time later with just one. She explained to me later that because she’d never been dress shopping before, she didn’t know she was supposed to come out and model each one.

She broke it out for the fashion show that night: a sleeveless black party dress with a flared skirt and an iconic silhouette, paired with ballet slippers and a subtly bejeweled cap she got last year.

And everywhere she went, people talked about the look.

See photos from Greensboro Fashion Week at

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