Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Quest

To some people, shopping for a dress is the most perfect possible way to spend an afternoon.

I am not one of those people.

However, several undeniable facts have been staring me in the face:

Fact #1: When it comes to attending weddings, jeans just don't cut it. Not even my best boot cuts.

Fact #2: The most suitable dress I own was last worn to the wedding of the current bride's older sister. Two weddings a few years apart...aunt in exact same dress. Question: Do I want to be that aunt? Answer: No.

Fact #3: My next most suitable dress happens to be ten years old. Still cute. Still fits. But, realistically, how long can one drag out the millennium?

Fact #4: Even if one decided that the millennium could stretch one more year (a sketchy proposal at best), that means buying new shoes, since the old ones that went with said dress are now kaput.

Fact #5: As much as I dislike clothes shopping, I would almost rather pull my own head off than venture out for shoes. Oh, you 6 mediums who prance through shoe departments plucking pairs of cuteness right and left...pity the poor 10 double-narrow, who slogs from store to store, the inevitable refrain ringing in her ears: "We're sorry, that style doesn't come in your size. But we do have this" *displaying the shoe equivalent of a wart with hair growing out of it* "Would you like to try it on?"

No. No, I wouldn't.

So. Goal: Buy cute dress in a good color, suitable for a late-afternoon wedding, that goes with existing shoes and doesn't break the bank. Really, how hard could that be?

Fast-forward through 4 hours, 8 stores, and a crosstown drive chasing down a dress in a bigger size which a sales associate assured me was available at another location, and yet...was not. I am now a wee bit cranky.

May I ask the designers of America just one question? What is so difficult about providing dresses for grown-up people? Seriously. I would like to know the answer to this question. The few dresses I found that didn't make me look like I was trying to be 18 again (believe me, I'm not--been there, ain't going back), and also didn't make me look like someone's aged mother (which I also am not) invariably cost upwards of $200. Am I the only 46-year-old in America on a budget who wants something other than a thigh-high skirt in garish cheap jersey or pleated navy polka dots? I think not. Where are our dresses, o designers of America?

Bereft of answers, I found myself, at long last, wandering through Nordstrom. The budget is why I didn't go there first, but I love Nordie's, and will always love Nordie's, for one reason: they absolutely refuse to put up any Christmas decorations--not a single strand of tinsel, not the tiniest star--until the day after Thanksgiving. In a day and age when we're subjected to Rudolph and his damn red nose two weeks before Halloween, a store that hews to traditional seasons is dear to my heart.

And then there's Desiree.

Desiree saw my frustrated, worn-out self and took me in hand. I gave her all my criteria--including the one I haven't yet mentioned, which is that this hypothetical dress needs to be on a plane with me in less than 24 hours--and she ran with it. In ten minutes, I had eight dresses to choose from. In twenty minutes, I had a dress. A great dress. The dress. AND it was on sale.

Desiree, I wish you kittens and rainbows and your own personal enchanted genie who will wash your car and clean your house and cook you scrumptious dinners forever.

Now: if only I can get everything into the carry-on, so I don't have to check luggage. I know, I know...I already have the moon, must I want the stars, too?

Yes. Yes, I must. Off to pack, darlings.


Katterley said...

Congratulations on a great new dress!! Hope you get your stars and moon, too! Wishing all the best to the new couple, too :)

mi said...

oh yay!
i'm so glad you found not only a dress but THE dress!
isn't it so refreshing (and surprising) when you actually come across great customer service?
have fun at the wedding!

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh, I feel you. Finding that perfect dress is not easy anymore - if you don't want to break the bank! I'm glad you found one you liked. I found one the other day into Dress Barn that I just adored - luckily it fit AND was only $40!

Christine Fletcher said...

Katterly--No stars & moon for me...I had to check a bag. But the bright side = No fighting for overhead bin space! Thanks for the good wishes, the wedding was BEAUTIFUL. Outdoors. In sunshine. With rose petals. And young people madly in love. *sigh*

mi, it really is a treat to get above-and-beyond customer service like that. Totally turned my attitude around from I-hate-this-why-can't-I-just-wear-jeans to Ooh, another pretty dress, yay! That Desiree, she'll go far.

Melissa, you got me beat (a little!) with your Dress Barn bargain. But I'm glad we both found keepers!

Lisa Nowak said...

Wow. I bet everyone goes to Nordstrom's and asks for Desiree now. I would if I had the misfortune of having to buy a dress. Which I hope never happens again in my life.

I feel for you. Great rant.:)

Christine Fletcher said...

Lisa, Colleen from Chasing Ray posted on Twitter that she bought a dress for HER niece's wedding--AND a pair of jeans--in less than an hour! Her strategy--she went to Nordstrom's FIRST. Hm. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Kirsty said...

Congratulations! hehe

Sally Nemeth said...

Looove Nordstrom's - not only because of the great service but also because of the SHOE dept. They carry large sizes, narrows (I'm an 8 AA) and they're stylin. And even if you pay a more, you gotta factor in "cost per wear". You'll wear that frock for many events to come because it's perrrfect. And...the photo please?

Christine Fletcher said...

It's true, I do get most of my shoes from Nordstrom's because they're the most likely to carry my size. (Not always, though, even they.) Spendy, yes...but high-quality and they do last, thank God, because to me hell = shoe shopping.

Pics are coming...none of mine are any good, so am waiting on the kindness of relatives. :)

The Hojo Family said...

Aunt Chris, I too HATE shopping for dresses! I asked Nichole if I could just wear a watermelon colored sweatsuit instead of a dress ;-) She didn't quite go for that - but she did let me wear sandals and no highheels!! lol

you looked beautiful in the dress you did find! I loved it! :-)

Christine Fletcher said...

Monica, your dress was gorgeous and YOU were gorgeous in it!! (I would've asked about the watermelon-colored sweatsuit too, though--never hurts to ask, right?) ;) And getting to wear flats instead of heels--THAT is a blessing.

The wedding was SO beautiful, and the best part was being with all of you. I hope to see you again soon!