Shopping for swimsuits can be stressful. Trying on jeans is no picnic. But shopping for a special-occasion dress? The only thing trickier than shopping for a special-occasion dress is shopping for a special-occasion dress on deadline.
Yes, I’ve been there.
Whether it’s trying to land a dress for the homecoming dance, a black-tie- optional wedding or some other soiree, dress-shopping can be easy, but quite often it is not.
Of all my most memorable shopping experiences, most involve a dress. Several of these memories don’t involve me shopping for a dress but rather being in the company of someone else shopping for a dress.
I can remember being in New York with my mother and a cousin almost 20 years ago. The cousin was in search of a dress to wear to her daughter’s wedding. Shopping? New York? Block after block after block of stores? Surely, we could find her a dress.
We could not.
Instead, she bought everything but a dress. We piled into cabs with shopping bags filled with pants, tops and shoes – but no dress. Sure, she tried on dresses but none seemed right. She ended up buying her dress in Buffalo.
Another time, I volunteered to take my then-14-year-old godchild shopping for a dress to wear to her confirmation, which was the next day. She and her mother had run out of luck finding the right dress, and now they were running out of time. I’ll take care of this, I told her mom.
Not yet a mother myself, I thought “Gee, how hard can it be to find a dress for a 14-year-old?”
Ha! I say now.
Anyway, we scoured the town for a dress – Northtowns, Southtowns and all points in between. As I recall, we ended up buying two dresses, so that she and her mother could decide on one of them later that day.
A happy ending, but exhausting.
Of course, I’ve shopped for dresses for myself through the years. I’ve bought dresses I’ve worn just a couple of times and dresses I’ve worn too many times to count. I’ve gone shopping for a dress and ended up buying dressy pants. Mostly, I’ve shopped for dresses at the eleventh hour.
“Why do you always wait until the last minute?” my mother will ask.
Now, with a daughter of my own, I’m reminded of the other things mothers always say when it comes to dresses:
• “Just try it on. It always looks different off the hanger.”
• “Please open the door so I can see it.”
• “Turn around. Let me see the back.”
• “Can you sit down in that?”
• “Maybe they can check another store.”
• “The mall closes in 20 minutes.”
• “You’re the one who has to wear it.”
• “No, you do not need a smaller size.”
• “I don’t know if anyone else will be wearing the same dress.”
• “What shoes will you wear with that?”
And, once home: “Don’t cut off the tags until you decide for sure.”