Friday, May 6, 2011

The Great Quest for THE Dress...(or How The Universe Put Me In My Place)

So for the past few days I have been publicly bemoaning my unsuccessful search for THE perfect dress for my daughters’ college graduation ceremony, which is in one week from tomorrow.

As you may know, I am an avid thrift store shopper. I buy about 99% of my clothing secondhand and have a huge stuffed-full "Carrie" closet to prove my bargain hunting capabilities (ie: clothing addiction!)
My entire wardrobe probably costs about the same as most people pay for an outfit.

This collection includes about 17 dresses of various styles, many of which I have never worn, but could not pass up priced at only a few bucks, figuring their time would come eventually!
About 12 of those were appropriate for this special I never even thought about needing to find a dress-I had a whole store in my closet to choose from!

As a side note...
are you familiar with the weather in Seattle?
No doubt you have heard that it rains alot.
Like several months in a row, right?
Except this year.
I think it started raining daily around Sept. 28th.
Today is May 5th.
And it rained today.
We also got about 27 snowfalls, and a few hailstorms over this long winter.

Now, I am not really complaining.
I don't mind fact, we listen to a CD of rainfall to go to sleep by every single night (when we are not able to listen to the real thing).
It is relaxing, and I enjoy the quiet calm of snuggling up inside while it is cold, damp & dreary outside...
reading, listening to music, creating, watching movies...
More than usual.
More than if it was NOT raining and I was not transformed into a slug.
Apparently I ate my way through the past almost 8 months.

Mainly daily selections from the four crummy weather food groups:

(with generous sides of pretzels and pumpkin bread) you've figured out where THIS little saga is leading...

right to
(and hips, and thighs and tummy and rear...
and even my upstairs, which definitely do NOT need any stuffing!)

Lady lumps INDEED!

Which led me to a very dreaded place...

The Mall.

Now, I am a self professed, pretty-darn-proud-of-myself shopping queen,
but not so (at all) into the mall scene.
I usually try limiting my need to subject myself to teenage Friday night flashbacks to about twice a year.

Unless Yankee Candle is having their dollar tart sale...
or I am craving a Cinnamon Chip scone from Panera Bread.
(one which happens too infrequently and the other far too frequently...OBVIOUSLY!)

Calling for drastic measures.

I rarely shop in "real" stores...
so I wasn't really sure how to go about finding this Perfect Dress.

So off to The Mall I went.
With more than 175 shops (it says so on their website, I checked!), I figured how could I NOT find a dress that I liked...

How amusingly innocent I was back then. (3 days ago)

I have been up front about the fact that I dislike The Mall, but did I mention that I also hate to try on clothes at stores?
Love to look, hate to try on.
And also-love to shop, HATE to shop with a mission (and deadline!).

But I digress...

After several hours of browsing/scouring approximately 174 of The Mall stores, I was only pleased about one thing:

That I had only had to endure the torture of trying on THREE dresses.

Because all of the other 248,961 dresses I saw
were CRAP!
(except the one that made my heart race at Nordstroms-my first time setting foot in that store-which almost turned into a heart attack when I saw price tag...
That is like the ultimate go-crazy shopping spree amount at Goodwill!
I was laughing and hightailing it out of there at the same time!)

So most of the CRAP dresses I saw fell into these categories:

Cute...for a 12 year old.
Too short/mini...unless you are 18 years old.
Fell at a weird length...on an almost 6 ft tall woman such as myself.
Too strapless...unless you are of strapless age, which I no longer am.
Too black...for a 3 pm event.
Too hot...for a deep South event. (Macon, Georgia, y'all)

Too something...
or not enough something.


And too add insult to injury, Panera was out of cinnamon scones, so I could not even console myself!(with one of the very things which had put me into this predicament!)

And by the way, as a side rant...
Can I not walk more than 10 feet in The Mall without someone wanting to spray me with perfume, rub lotion on my hands, put a fake horsetail of hair on my head, sell me a cell phone, give me a massage or beg me to try a piece of deep fried animal flesh?!
Sorry...that is probably a post for another day of blogging...
(but jeeze...really??! Can you not tell that I AM ON A MISSION?!)

So I decided to walk across the street (it was actually a sunny day!)
to check out Target, Kohls and Plato’s Closet. (can you sense my mounting desperation?)

And again...
Goose egg.

After almost 5 hours of shopping defeat, I am exhausted.
Physically and mentally.

I crankily called Jeff to come and get me.

As I sat outside Kohls in the cooling air of the late afternoon, I tried to think of other places to look and brainstorm alternative options.

But mostly, I fumed.
And rued the fact that I was so tall.
And bemoaned my expanded waistline.
And mourned my long-gone 18 year old body (which would have had HUNDREDS of cute new dresses to choose from!)
And felt increasing anxiety about one more seemingly impossible task to add to my far too lengthy things-to-do-before-leaving-on-a-23-day-trip-to-do-list.

And generally just felt big-time sorry for myself.

I wanted to look good & feel good at this special occasion.
I wished that I could just wear jeans. And envisioned resorting to having to wear something NOT perfect.

And as I sat there with my increasing anxiety, I heard nearby laughter…

I looked up from my self-induced fog to see two women walking towards the store entrance from the parking lot.

They were not old, but not young either. Maybe a bit younger than me, say, mid-forties.

One woman had on jeans and a nice top.
Her hair was lovely and she was pretty, and looked happy,
smiling and laughing with the other woman at her side…
And that other woman…she had pretty, dark eyes…

And that was all I could tell about how she looked…

Because otherwise…
she was covered from head to toe.

She wore a dark brown burqa and brown shoes.
Which matched her eyes.

I don’t know what she was wearing underneath the layers of dark fabric.

I shamefully wondered how I could be so…so...

I don’t even know what the word is.
Superficial? Spoiled? Bratty? Materialistic?


that freedom of choice is not a given.
Not guaranteed.
Not universal.

that it is a blessing,
and a gift,
and an honor.

Which I was badly abusing and taking for granted and turning into a burden. 

I may not have liked the choices I found that afternoon of searching for The Dress.

But at least I had the freedom and opportunity
to choose.

The happy ending?
After a few more enjoyable hours of searching the next day, I found not one, not two, but THREE “perfect dresses”. I got them all, and spent less than $20 total.
Good old Goodwill…! (why didn’t I just start THERE?!)

The moral of this experience?

The ability to peruse crappy choices are better than not being allowed to choose at all.

That woman in head to toe dark brown had happy eyes.
I should know better than to think that clothes make the women.
She was beautiful.
And I was petty.

And I am very, very lucky.

Remembering that will make it easier to be…

Happy Me-Laurie Z!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post Laurie, and I'm glad you found what you wanted.