Unlike bathing suit or bra shopping, who doesn’t like shopping for a new dress? You get to try on numerous pretty creations and fantasize yourself at fun parties: laughing, dancing, having a great time.
Who am I kidding? I’m never that carefree about anything.
I worry about fit, and fabric, and price, and appropriateness. But I try. With a number of fancier events on the horizon, I have been in dress shopping mode for the last month.
As silly as it sounds, I prepare before dress shopping. I style my curly mop-top, put on a pair of Spanx, take care with my make-up, and try to gird myself with self-confidence. Credit card at the ready, I’m prepared to purchase.
“Can I help you?” The 60-something saleswoman swooped forward, cheerily calling out.
“Maybe.” I tentatively replied. “I’m looking for a dress for a fancy engagement party in August. Does this come in different sizes?”
I had made a specific trip to a ‘boutique specialty dress store’. Not my usual shopping venue but a neighbor had mentioned that she recently had luck there when looking for a dress for a wedding.
“What size are you?” The saleswoman continued.
“A 10, maybe a 12.” I had been exercising and watching what I ate and was down a couple pounds.
“OK. Let’s take the 12 and the 14.” She said eyeing me up and down.
Fine. I silently cursed. Fat shame me before I even try the damn thing on.
I went back to evaluating dresses. Trying to keep an open mind.
Light pink might look nice on me, my hair is graying and it brings out a rosy skin tone. And let’s see if there is something besides the ever slimming black.
“What about this?” She came flying forward with a bright red, sleeveless dress festooned with large flowers. The exact opposite of the tea length elegant, navy blue dress with appliques and a sheer boatneck and sleeves that I had picked out.
“NO!” I exploded before I could stop myself. No to red. No to sleeveless. No to flowers that would wear me instead of me wearing them.
Good mood and intentions suddenly gone, I said: “Where’s the dressing room?”
“Here try the 14 first.” She suggested unzipping a dress. “By the way, that bra is no good. I’ll get you a strapless one. It’s French. What size are you?”
Fine. But I wear French bras. Bitch. I thought silently.
As she zipped me up. I studied her in the mirror. She was tall and thin, about my age, but as my Jewish grandmother would have said; ‘no beauty.’ I walked out to the full-length mirror.
“Do you have Spanx on?” She asked.
“Well, you need stronger ones. Hold on.” And she brought me a pair: size XL.
Without thinking I headed back into the dressing room, stepped out of the dress and tried to put them on. WTF! They didn’t even fit over my thighs.
Suddenly I was angry.
“You know what?” I called out. “My Spanx are fine. I have some that go a little higher and are a little stronger, but I like to breath and eat and enjoy myself when I’m at a party.” I told her in a less than sweet voice.
What I didn’t say is… The dress fits and I’m not Kim Kardashian squeezing myself into clothes three sizes too small. I’m almost 62 and I’m working hard to be happy with the body I have.
“Can you take a picture of me in the dress?” I requested. “I want to ask my cousin if this is appropriate for the party.”
The dress did make me feel lovely.
“So, you’re going to buy it.” The saleswoman crooned when I emerged back in my own clothes.
I looked at her in disbelief. Did she really think she had made a sale?
“I’m going to think about it.” I said walking out to door. I had noticed the designer label. I could probably find it somewhere else.