Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Diss Dressed

I have a pink house dress that I bought a few years ago.  It is a bright, cheerful pink, and it's a cool, comfortable material, and it even has pockets!  In my mind, I like to picture it like this:
Except, of course, pink, and with pockets. [Source]
Unfortunately, it doesn't look at all like that, and most of the disparity isn't due to color or presence of pockets.  It's always wrinkly in spots (yes, I've tried ironing it), it always shows my bra straps, and now that I'm a nursing mom, its empire waist comes up too high and sits right across my bust.  Which looks ridiculous.

I need to give this dress away.  It looks terrible on me, and I doubt that will ever change.  Every now and then, I put it on, in hopes that it will have magically transformed into a dress that suits me perfectly.  Of course, I am always disappointed.

I'm finding it hard to part with this dress, mostly because it's the only dress I own that can just be worn around the house.  For a long time, I only had one other dress that could even be worn to church.  The rest of my dresses are all evening-wear, worn once or twice in my life to a dance or banquet or wedding, and unlikely to ever see the light of day again.  Much of my remaining wardrobe is comprised of graphic t-shirts that feature such hilarious images as a salsa jar gesturing towards a eyelash-batting hot pepper saying "This is why I'm hot" and a woeful pencil asking a mischievous-looking eraser, "Why you hatin'?"  They're fun, but they're silly, and sometimes I don't want silly.  I want feminine.

So, I made a plan last Saturday to spend the afternoon shopping for dresses while my husband watched the baby.  I was eagerly looking forward to the adventure.  I love spending time with my daughter, but shopping with her in tow can be difficult, and it's extremely rare that I get time to do it (or much of anything else) alone anymore.  And here I would have a couple hours not only to myself, but also set aside to find lovely articles of clothing!

Before my shopping excursion, we went out to lunch at Baja Fresh (which, by the way, is amazing).  I realized with dismay as we got out of the car that I had forgotten the coupon I'd saved from a mailer.  We rarely eat out without one, and the knowledge that a five dollar off coupon was just sitting idly in a drawer at home made me want to cry.  My husband offered to go back and get it, but by that time we were both ravenous and it seemed ridiculous to spend the extra time and gas.  After a few minutes, I gathered my senses together and decided to have a good time anyway --  but not before I managed to completely alienate another mom who smiled my way and was met with my own bitter scowl, because smiling back was just! too! hard! five dollars! sob!

After lunching, we dropped by a new frozen yogurt shop that was giving away ten free ounces of yogurt and toppings per customer all day.  Naturally, the place was packed.  We soldiered on, however, never ones to be deterred from availing ourselves of free yogurty goodness, especially in light of the earlier coupon tragedy.  We even got a tiny bit of strawberry yogurt for the baby.  She wasn't a big fan; I suspect she disapproved of how cold it was.

As we walked back to the car after finishing our yogurt, we started to feel raindrops.  Real slow at first, and then faster, faster.  They continued all the way home, and by the time I sat down to nurse the baby before my departure, it was pouring.  I kept expecting it to stop, as it often does this time of year after a very hard rain, but it didn't let up.  Finally, I decided to just go anyway.  Who cared about a little rain?

I parked in a lot on campus that's free on weekends and close to downtown.  Down the street I strode, bright red, slightly broken umbrella in hand, hot pink purse slung over my shoulder.  The first clothing shop I happened upon was a trendy little store filled with fair-trade blouses made in India and $200 jeans with holes in the knees.  There was a bright, colorful dress hanging on one of the front racks -- pretty, summery, fanciful, perfect!  One of the hip young employees stowed it away in a dressing room for me.  I took a look around the rest of the store, but I didn't see any other dresses I liked, so I went in to try it on.

Ugh.  Nothing makes me feel uglier than when I look in the mirror on an ugly day after looking at someone beautiful.  Both of the girls working at the store were gorgeous.  One in particular had amazing, feathery black hair and expertly applied eye makeup that did wonders to enhance her natural beauty.  And there I was, with my mismatched purse and umbrella, my "Why you hatin'?" shirt, and my hair so frizzed out from the rain I almost looked like a clown -- except my makeup was all worn off and I looked pasty, pale, and exhausted thanks to the dark circles under my eyes.  UGH!!

I tried on the dress, hoping I would feel prettier in it.  "How is it fitting?" one of the girls asked.  I infused my voice with all the chipper cheerfulness I could muster as I replied, "Great!"  And I was convinced.  I had told her it was great, ergo, it was great!  I would buy it!  And feel feminine and fine!

The especially gorgeous employee checked me out.  I paid with a credit card, so she asked to see my ID.  In the process of paying, I told her that I loved her hair, and she informed me that it wasn't even real, but extensions.  As she looked at my driver's license, she said, "Oh, did you have long hair in this picture?"  I confirmed that I did, and she asked when I'd cut it short.  I replied by way of telling her that I had an eleven-month-old daughter, hoping to explain not only my haircut but my frazzled appearance.

Despite feeling ugly in my current outfit and with my frizzball hair, I still felt potentially pretty due to my purchase, so I continued on to another shop.  It was a vintage clothing store, and I must say, visiting it was a truly glorious experience.  There were so many lovely pieces!  The kind lady working there was very knowledgeable and eager to help me find something I'd like.  I tried on quite a few dresses, and was honestly surprised to discover that most of the smalls were too small for me.  But, I did find one lovely pink dress from the 1970s.  It's too fancy to be a house dress, but you can bet your $200 holey jeans (or your $5 Baja Fresh coupon) that I wore to Mass the next day.
Pretty!  And not just in my imagination.

That is the good news.  For the bad news, let's back this bus up to Saturday: as soon as I arrived home, I modeled my purchases for my husband.  It was then that reality came crashing down: the hip, modern dress looked awful on me.  AWFUL.  So pretty on the rack.  But ridiculous on my body.  I quickly scoured my purse for the receipt: exchanges and store credit only, no refunds.
Say it ain't so, Mom!
So now I gotta go back to the trendy-spendy shop and try to find something else.  I'm hoping that there's a cute blouse or dress that I didn't notice the first time (that's close to the price of my original purchase).  Rest assured that when I go, it will not be raining and I will not be wearing a goofy graphic tee. 

Maybe I'll wear my vintage dress!  That'll throw 'em.


  1. I hate when I get home and realize I didn't love something I's those sparkly mirrors that are so clean and make you feel like you like great!

    The vintage dress looks really pretty, you can't beat pink! I just bought my first vintage dress off of etsy (it's orange)...I tend to do all my shopping online because it's easier, a little too easy.

    I have been shopping at thrift stores lately (I guess consignment is a better term, but not trendy ones) That way if I decide I don't like something, I can resell it and buy something different.

    Also, E is a perfect mix of you and your hubby!

  2. This post is just way too cute :) You have a gift for writing!

    I love that vintage dress...the ruffles are so pretty and the color pink is just really great! I'm sorry your other dress didn't look right though, and I really hope you can find something different at the store!

  3. I love this. I have a hard time finding clothes and dresses I like. I'm not much of a dress person so when I find one I really like, I get so excited! And my goodness your daughter is adorable. I'm sure you'll find something lovely the next time you go back :) I love the dress that you did buy!

  4. Love love the vintage pink dress! I need to do some cute summer dress shopping myself. Hope you can find something at that store!

  5. Aww...I want to see you in the pink dress. And I want to see a pic of the awful dress. :)
    Yes, I'm a tad demanding.

  6. Also can I mention I'm jealous you have a new dress! I would love to go dress shopping! :D

  7. I concur, the pink dress is SO cute!! :-) I can totally sympathize with your shopping experience though! I have a love/hate relationship with shopping. I love browsing around looking at all of the cute clothing (on the rack!), but trying it on is a completely different story. Why are dressing room mirrors so utterly unforgiving? ;-)and I was cracking up about your comments about the gorgeous employees.

    Thanks for sharing the story, and I hope your next shopping excursion is full of successes!

  8. Thanks for all the love, girls!! :) You're all so sweet!
    I went back today and exchanged the dress for a pair of denim capris. I was delighted because, until today, the only pair of denim capris I owned (or have ever owned) were from 1999. And they look it. So I'm still on the hunt for cute dresses, but I'm excited about my new pants!