Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shopping for "The One"

It's interesting to remember how much I enjoyed dressing up as a child, considering how much I dislike it as an adult. Like most girls, I adored trying on my mother's high heels and her jewelry, and I loved watching her get ready for a party—the smell of Chanel No.5 still reminds me of sitting on her bed as she padded around the bedroom in her slip and stockings, then pulled on a black cocktail dress and applied bright red lipstick.

Later, I remember the excitement of having my hair done for my senior prom, and how beautiful I felt in the soft pink gown I wore. A lovely orchid corsage from my date supplied the finishing touch. Since then, though, the thrill of dressing up has been replaced by the joy of dressing down. But sometimes, I still need a fancy outfit for a wedding or other occasion. This week, I've been shopping for an long evening dress.

Most of the dresses I've seen would look gorgeous on a twenty-something-year-old, but not so much on me. At Nordstrom's yesterday, I did find a couple of dresses that seemed worth a try. One that I liked fit nicely in every regard, except around my waist, where it was (ahem) a tad too tight. The saleswoman assured me that a body shaper undergarment would do the trick. I'm sure she's right, but do I want to go through the entire evening feeling constricted? Some women are willing to endure pain for beauty. I'm not one of them.

Speaking of pain, high heels aren't so much fun these days, either. I've decided not to even think about shoes until I've found a dress. At Neiman Marcus, I tried on a pretty taffeta number. Fortunately, it was a little too big. I say fortunately, since the number that was way too big was the price. At Neiman's, I couldn't even find a sale rack.

I have had the occasional success story when searching for a fancy dress. Last spring, I desperately needed something to wear to a wedding. I perused the offerings at Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and every boutique at the local mall, with no luck. A couple of days later, I decided to wander through Bloomingdale's one more time, hoping that something I'd missed would catch my eye. Something did! On a sale rack jammed with shopworn clothes, I found a Burberry cocktail dress, drastically reduced. The dress was adorable, falling above my knees, with an empire waist. The fabric was silk, in a soft rose, silver, and pewter check. I had no idea Burberry even made evening clothes, but there it was, in perfect condition and just my size. I'd found "The One!"

This time around, even though I'm not looking forward to heading back to the evening wear trenches, I'm hopeful that among the sequins, beads, taffeta and satin, I'll find the perfect dress for me. And, if I'm really lucky, it will be on sale.

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