Monday, January 31, 2011

In Which I'm Pleasantly Surprised by Buying a Dress

As you, dear reader, may recall from a couple columns back, I spent some time being nervous about buying a dress. Fear and trepidation struck deep into my heart. To put it delicately, getting blood drawn while beekeeping seemed more appealing than buying a dress.
As dress shopping day grew nigh, I got increasingly sketched out. Since my mom and I were driving to Denver - about an hour from my parents' house - for this most sacred and blessed of rituals, it was going to be an all-day excursion. However, since both my favorite bookstore and my favorite Mexican restaurant are in Denver, I hoped to convince my mom that book shopping and enchilada consuming would be far more fun than looking for a wedding dress.

It didn't work.

And so we arrived at the dress shop bright and early on a late December morning. When we walked in, the saleswoman with whom we had an appointment got me set up in a fitting room. I told her my budget - no more than $350 - and she took some measurements and came back with a handful of dresses. I tried the first one on. It was gorgeous. I looked at the pricetag.

Just as I was about to mention that $600 was definitely outside my price range, bedlam broke loose. Two four-year-old girls bedecked in frilly flower girl dresses were twirling wildly all over the bridal fitting area, accompanied entourage of NINE PEOPLE. Now, these girls weren't rappers, so they didn't need to roll with a posse. And no one in this entourage of nine adults seemed to be in a supervisory role as they cooed and fawned over the twirling toddlers.

This, then, begs the question: WHY BRING NINE PEOPLE? I mean, hell, I didn't even bring nine people for my day of wedding dress shopping. If I was scoping out flower girl dresses, I sure as shit wouldn't want nine people there. But for whatever reason, these girls were rollin' with their homies, and, in a nod to Antoine Dodson, they were climbin' in the bridal salon', snatchin' your floor space up.

In the midst of the flower girl dress mayhem, one of Those Brides walked up and, in a moment of sublime entitlement and snottery, demanded that the saleswoman helping me pull every blue bridesmaid's dress in the store for her friends to try on. Every. Single. One. Immediately.

Since it was early in the day and the saleswoman I was working with was one of the only people on staff, she had no choice but to help Miss Thang and her Burning Need for All the Blue Dresses. So there I stood, wearing a dress well beyond my means, trying to keep the twirling flower girls from stepping on my feet, watching Miss Thang roll her eyes impatiently while waiting for all the blue dresses to arrive. Preferably in a horse-drawn carriage and on hangers made of pure gold.
I wanted to hide. I looked at my mom, panicked, and suggested that perhaps I'd be better off taking cover in the dressing room. My mom had the same idea and thought this sounded great, but sadly, social norms and etiquette precluded such a thing from actually happening.

Thankfully, though, the flower girls and their entourage quickly left. Miss Thang finally had, like, 87 blue dresses to examine. I could breathe again.

That seemed like an appropriate time to bring up the budget issue. Now, apparently studies have shown that most brides will buy one of the first dresses they try on. And, also apparently for most brides, budgets are mere guidelines as opposed to hard and fast rules. So, if when a bride walks in for her appointment she's given some gorgeous dresses to try on that are outside her price range, chances are she'll say to hell with the budget and buy one.

Not I, my friends. Not I. I remarked to the saleswoman that I really needed to stick with my no-more-than-$350 rule, and to my surprise...she was totally chill about it. I expected some sort of MIC-inspired schtick about how this is the most important dress I'll ever buy, but she didn't even go there. Instead, she said "no problem" and led me over to the clearance rack, noting that it would be my best bet for finding something within my price range. 

In under 15 minutes amongst the clearance racks, my mom and I found eight dresses that I liked. I tried them on and quickly narrowed it down to two. They were similar cuts - both halter necklines - and I really liked them both. As I stood there contemplating this momentous decision, I felt my neck start to itch. The fabric along my collarbone felt like sandpaper. I looked in the mirror and saw a gnarly, prickly, bright red rash breaking out under the beads on the neckline. I mean, I know that breaking into hives is a hot motif in wedding fashion these days, but I decided that since I appeared to be allergic to the fabric under the beading, this probably wasn't the right dress. Tough call, I know.
In a move that will shock the masses, I bought the one that didn't give me some nasty skin condition resembling chickenpox of the neck and collarbone. Happily, since it was on clearance, it was marked down to $300. But, even more happily, when we took it to the register, it was also on sale. On sale and on clearance! My heart was aflutter with dreams of saving money.

All told, it was $250. Even with some minor alterations, it still comes in under my $350 maximum. Now that's what I call a mothafuckin' victory.

So, while the day started out rather badly, it ended on an awesome note, and I left with a gorgeous - and very budget-friendly - dress in hand.


  1. But did you get an enchilada and a book, ya know since you were so efficient and budget-friendly?

  2. YAY FOR YOU!!!! also, I really really hope you La Fogata-ed the heck out of those enchiladas!!!

  3. I too long for a cheap wedding dress. Can I ask where you went? I would much rather save money on the dress to have more to spend on books and Mexican food!

  4. Lindsey - I actually went to David's Bridal. (Whoda thunk it, right?) But seriously, they had a huge clearance rack, and there were plenty of reasonably priced dresses. And more money for books and Mexican food = joyous celebration!

  5. Ms. lpbbunny above is my daughter and we are taking part in the sacred hunt for 'the dress' over the next couple of weeks. I have been told to dress comfortably, eat a hearty breakfast, bring a few portable snacks, a bottle of water and a double dose of Prozac. Although an Eisenhower in most aspects of my life, I suddenly see my role usurped--I've been out-flanked and out-ranked by lpbbunny...I have been told that I should nod approvingly when my daughter finds 'the dress' and if she should ask 'does this dress make my ass look big', I'm not supposed to blurt out the first thing I was thinking but to ask her how SHE likes it. ;-)