Say No, Then Yes, To The Dress
Buying a new frock is not an activity I relish. I wish it were. I want to be one of those women who catches a glimpse of a something shiny on a rack on the far side of the store, tries it on, loves it and whips out her credit card, all within the space of five minutes. Me? I prowl the floor like a hungry snow leopard, and after much deliberation, grab an armful of frocks that seem promising, try them on, hate them and repeat the process until I end up hating myself.
At 57, I blame my ageing body. While I like my body ninety per cent of the time and believe it’s a perfectly serviceable, and even attractive, container for my soul, purchasing a frock reduces me to an anger ball of self-loathing. My large breasts and smallish hips ensure that buying a dress is a challenging, nay almost impossible, quest. Nothing fits. If a dress fits my boobs, the the skirt balloons on my hips. If a frock fits my hips, my breasts are all squashed up into a shapeless mass of mono-boob. It’s even worse trying to find a bathing costume, which also explains why I have not bought a new one of those for 10 years.
This quest, however, needed me to be brave. To dig deep. To drown out the inner voice of the ten per cent. My daughter was getting married and she required it. I wanted to go all out Carrie Bradshaw and wear a simple, statement, vintage suit, or channel Angelina Jolie in a gender-bending, yet cool, tuxedo. But no. That would never do. My daughter is all about appearances, even mine, and especially on the day of her wedding.
At my daughter’s behest, I tried shopping online and trawled through a number of popular sites, enthralled by gorgeous wrap dresses and their pleats and satin ties and flowing skirts. And coverage. My daughter and I would text each other a style and either reject or confirm aforementioned style. And, of course, cost. In the end we decided on a navy blue wrap, and I measured strategic areas, keyed in the correct size, whipped out my credit card and waited in anticipation, delighted with my impending purchase.
When my dress arrived a few days later, I opened the package. It was heavy. All that polyester, I guess. Tearing off a couple of layers of plastic packaging, I pulled it out of the bag. It was long. Much longer than I expected. I slipped out of my clothes and into the dress, and wrapped the front across my breasts and tied the satin ribbons around my waist. To my horror, it didn’t fit. What should have been ample cover across my girls was an acre of gaping, unconcealed cleavage. I tried a different bra. Nope. That didn’t work either. The ten per cent screamed accusations at me, and I vowed to book myself in for a breast reduction as soon as possible.
I reported back to my daughter, who suggested another online site and sent me another dress. I dug my heels in.
‘I need to go to a store and do a try on,’ I texted. ‘I don’t want to pay for something that may or may not fit, and then have all the inconvenience of having to post the damn thing back if it doesn’t.’
‘That’s why you click and collect, Mum,’ she texted back. I could sense her eyeroll through the phone. ‘Order it and try it on at the store. If it doesn’t fit, you get your money back.’
I wasn’t convinced, because if the frock didn’t fit I was still minus a dress and waiting for a refund, so I hit up the department stores as a last resort.
I wandered the floor of a well known store, hoping that something would jump out at me, and ended up in a section for curvy women, relieved at the promised land that had been delivered to me. I spied an emerald green satin number with a terrifying price tag. It was long and akin to a Kaftan, but with a matching, self-tied belt. I grabbed a navy dress with a halter top, also in satin. I collected a green spotted wrap, a floral chiffon with a side zip, and a blue silk empress style with an elasticised waist. None of them fit. None fit for two large reasons, and I left the change room in disgust, loathing my body’s inability to fit into normal clothes that, clearly, other people’s bodies could fit into with ease.
I refused to give up and found more dresses to try on. And more reasons to hate myself. I texted my daughter, who wasn’t keen to extend me any sympathy. ‘I told you to just shop online,’ she texted. Her exasperation was palpable.
Leaving the department store, I wandered up the mall to a chain store. I’d visited this shop the week before, with daughter in tow, but it was a cursory skim of the offerings. This time, sans offspring, I could meander the aisles in peace. I took the escalator up to the second floor, and caught a glimpse of something promising on a rack on the other side of the floor. It was a steel blue maxi in a satin. Less than fifty bucks, so I reached for two different sizes. Around the corner on another rack, was a Grecian-style dress in a darker blue. The Earth moved beneath my feet. This is it. This was The One, and – thrilled – I grabbed two for sizing, just in case. I hoped and prayed it loved me as much as I loved it. So convinced was I that I put the first maxis I spotted back on the rack.
In the fitting room, I pulled the smaller Grecian over my head. The skirt flowed over my hips from the nipped in waist, elongating me and giving me legs that went on forever. My breasts sat neatly in the bodice, doing exactly what they were told. The colour flattered the silver in my hair and green of my eyes. I asked the attendant to take a picture to send my daughter. She approved. ‘It’s lovely,’ she texted. I heaved a sigh of relief.
‘And only sixty bucks,’ I texted back. ‘I’m so freaking happy.’
I was so happy, in fact, that I whipped out my credit card in the space of five minutes, and vowed never to shop for another dress again. I have The One. And we are in love. And it is forever.
Feel free to buy me a cup of tea (or two!) for writing this essay ♥