Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Groom’s Side Part VII... Foundations of Dress Shopping

 Overwhelming view to the fashionably challenged
Her name was Marie and she “got” me. A short, stocky African-American woman with a big smile and a hearty laugh followed me into the dressing room and said “Now, what can I do for you Sugar?” She just seemed to know that spending a beautiful spring Saturday morning in a dress shop would never be my first choice. She understood that once I passed the particular task of choosing a dress for my son’s wedding, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the planned wedding activities.

My sister Betty ran around on the other side of the dressing door hanging up dresses she thought I’d like.  If you have followed the Groom’s Side at all (and I hope you have), you know that my body type is a challenge. Long torso with short legs puts my thick waist about 4” lower than a dress requires it to be. So…I avoid them. Completely. But about five minutes after my son got engaged; he leaned over and whispered in my ear “you’re wearing a dress”. And so I am.
As sisters, Betty and I have spent a lifetime watching each other’s backs, even though we are polar opposites. She’s thin, I’m not. She’s more aggressive, I’m more laid back. She’s black and white, I’m earth tones. So every time I heard a hanger clink on the hook outside of the dressing room, I wondered what was hanging out there. “Relax, Sugar, we’re going to get you into something you’ll love” Marie said sensing my anxiety. I had grabbed a couple of dresses on the way in so at least I had a starting point.
What I didn't have was a mirror. Seriously…there was not one mirror in this small closet. This forced me to try on a dress and go out to the showroom mirror, where I, a plus-sized, middle-aged mother of the groom, lined up next to amazingly built young girls trying on prom dresses. We looked like a line-up in the fashion police station and I looked like the guilty one who would get picked out every time.

Marie, got this too! "Come here Sugar", she said pointing to the dressing room. "Now. Do you have good foundation?" I rolled my eyes, "Marie, if I had good foundation I would be out there wearing one of those strapless mini's!" She laughed so hard that there was no sound coming out of her mouth. Just a hand waving in the air. "I'm not talking about your body, honey. I'm talking about your under garments." Oh.

I didn't think to wear my new Spanx, and Marie was quick to point out "You, need a little less here", she said pointing to my middle, "and a little more here", she added pointing north. "I will get something to fix that" she said exiting the dressing room. When I looked outside, Betty had several dresses hanging, waiting for my inspection. Amazingly, we seemed to be in sync with the selection. And oddly enough, it was a black dress with a white and black jacket (her signature colors) that I fell in love with first. 

Marie returned to the dressing room with what looked to me like a mummy wrap. Something I think they use to call a corset. "Here we go Sugar, turn towards the wall and watch this." (Did she forget there wasn't a mirror?) Seconds later, my mid section was inches smaller and, upper sections were definitely bigger. And higher! "Holy shit, are these mine?" I heard myself saying out loud as I looked down. Again, Marie was lost to silent laughter while waving a hand. "I don't care how much this cost. I'm buying it." I told her, not realizing it was $89 till I got to the register. But as my sister told the commission based sales woman "money is no object when it comes to her dress".

I then tried on the black and white dress, but I seemed to be the only one in the room who loved it. Betty was trying her best to be complimentary while not shaking my tender confidence  "It looks great from the front, but from the back, it's not really doing it for you." The words "wide load" came to mind. A young girl, about 16 yrs old was looking at me and silently shaking her head "no".  "Here" Betty said handing me a color I loved but a style I wouldn't have picked out. "Please, just try this on," she said pushing me toward the dressing room.

I obliged, mumbling to myself about buying the dress I wanted to wear, but was so glad I put on the dress she picked out. It was the last dress I had to try on. Surprisingly enough. This was it! This dress style gave me definition and made me feel good about wearing it. I had Betty text a picture of it to my niece in Florida, while I sent one to my future daughter in-law, the bride. She was kind enough to include me when she picked out her special dress, I wanted her to see this one. Besides, I knew I could count on their honesty and got quick responses of approval. Sold. Marie hurried me over to the seamstress for some minor alterations and parked me in a private booth. I thanked her for the attention and she turned and gave me a small hug "Sugar, I've been dealing with young divas in here for weeks. It was fun to have someone my age and size to play dress up with. Thank you for coming in."

When I got home, my friends were calling to hear about the dress. I really didn't want to go into too much detail, trying to keep it a surprise. Besides, I didn't even know how to describe it. But that problem was solved when the next morning on Twitter I saw my sister tweeting to the curious. "It's a copper brown empire with tiered fabric." And, now I know. Next up? The Shower!


  1. So happy for you... checking "the dress" off the list is such a great feeling :) Enjoy this moment in time, friend!
    Wishing you all the happiness.

  2. Thanks for the very kind words Patti! I am going to enjoy this!

  3. Thrilled for you! Have to say, I hooted with laughter reading this!

    Least Betty gave us a clue how the dress is styled! You know me, I have to know some detail!

    Can't wait to see the dress!!!


  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it and sooooo glad the hunt if over!

  5. So happy to hear you found a great dress that you and everyone else loves! Sounds really pretty! Can't wait to see pics. Amy (@Nantucketgal)

  6. Thanks Amy! I will def post pics once wedding happens!

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