Two of our good friends from college got married this weekend. So last week, I got to go shopping.
I started at Target, where the couple was registered, and bought them cleaning supplies. Boring, I know, but I scanned the registry, and it looked like the one section that no one had bought anything from, and there were several essential-looking things on there. I got the bucket and scrubber and dustpan they had registered for, then decided that the bucket made a convenient gift carrier, so I topped it up with some of my personal favourite cleaning products. And a thong. Because I could only be so boring.
Then I looked for dresses, and discovered that Target doesn't really have dresses. So I went to the mall.
Normally, I enjoy the occasional trip to the mall. But the mall near us really, really sucks. There is a video game store, so Jer can be kept happy for a while, but there is not a single clothing store there that carries anything I would wear. It's the ultimate suburban working woman's mall, and I am so far from their target clientele that they probably wish I wouldn't even shop there, because I might scare away the soccer moms. But, someone gave us mall gift cards for Christmas, and I really need to spend them sometime.
First off, as an aside, let me tell you that these mall gift cards are the worst gift cards ever created. First of all, the mall adds a surcharge onto them when you buy them, which is ridiculous, because they are making the obscenely high "people who forget to spend their gift cards" profit already. Second, they don't work at the detached mall stores that share the same parking lot where I actually shop, like Michael's and K-Mart and Ross. Third, when you try to use them at a store, the store has no way of checking the balance for you, you just have to know how much is still on them, or go to the mall when the customer service kiosk is open and get them to check the balance for you. And finally, if the amount of your purchase is higher than the amount remaining on the gift card, then it simply won't work. So as far as I can tell, the only way to spend the approximately $10 remaining on each of my gift cards is to find out the exact amounts by making a special trip to the mall kiosk, then shop around until I find two separate items that each cost, with tax, exactly the same amount that remains on one of the cards. Any more, and the cards won't work, any less, and there will eternally be a tiny, unspendable balance on the cards, that I probably wouldn't miss but I would rather it be anywhere else in the world other than in the pockets of the criminally greedy mall gift card people. </rant&rt;
I was looking for a pink dress. I don't own a lot of pink, and although there wasn't a dress code for the wedding, the bride had suggested that people wear pink if possible, since it is her favourite color. I thought that seemed like a neat idea, so I decided to try and oblige. If I was a smarter person, I would have started looking for a pink dress a couple of months ago, say, when it was summer and stores were still carrying pink clothes. But I am nothing if not a procrastinator, so no one can really be surprised that I found myself shopping for a dress three days before the wedding.
I walked in and out of at least half a dozen women's clothing stores before I even managed to find one pink dress. Once I did find a pink dress, which did, admittedly, look really nice on me, it was over $200 and a little on the formal side for a morning wedding with a gymnasium reception. I decided to pass on that one and keep looking. I struck out again in every women's clothing store in the mall, and finally decided to give some of the anchor stores a try.
Macy's made me the most hopeful of all of the stores, because the entrance I chose just happened to open into the juniors section, which carried the kind of dresses that soccer moms' rebellious teenage daughters like to wear to proms. I found several pink ones, priced in my hopeful range, and a few black ones with pink accents that I thought might work in a pinch. None of the pink ones looked even remotely good on me, and although I did fall in love with one of the black ones (one with dozens of layers of triangular gauzy skirts - I called it the "Good Witch Glinda" dress), I eventually set it aside based on my decision that one should not wear a strapless dress to a morning wedding, especially when one has very well-defined tan lines from ones only bathing suit.
Before giving up completely, I decided to make one, last-ditch stop at Sears. On my way to the women's wear section, I passed a clearance rack with a skirt that looked so much like it belonged it my closet that I couldn't help but notice it. I grabbed the skirt, promising myself it could be my $4 treat for all of my hard work shopping. I asked the helpful store clerk where the dresses were, and she told me Sears doesn't carry dresses anymore. I was a little surprised, and told her I wasn't looking for anything too fancy, but she insisted that they only have tops and skirts and one slinky black dress, which she pointed out to me. I asked if there might be any summer dresses on the clearance racks, and she shrugged. Thank you sooo much, helpful store clerk.
I spent about an hour digging through the clearance racks, and managed to dig up a couple pink skirts, several pink tops, and two pink dresses. I also managed to dig up a really funky pink suit jacket that I figured could be worn over a black dress to the wedding if none of the other options worked. I made my way back to the fitting rooms with my arms full, and a different store clerk told me not to worry about the fitting room limits, just bring back out whatever I didn't want. I found a few things I definitely wanted to buy, but the dresses didn't prove so simple. One of them was several sizes too big, but I figured I could take it in if necessary. The other one was a great colour, a comfortable shape, but it had a really busy pattern, and I genuinely could not make my mind up as to whether I liked it or not.
I asked a girl in the fitting room beside me, "What do you think, is this dress retro-cool, or someone's-grandmother?" She looked me up and down, and said, "Honestly, I think I would have to go with someone's-grandmother." I thanked her, and I fiddled with the belt a bit, and she said she liked it better tied a little higher, and I left just as undecided as I had been before. But, it was only $6, and I didn't fancy another trip back to the mall, so I bought the dress, as well as the pink suit jacket, and figured I could decide later.
After I got home, I modeled the dress for my mother-in-law, and she said she liked it, but somewhat hesitantly, so I still wasn't entirely sure whether I would wear it or not. But when I took it off, it turned inside out, and I noticed that the gauzy liner was sewn the right way to wear the dress with it on the outside. So, on a whim, I put the dress back on inside out, and asked the family members what they thought, and everyone agreed that, if I could get rid of the tags, it actually looked much nicer inside out.
So, I did some careful tag cutting, and strung some black beads, because I didn't really have any jewelry that would match it, and I threw the belt around my neck like a scarf. I think I can honestly say that this is the first time I have ever gone to a wedding wondering, "What if someone else is wearing the same dress as me? Right side out!"