Crying in Nordstrom’s

There has been an event on our calendar for some time—a 100th anniversary celebration of an organization my husband has belonged to for many years. I assumed it would be a coat-and-tie and nice dresses type of affair. Until last Friday, two weeks before the event, when I discovered it was formal. And by formal I mean black tie and long glittery gowns.

Oh. My. God.

My retired teacher lifestyle does not require formal wear. My wardrobe consists mostly of jeans and casual pants and tops. I am not a tiny person who can fit into just any dress pulled off the rack. I live in a body that requires, well, let’s just say, careful construction and styling of garments in order for me to look reasonably acceptable in this type of social situation.

For my husband, this was easy—he could just wear his short jacket choir concert tuxedo. When he mentioned that if need be, I could also wear my black choir concert dress, I was not amused.

I hit the ground running the next day. Contacted a friend who is a talented seamstress, has a great sense of style and knows where to find decent clothing. We both started looking online, realizing that between shipping time and alterations, that was a long shot, assuming I could even find something that fit. She suggested some boutique type stores or heading out to a mall where I could still find upscale department stores that stocked formal dresses.

So off I went to the Towson Town Center (which, like malls around here, has a lot of empty storefronts and a very different vibe post-Covid.) I needed to find something between mother-of-the-bride and overweight slut.

I must have tried on every dress in my size in Nordstrom’s. Nothing, Nada. Hideous. Lacy, matronly overlays. Bulges. Plunging backs and fronts. And insanely expensive. I literally was near tears but took a deep breath and plodded on to  Macy’s at the far end of the mall.

Things started out the same way, but at least Macy’s had more inventory. I found something that was sort of ok, it  was black with a little bit of bling—I could deal with it. And then as I was going to check out, I saw a dress hanging on what I suspect was a returns rack. And miracle of miracles, it was in my size. I took it into the dressing room, it fit well, I felt good in it, and my blood pressure finally started to drop. I texted a picture to my friend, and she approved. When I took it up to the register (along with the other dress, just in case), the cashier kept marking it down and re-scanning the tag and finally, she looked up and said, “You know, this is a final sale and can’t be returned.” I ended up paying $20 for it.

My seamstress friend, bless her, skillfully pinned the hem to accommodate all of my imperfections after our Monday night Chorale rehearsal. She will have it hemmed and ready in time. I bought sparkly sandals and scheduled a manicure and pedicure the day before. I will be ready for this bash, and I won’t have to wear my concert clothing. Not bad for a mission impossible dress search and near-meltdown in Nordstrom’s.  

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