It's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
Heavenly Mom Strikes Again
About four years ago, two smart and sexy grandmas decided to fix up their grandchildren. Last spring, in the midst of Covid, the efforts of my mom and her dear friend were finally rewarded in an engagement. Though we're deeply saddened Mom won't physically be with us in November when our oldest son will marry the girl of his dreams, her spirit continues to move in mysterious ways.
Contrary to most normal mothers of the groom, my biggest challenge in preparation for the wedding has been finding a dress. I haven't even worn a dress or skirt, since our younger son's Bar Mitzvah 17 years ago. My go-to attire for special events in anywhere from 20 to 90 degree weather has been a dressy blazer and pants. Not only is this pantsuit perfectly paired with practical shoes, but it's forgiving of figure flaws.
Nevertheless, I decided to leave my comfort zone for this momentous occasion by exploring the world of formal dress shopping. After several failed online attempts, I was shocked to find that even the racks in the downtown department stores were sparse.. A sales associate explained that manufacturers cut down on their merchandise, as they anticipated a huge decline in formal events due to Covid.
I felt hopeful when I found a lovely long lace gown at a local dress shop. But it needed a higher neckline and long sleeves to cover the egg shaped fistula on my arm from past dialysis treatments.
Since the owner was out of town, I called her a few days later to discuss the price of the alterations. Then she contacted the dress designer, and got back to me right away. It seemed like a fairly reasonable price, but I wanted another opinion on the dress. So my best friend graciously offered to meet me at the dress shop.
When we introduced ourselves to the owner, I never thought we'd become intimately acquainted. She barged into the fitting room while I was trying on the dress, and adamantly ignored my objections by stating, "That's what we do here."
This brought back memories of my first bra fitting, followed by the fifth grade class pushing me into the girls bathroom for a closer look under my see-thru peasant blouse. I think several of the boys lined up too, and there was some grabbing involved, but the teacher didn't seem to mind. Of course, I really wasn't ready for a bra at 10. This was confirmed the following summer when I was wearing a t-shirt at the pool, and the waitress said, "Your lunch order's ready, young man."
Meanwhile, back at the dress shop…I was relieved when my dear friend also liked the dress on me. The next step was for the owner to have the designer send me some sketches of how the dress would look with long sleeves and a higher neckline.
Before the sketches were sent, the owner said she’d contact the designer to find out the price. Though I tried reminding her that she had already quoted me a price, she adamantly denied it, and reiterated the tremendous amount of work it would take to design a custom fitted dress in two to three months.
I soon realized there was no point in continuing to reason with her, because the owner was clearly trying to pull a fast one on me. I played along knowing full well she was going to hike up the price, while I continued to look for another dress on the down low.
Just months before the big event, the Dress Nazi finally got back to me. When I heard the price was more than double her original quote, I began to wonder what else she was lying about. Would there be other hidden fees and more importantly would the dress even be ready in time for the wedding?
It was time to call in The Fixer. Though I had lost touch with my dear, stylish childhood friend, he always had great instincts and never folded under pressure. No, he didn't offer to rub out the Dress Nazi, but I'll always be grateful for what he did instead.
I recognized the name of the seasoned downtown dress designer, because my fabulous future daughter-in-law found her lovely wedding gown there. However, it wasn't until The Fixer explained that the designer previously had a dress shop in the suburbs, that I remembered my mom singing her praises. But I drew a blank on the details.
Coincidentally, my best friend, The Fixer, and I all grew up on the same street, and the three of us were off to see The Dress Wizard. I found a dress immediately. and the designer had excellent ideas about raising the neckline and adding long sleeves. She also accompanied me into the fitting room, but in a much kinder and gentler way.
Even the pattern designer who took my measurements seemed to have been skilled in psychiatric training, as I stood in my bloomers pleading, "Do you mind doing this blindfolded?"
Memories flashed before my eyes like the time my late doctor introduced me to a nurse by saying, "She's not fat, it's her liver."
Fortunately, my friends were in agreement that this dress was "the one," and my husband also signed off on the text photo. Then The Fixer suggested I wear one of my mom's classic brooches to complement the dress, so I could hold her close to my heart at the wedding. Just thinking about it still moves me to tears.
Then it hit me. I showed the delightful designer a photo of the dress Mom wore to my wedding 34 years ago. Without skipping a beat, she remembered designing the one of a kind Oscar worthy creation for my beautiful mom. If there were ever a sign that I chose the right dress, this was it.
(with my brother, grandma, and mom in June 1987)
Ahh. Dresses. Such a challenge! Just spent an ugly several sessions searching for one for a family black tie wedding in August. It's a Covid-delayed wedding re-do. I actually bought a dress two years ago for it...but two years is a long time to have second thoughts. This time I brought two dresses home, and both of them to the seamstress. I preferred one, but didn't know if it could be hemmed. I'd have her work on dress two if one couldn't be hemmed. Thankfully, all was good with the dress I liked and I returned dress two. In the end, the undergarments I needed to purchase exceeded the cost of the dress I returned (which was on sale). I'm torn between hoping I never have another black tie event to attend, or that I have sixteen of them, so I can wear the dress again and again, validating the cost of the dress, the alterations, the undergarments AND the dress I bought two years ago and never wore!ReplyDelete
I'm glad your mom made her presence known!
I haven't worn a dress in years either. That's great that you found the designer who designed your mom's wedding dress. I hope you enjoy wearing your dress and have an awesome time at your son's wedding.ReplyDelete
It just goes to show how small the world is.You never know who you will meet again. The dress looks lovely.
Have a wonderful month of July.
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange
Great story! Glad everything turned out so well -- the Universe conspired to help you!ReplyDelete
Your dress looks great. Enjoy the wedding!ReplyDelete
What a lovely story! I love that pic too.ReplyDelete
Hope you're well, Julie.
That’s a touching story. I think your dress is stunning! Truly the right choice. <3ReplyDelete
Liza - Sorry your dress shopping caused you so much aggravation, but it sounds like you made the right choice in the end. Darn undergarments! This reminds me of when we were recently playing a board game with our kids, and they had no idea what a girdle was. SPANX a lot for making me feel old! Have fun at the wedding! Thanks Liza!ReplyDelete
Natalie - Thank you so much, Natalie! We're really looking forward to the wedding!
Pat - Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG, Pat! My dress still isn't ready yet. The photo below is at my wedding in 1987 with my mom in her showstopper dress. Sorry the original caption was confusing.
Debra - I definitely agree it was a sign from the universe. My mom's still looking out for me! Thanks Debra!
Rachna - Thank you so much, Rachna!ReplyDelete
Michelle - I can't believe that photo was taken 34 years ago! It's one of my favorites with my mom, grandma & brother. My hubby was probably having some delicious hors d'oeurves at the time! I'm fine and hope you're doing well too. Thank you, Michelle!
Chrys - I think you must be talking about my mom's dress at our wedding in 1987. Sorry for the confusion with the original photo caption. Thanks Chrys!
It was meant to be.ReplyDelete
And glad it's not that much trouble for a dude.
Sorry, this just showed up in my Feedly reader this morning!
GEM JULIE ~ReplyDelete
Hokey-Smoke! Dress Nazis, Dress Wizards, Fixers, and intrigue at every turn. Methinks you have the beginning of a film or TV series here. What shall we call it? 'The Godmother'? 'The Deadly Dressmakers'? 'The Real Sopranos'?
>>... I was wearing a t-shirt at the pool, and the waitress said, "Your lunch order's ready, young man."
Yeah, that happened to me once, too. But for me, it probably wasn't as traumatic as it was for you.
Lovely wedding photo, Julie!
Enjoy your son's wedding in November, and if you think of it, please have a double martini for me! ;^)
Alex - You never have to apologize, as I'm constantly in awe of how you remember to visit me, as well as your incredibly long list of loyal followers! Yes, most normal men do have it much easier when it comes to clothes shopping, but you haven't met my relatives. Thanks for hosting another great IWSG, Alex!ReplyDelete
Stephen - I'm still laughing at all of your fabulous movie titles, and you also deserve a special award for reading this all the way through! Thanks for your kind words, Stephen! Now if only I could put together a "Best of BOTB" medley for the wedding!
What a wonderful story. And providential of course. I enjoyed finding your blog through the IWSG and will keep reading. Sounds like a terrifying bra fitting. Surprised you didn't have to go to therapy after that ;-) Keep up the good work!ReplyDelete
Dihiwi - Now that you mention it, the bra fitter probably would've benefited from therapy too! She's probably about 110 now, and her ears might still be ringing from all the crying and screaming involved! I look forward to reading your blog too. Thank you so much, Dihwi!Delete
Hi Julie - bra fitting at 10, and dress fitting at an age we won't discuss ... but you've woven a delightful fun story line for us - in your usual 'fashionable' motherly style! Your mother will be bring all her friends from up there and no doubt a few from down there ... to enjoy her daughter's rendition of Heavenly Mom strikes again ... but so pleased for you ...ReplyDelete
I hope you can do/did a Pretty Woman clothes shop incident to the Dress Nazi ...
Just a great post - thank you ... cheers Hilary
Hilary - So sorry I didn’t see this sooner, as your witty remarks always make my day! Yes, I’d love to have a team of makeup, hair, and lighting experts help me plot my “Pretty Woman” revenge on the Dress Nazi! But it will be easier for me to never set foot in her store again. Thanks for always cheering me on, Dear Hilary!Delete
Hi Julie - so glad I haven't been missing your posts ... it was so good to see you comment a couple of days ago 'on siesta time'!!!!Delete
Here's a post I think you'll enjoy on The Red Dress:
I bet your Mother will still be enjoying life up there ... as too my Ma - it'll be 10 years in July ... who knows they could so easily be chortling over us 'meeting up' - take care and all the best to you and the family ... cheers Hilary
Poignant piece, Julie. From age 10 to the present, a life of 'dressing room' experiences recalled. A nice 'slice of life' with humor and angst within. I loved it!ReplyDelete
Ha ha you've brought back some memories of my own! Oy first bra fittings are the worst. RIP for your mom. Love the wedding photo!!ReplyDelete
Well, I missed seeing this awesome post last month, so I'm glad I caught it now, Julie. You've made me a little nervous. I'm hoping to brave a shopping mall for the first time in 18 months or so on Friday and find a great dress in an hour. Mission Impossible, I hope not. Your dress is stunning, and I love your Mom's broach. Happy August!ReplyDelete
I'm headed to my niece's wedding this weekend and I feel your struggles. I'm so tall and heavy that finding a dress that fits right is often impossible. Besides, I feel more vulnerable and exposed in dresses which I hate. I ended up getting a Maxi dress as my mom bought one for me for Christmas and while I've only worn it once since then, I really did like it. Alas, it was more of a winter wear so wouldn't work for the wedding. It is long enough on me (a miracle!) but soft and comfortable enough that I feel less vulnerable than I do in other dresses. Not quite as happy as in pants but close. Unfortunately, I have stupid heels because it is so darn hard to find a dress shoe that doesn't have heels. *Sigh*ReplyDelete
Talklady - I can't thank you enough for your eloquently written remarks. "A nice 'slice of life' with humor and angst within" has always been my goal for this blog. I really appreciate having you thoughtfully cringe and laugh along with me.ReplyDelete
PK - I'm sorry that you also went through an excruciating first bra fitting, but I'm sure you got over it a lot sooner than I did! Thanks so much for your kind words and for co-hosting the IWSG, PK!
Louise - Oh no, please don't be nervous about your shopping adventure tomorrow. 18 months is a long time and I'm sure you'll make every minute count. Most people under 100 could try on clothes faster than I do, so you have to think positive. I'm sure your dream dress will be waiting for you. Thanks Louise!
chickangell - It sounds like you're being too hard on yourself. It's good to be tall, and you should stand up straight and proud. I was always one of the tallest girls in my class, and I still have a hard time finding pretty dress flats too. Please just try to smile and have fun on the dance floor, and your beauty will shine through. It's amazing what a little confidence can do. Now if I could only practice what I preach! Hope you have a great time at the wedding! Thank you, chickangell!
I feel you. Its hard to get everything organized.ReplyDelete
Dropped in to say hi.ReplyDelete