Shopping for a new dress is hard.
This is true even with the wonder of the Internet, although the Internet certainly changes it from being nearly impossible to mostly possible, it is still decidedly difficult.
Background: Every January or February, Kronos, the company for which I work, holds its annual Winter Thaw event for the employees and their dates, in lieu of a Christmas party. Starting with an event scheduled at the MFA several years ago, the events have been hosted at various museums or similar venues. This year’s event, which took place last Saturday, was held at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
With Nichelle’s incredible weight loss and constant fitness training, I wanted her to have something for her to wear to the Thaw that would accentuate how much more stunning she has become in the past year or two. Or, in other words, I wanted her clothing to be as beautiful as she—which is, of course, impossible.
I did some searching online, and quickly determined that J.C. Penny appeared to have gowns like I wanted in a price that was affordable. Macy’s had gowns, too, but was quickly excluded due to their prices. Also useful was J.C. Penny’s different views of each item, normally with at least one photograph in each of the available colors. With that, I also able to figure out what style and color were most likely to be pleasing. One interesting factor is that clothing available online tended to be available exclusively online, and there was no indication of what the local store branches would actually contain. (Men would never settle for this when it comes to electronics items. One would think women would be equally demanding. Perhaps years of nonstandard sizes in everything from blouses to shoes have simply worn them down.)
So, with Nichelle’s size stealthily extracted during a conversation about weight loss, NaNi and I went off to the mall one Monday after Nichelle had gone to work, to see what our local Penny’s had in stock. The Internet browsing allowed me to essentially go “buying”—I had no interest in “shopping”; this is another difference between men’s and women’s desired commerce experiences.
They had quite a few choices, but that was narrowed down by the available sizes. NaNi still preferred the more “princessy” outfits, which were more suited for a prom than the Thaw, although there was one slightly showy dress that might have been “mature” enough to fit, that I considered. That being said, I picked out a red strapless gown that was classy without being overly fancy, and was delighted to find one left in the right size, and it was even on sale. NaNi talked me into checking the Disney Store for the “Mermaid Swimsuit” she insists they have, and used her extra-cute-face to manipulate me into buying her a Tinkerbell dress, which was half-off. I figured it was fair enough, as I’d saved money with Nichelle’s dress on sale.)
I brought the dress home, eager for Nichelle to see it. She loved it! But, when she tried it on, we discovered one of the hazards of all the weight training she’s done. Although it fit perfectly nearly everywhere, her back is so muscular that she couldn’t zip it up.
So, back to J.C. Penny I went, hoping it to exchange it for one size up before they closed…
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single dress in the size we needed. They were helpful, calling other area stores, and checking the inventory system; but not one of the gowns I wanted in the size needed was available within 50 miles.
I checked Sears. Nothing but prom dresses in juniors. I went home, and back to the Internet.
A nearly identical dress was available as a catalog order, but in the size we needed, it wasn’t available in a color I knew Nichelle would want. Grrrrr!
“Classy Nun” or “Bride of the Penguin”? Poor color choices. (The woman is a bit pale, too.)
Then, I noticed something I’d overlooked at least 15 times in two days. The dress, pictured above, was also available in cranberry! It would be perfect, if it were in a solid color. The silly white-on-black cuff (Classy nun or Bride of the Penguin?) had turned me off, even thought I liked the overall style.
But I had to be sure. So I found and phoned J.C. Penny’s customer service department, and the lady there confirmed that the cranberry dress was indeed a solid color. Even better, I could have the dress shipped to the catalog pickup at Penny’s in Nashua, and it would arrive by Saturday at noon, about six hours before we needed it.
The dress actually arrived on Friday afternoon, so I picked it up on my way home from work. It fit perfectly, with the results are shown at the top of this post.