Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Tight Squeeze

The dress. Not on me though.

My sister is getting married in July. Exciting. I am the matron of honor. Also exciting. Bridesmaid's dress shopping. Not so exciting. I was in Philly a few weeks ago to help my sister find the perfect wedding dress, which she did. It does make me a little sick that she toggles between a size 0 and size 2, which I think may be the same dress size as my 7 year old. But enough about her (whatever, "her" day isn't till July). After her search was over, my fellow bridesmaid, Tracee and I, pulled about a half dozen dresses to try on. Each dress made me realize that almost every part of me was flawed in some way or another. Some dresses made me look pregnant (I am aware the post-baby belly is there, I don't need a dress to remind me... and everyone else), others flat chested (again, something I am well aware of), big butted (is that a word?), you name, there was a dress that screamed, "Look at my _____, everyone!" Now, if you know me, I am not one for attention. I hate the spotlight, and especially on this occasion, I would hate to steal my sister's thunder by having the attention be on me and my seemingly un-average body. Maybe that is the point of the bridesmaids' dresses: to make the bridesmaids look their worst, so that the bride look that much better. Well, my sister doesn't need that- she looks amazing in her wedding dress, so I would like to just look normal, which is proving to be harder than it sounds. I left Philly with a great pair of shoes for the wedding (4" stilettos... yes, I will be the giant tower in the wedding pictures) but no dress.

So back to the bridal store to try on more dresses here in St. Louis. I take Hanna along, somewhat unaware of the fact that she will be of little help when it comes to opinion and practical help, like zipping up the dress. I now know why this is typically a group event. I grab some dresses in a size 6 and size 4. Depending on the brand, my size is somewhere around there... unless it is in jeans, then is varies from a 2 to a 12 (I put jeans shopping up there with bra shopping on my list of things I hate to shop for). I try on the 6 and it fits for the most part (there is a ruffle across the front that I have a love-hate relationship with- its ruffly, which is almost never a good thing, but covers my baby bulge perfectly!) but the top is somewhat roomy to the point where there is a chance that after a couple of hugs, the wire boning may become inverted... I find the sales lady to zip me up and ask her opinion on the fit. She tells me that to go down to a 4, I would need an extra two inches of room along the body, and I don't have that. She suggests getting the top part altered or adding significant padding. She is probably right, but I have to find out for myself. I shift my way into the 4 and again ask the lady to zip me up. She does so hesitantly and then walks away, most likely rolling her eyes. The dress feels small... it is somewhat difficult to breath but the size 4 offers more assurance of the dress staying up than the 6 does... tough call, strained breathing during the wedding or more chance of "wardrobe malfunction" (Superbowl Janet Jackson)? I decide I can't make a decision. Maybe I can start working out and then be able to breath better in a 4? Or realistically, maybe by the time the holidays are over, the 6 may be a better option. Either way, I am done with dresses and ready to leave. I look for the lady to unzip me and she is no where to be found. All the other bridesmaids are busy oooing and ahhhing over the brides trying on their dresses, moms are in tears, friends are refrain from telling the bride that the dress of her dreams is a really bad choice, etc... so I ask Hanna to try her hardest to get the zipper down. Doesn't work. I decide that if I can get a good grip, maybe I can get it on my own. I wiggle till the dress is turned around 180 degrees and the zipper is in front of me.  I struggle to unzip it. No luck. I realize that I can't go out of the fitting room with the dress like that so after another 5 minutes of shifting and wiggling to get the dress back the right way, I go out and look for the lady. I tell her sheepishly that I think I will go with the 6 and she makes no comment. She tries several times to get the zip down, and then says," Follow me." I go to back of the store where the seamstress is working on a dress. The sales lady tells her that I need some help. Actually, she doesn't say that. Her exact words are,"I have a lady stuck in a dress..." I smile and again comment that I suppose the 6 is a better option. Neither of them laugh. The seamstress tugs and jerks the zipper, moves the dress about, etc. and finally shakes her head and says in her heavy Chinese accent,"Can't do anything. We have no choice." I am not sure what that means, but one big tug and a loud tearing sound later, it is clear. My chest fills with air again, and I feel the cold store air on my back. The dress will come off quite easily now. I look at the them and say,"What now?" The seamstress looks at the sales lady and says, "Mark it "damaged"" and she returns to her sewing. The dress is $139 so I am relieved that there is no policy of making stupid bridesmaids, who want to squeeze into dresses that are too small and damage them as a result, pay for the dress. I hang the dress back up and take note of the huge rip down the back of the dress. Fail. I hand her back the dress and leave the store as quickly as I can before she changes her mind about billing me for the dress. Hanna witnesses the whole thing in awe, unsure about what to say or what really just happened.

6. I think I will go for the 6 next time, and bring an insanely padded bra... so yes, when you see the wedding pictures, and there is a giant on stilts with the artificial looking front, know that the top part comes off... and hopefully, this time, the dress will too...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Death by Clogs

One of my students commented on my cute clogs this morning and I responded,"Yes, they are cute, but I've almost died twice today!" This led to a series of embarrassing shoe-related stories. If you know me, you know that I am a shoe fanatic. If you don't... I am a shoe fanatic. As a kid, I remember watching my dad polish his shoes every night and somehow, I knew there was something special about them and even then, I felt a draw to fine shoes. I guess I should clarify that by fine, I mean what I find to be fine. I couldn't name more than a handful of shoe designers and own no designer shoes. Growing up in Malaysia didn't really fit in with my love for shoes. In school, you are required to wear white tennis shoes (then they were mostly canvas) and every weekend, kids would scrub their shoes and put them out to dry so that they would be clean on Monday morning. I don't think I ever had to be reminded to wash my shoes. I loved having clean shoes, even if there was nothing unique or appealing about them since everyone had them. The other shoe of choice for kids in Malaysia: flip flops... and no, not the sequined or patterned kind. Plain Japanese slippers. You could pick between green soles or blue soles. I don't remember owning any other shoes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't... I do remember that every year I got a new, shiny pair of shoes for Christmas, and until I could have a say in it, they were mostly black patent shoes. I don't remember at what age I got to pick my own shoes, but I do remember hiding my shoes one year because I simply hated them and didn't want to to wear them out in public. Fast forward a number of years later: I would proudly sport black patent shoes... not the mary jane kind I was forced into as a kid, but give me a pair of black patent heels and I would wear them anywhere (can you see me in the garden with my black patent heels? I don't really go anywhere exciting...). Now, my love for shoes is both a hobby and a curse. Sometimes the price of fashion (both literally and figuratively) is high. Most of my shoes are expensive, but I convince myself that it is a lifetime investment. This didn't work so well once I had my first kid and my shoe size went up a 1/2 size. However, for the most part, I wear my shoes carefully, keep them clean, and have enough to rotate through that none of them will ever wear out in my lifetime. I plan to include them in my will. Dave, on the other hand, buys one pair and wears them until they self-ventilate through the holes in the soles. Rainy days are tough for him, and though he complains, it doesn't bother him enough to actually purchase a new pair. During my first year as a teacher, I got a pair of Danskos and absolutely loved them. I had a professor in college who used to wear clogs and carry a big stick. Kids used to joke about Professor Johnson, but I now know why clogs and long sticks go hand in hand. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way that wearing clogs is sometimes a dangerous venture (though it should be noted that this discovery has not actually stopped me from wearing them... or buying more of them). When I was nine months pregnant with Hanna, I lost my balance stepping off of the curb and fell face first onto the street. I had pavement in my teeth and my face was completely bloody and scraped. To add insult to injury, my neighbor was on her way to her car and witnessed the whole thing. Quite embarrassing. Not quite the picture of grace I was going for. Fortunately, since my face broke my fall, the baby was fine. My shoes also came out unharmed. It is not even 10:30 am and my ankle has already turned twice this morning wearing my clogs... that doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. I can't tell you the number of times this happens when I wear clogs. It seems to happen almost randomly; my ankle buckles under me and my whole body almost collapses like one of those dolls you push on from the underneath and they fold over at the joints... Most of the time, I manage to recover quickly, and hope that no one notices, but there have been times I know that people have had to stifle their laughter (sometimes unsuccessfully) at my trips and falls. But what is a girl to do? The shoes are stylish, cute AND comfortable (albeit dangerous). When I am not walking, they seem to be the perfect shoe. So, perhaps the solution to my woes is to continue to invest in cute, pricey shoes, but not walk... or to walk and carry a big stick...