That Perfect Dress


“If your kids like you, you’ve failed as a parent.” said Frank Barone, on a recent Everybody Loves Raymond. His granddaughter, Ally, moped in her room over a dress that Daddy Raymond refused to buy because it cost $250. The comment piqued my interest. I know this


For the first time since buying my wedding dress, I’ve been looking at dresses with pricey tags in the $100-plus range. We’ve looked at every department store in our local mall that carries formal dresses. Beyond the price tags, and none of these are as high as Raymond’s daughter’s, we have Jo’s limited taste to deal with. Sequins, glitter, material that is stiff enough to stand by itself in a corner, all qualities of most formal dresses now showing, are on Josie’s “don’t like” list.

If that doesn’t make shopping difficult enough, there’s the simple fact that a just-over-5-foot mom, like me, has trouble carrying piles of dresses that are also over 5 feet long across the store to the dressing rooms. We pick a room at the farthest end from the entrance. I sit on the floor outside Jo’s door, out of everyone’s way, and wait for her to come out after each try-on. I tie bows, hook hooks, and fuss with material to adjust the fit.

She floats along the changing room corridor, feet hidden by the flowing skirts, toward a chair just outside, that her dad has become so comfortably familiar with. As she stands in front of the three-way mirror, he motions for her to turn. “Slowly,” he’ll say. “Now let me see the front again. Now the side.”

The clerks who assist us all are great – picking gowns down from high racks with those long metal hooks, watching the process, offering experienced advice, even holding several selections overnight while

we think about all the shiny, sleek, strappy, haltered, backless, fluffy, undernetted gowns – all with understated embellishment because of Josie’s taste.

She compromises her first choices in order to get a nice fit. We’re down to two dresses: one, blue with a delicate silver pattern, double spaghetti straps, and a full skirt of perfect length; the other, lilac with a soft white floral overlay, haltered low-cut v-neckline, of floor skimming length (heeled shoes may be required to keep from stepping on the “too many layers to hem easily” skirt).

The clerk recommends, “Be easy on Dad and choose the least expensive.” It’s no help; they’re both the same price.

Dad announces, to my surprise, ” Mom’s buying it.”

Kathie helps her older sister decide. The girls weigh pros and cons: color and skin tone, how much back is revealed and how many new undergarments are necessary, hem length and shoes. They look at me for a final nod of approval. We all agree.

The clerk gives us a word of advice. “Now, no more looking at any other dresses. There are only two months ’til the prom. Get your accessories. This is your dress.”

With the perfect dress, we are half way there; but, it’s not paid for; it’s on my credit card. Which one do you suppose we picked?

(I must note that in the end, Ray Barone broke down and bought his daughter the dress. What do you say, Dad?)

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