Have you ever had one of these moments where you are struck with the fact “Wow, we didn’t do things this way when I was a kid?!” (insert head scratch here) Yeah? Well, me too. It’s one of my “senior moments” I am now having on the regular. What elicited this now all too familiar response recently?
PROM. DRESS. SHOPPING. All I can say is I made it out alive. Mom win.
So in past years of special occasion dress shopping my daughter and I have tried a variety of ways to find “THE DRESS. ”
There has been the joint venture to the big department store where I stand outside the dressing room and wait for the big reveal of the options, with a twirl and an ooh and an ahh. There has been the online purchase of an option or two and take back the ones that don’t make the cut to the store. More than once, she has gone with one of her girlfriends on her own to try on dresses and send pictures to me real-time for approval. (This one even worked out on THE DAY OF a Homecoming dance one year and stands out as one of my all-time favorite dresses she has worn.) But there has NEVER been a road trip the likes of which we had last weekend, which you are about to enjoy from the comfort of your seat and favorite electronic device. (Boy Moms: sit back and soak this in!)
I knew there would be a childhood friend to pick-up, gas to get and a coffee stop. So I set my alarm, purposefully missing my iron-clad Saturday morning routine of Spin class and geared up for an experience. I had heard rumblings of what this could be like, so I was planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
We left at 8:15 am last Saturday morning to travel across state lines to the Chicago Metro area to visit a store that claims to be one of the largest dress shops in the world. I was told there is typically a line outside the door, so get there early. Well, a little bit of putzing on my part and a line in the coffee drive-thru got us there a few moments past the store opening of 10 a.m. Yep, there was a line!
In my wildest dreams, I did not envision this epic store being in a line-up of stores in a strip mall with a 7-Eleven. And a parking lot to match! There were at least 20-25 Moms and daughters in line already and the parking lot was madness. There were only two exits/entrances. All the spots were filled and at least 5 or 6 cars were trying to go in two different directions to claim a non-existent spot.
I made the quick decision to drop off the girls to stand in line while I circled the block. As I turned right out of the parking lot I realized we were very close to the airport and I was NOT going to be finding ANY parking that way. Meanwhile my daughter called me on the phone to let me know if I hurried her and her friend were physically standing in a newly opened-up parking spot waiting for my return.
Oh the other Mom’s in their SUV’s are gonna love this! I thought. But as I rationalized, I had been there previously with no spots and I was okay with using the resources available to me (the girls!) to get us into the store! Ha!
So I hurried back to the store, watched them fend off two other cars and slide into a spot made for a compact car with MY SUV! (Brave move, Mama!) And I hoped and prayed my car would not get keyed!
The girls got inside and there was a flurry of activity. Store employees dressed in all black, running around with ear pieces, assisting those who had been lucky enough to land in the first “wave” of available dressing rooms. (They have 30 rooms to try on dresses!) We were numbers 55 and 56.
The Rules: Each gal got 3 dresses to find and pass off to an employee. If you pre-shopped online you could try and make a beeline for the dress you wanted or go to their designated area for printing off the dresses you wanted. You waited for your number to be called. Then once called, you got 50 minutes to work with an employee to try on your dresses and make way for the next wave of gals who wanted their crack at the dressing rooms.
Now truth be told, we have had amazing luck in past years with finding a dress in a reasonable price range we can live with. THIS year, all bets were off and I was getting ready for the sticker shock. It’s not that we were not willing to be resourceful and shop around locally but after doing all of that we were still out of luck so that is how we ended up on this escapade.
We waited and watched 54 other gals try on their dresses and one by one come out of the dressing room to twirl and spin. We picked our faves, decided which ones we would totally pass on and wondered when it would be our turn. FINALLY by almost Noon the girls got in! Score!
It was so fun watching them show off their combined six dresses. These two have known each other since birth. And I could not believe they were standing there almost 18 years old and getting ready to Prom and graduate and go off to college. Blink!
The funniest thing was at the end of it all, the employee assigned to each gal brings them a metal shopping basket with a handle and tells them to stuff all of their belongings in it so they can re-locate to ANOTHER set of dressing rooms to change back into their street clothes. This way not a minute is wasted in getting more girls in the fitting rooms. It was hilarious watching her parade through the store with her things in a basket while wearing a formal, sequined gown!
Yes I did choke at the price. But in my daughter’s defense, her dress was the least choking of the prices of the three dresses. So THAT was a win. It needs a simple alteration at a local seamstress and she will be good to go. We were starving after all of this, so we went across the street to a 50+ year Chicago hot dog establishment where I proceeded to reward myself with literally 50 pounds of Italian Beef. Done!
I wouldn’t trade it for anything and 7 hours later, we were back home. Whew!
How’s that for a road trip?
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