Here we are in sunny Florida, basking in the warmer than usual southwest Florida weather. Meanwhile, our family and friends at home are navigating snow covered roads, bracing themselves against a -31 C windshield factor. Do wish everyone could be here with us.
Southwest Florida is known for sunshine, Everglades, white sand beaches, and some of the best bargain hunting outlets.
With the wedding of one of our daughters of our blended family scheduled for the end of June, what better place to shop for a dress, I do not know.
Now it must be understood Jo-Ann is not a happy camper when shopping, even at the best of times. It’s just not her thing. That’s when she asks her sister-in-law Nola, to join her.
Nola has a great fashion sense, loves shopping, is very patient, and gently honest about what suits or does not. So, it’s off with Nola to shop.
Jo-Ann and Nola’s mission if they chose to take it – was to find a “step-mother of the bride”, dress that would suit Jo-Ann and camouflage me, while getting as much bang for her buck as possible
It was early morning, (the early bird gets the worm), and already it was hot and steamy. GPS on the car dash, Nola and Jo-Ann left for the outlet
We parked the car and took a reconnoiter of the vast parking lot, already beginning to fill, and got a sense of the lay of the land. Across the horizon as far as we could see, there were stores, stores, and more stores.
Nola excited to get started and Jo-Ann almost overwhelmed, our first stop was the outlet map. X marked the spot where we were standing, and it was time to get moving.
Like a river running through a canyon we walked the ribbon of concrete between store fronts. Buildings to our right, and to our left. We were 3 on a quest for the perfect dress.
I am situated on top of a honey dew melon sized parastomal hernia, on the left side of Jo-Ann’s abdomen. Jo-Ann looks about 5 months pregnant on the left side, and her right side is relatively flat. There are times when she is aware of her lop sided physique.
Under Nola’s expert training, somewhat timid Jo-Ann gained confidence, and started to feel MacGyver-ish. There are resourceful fashion solutions, it’s simply a matter of fashion awareness
Jo-Ann realized that she now must consider and in some cases, change her fashion style. Clothing that she liked before, for the most part do not suit her new body shape.
How to do this? Well, time to consider what draws the eye to other more flattering body parts. Next, find clothing that are constructed in such a way as to draw the eye to a decorative focal point such as; a strategically placed buckle, pleats, and so on.
Looking at various fabric prints Jo-Ann realized there are patterns with various colour palettes that create a general look that once again, pulls the eye with pleasing results. And finally, Jo-Ann has learned to stay away from fabrics that cling.
It was time to enter the cool and brightly lit stores. Splitting up to cover as much ground as possible, Jo-Ann and I went to one set of racks, and Nola to another.
As I mentioned, I am situated on the left side, and so my camouflage requires strategic placement. As our quest continued under the hot mid-morning sun, Nola would find a nice dress that might suit. Jo-Ann would try it on, only to realize that the focal point of that particular dress would be on the right side.
Personally, my lumpy profile with a gather or a flower on the opposite side seem quite interesting to me, but, Jo-Ann and Nola certainly didn’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times they did this. Nola would hold up a dress and say, “hey, this one looks great, oh, it’s right handed”, and they would chuckle.
Store staff even got into it, being very helpful and understanding Jo-Ann would say, “see my right side profile, this is what I look like. Now, see my left side profile, this is what I really look like”. A small army of determined women in each of the stores joined us on our quest.
And then the moment we all anticipated arrived. Nola found a deep purple velvet dress. It has pleats that fold diagonally from the right across the bodice and down the dress to the waist. It all meets on the left, coming together with a chiffon type material that gathers into what reminds me of a flower. From the flower like a vertical wave, wide ribbons of chiffon drapes down to almost the hem line. This dress is elegant, with a bit of flare, it accentuates Jo-Ann’s assets and camouflages me.
3 cheers, high fives and a hip hip hurray. Our mission was a success. Our quest had been filled with all of the twists, turns, challenges, and comraderie a shopping trip offers. Our last stop would be the cash register.
At home, we guesstimated the dress would probably cost us around $150.00. But, we were at a South Florida outlet, sales abound, and who knew what the last press of the registers screen would reveal.
Jo-Ann held her breath, and Nola winked as they waited for the final sale. With a smile on her face, the store representative announced, “that will be $18.50”.
Jo-Ann and Nola looked at the registers digital screen, yes the electronic print read, $18.50.
Astounding, incredible and amazing, were the thoughts that passed through Jo-Ann’s mind. These thoughts translated into giggles, laughs, and a few OMG’s.
As with any successful quest in life, there is always something to be learned and this one is not an exemption. I learned with a little sense, (in this case fashion sense), some resourcefulness, and commitment, all people are beautiful just the way we are including me, just as I am.