Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Change of Scenery, A New Perspective, & The Decision Made! (Part III. - The Search For the Perfect MOB Dress)

A few weeks into January, I took a trip to El Paso, Texas to visit my Mom. At this point, I had only a few weeks to make my final decision on whether I would keep The Finalist dress (the sapphire blue chiffon with satin waistband) or return it to Dillards within the alloted time to get a full refund. My sister was in town too, and we visited several of the bridal stores and dress boutiques there. I didn't have my hopes too high, but I thought maybe I could at least find something new and different from the styles I had been seeing in the Dallas stores. One boutique there was really, really nice and I would recommend it to anyone – it is called “Ella Blu” on North Mesa on the West Side.

It was there that I had my most pleasant MOB dress shopping experience…and I think there are several reasons why. My sister being there with me definitely made it more special. The fact that we practically had the store to ourselves was awesome. (When I had visited the Terry Costa store in Dallas the previous Saturday, it was a zoo – I had to fight the newly engaged bride crowd as well as early prom-dress shoppers.)

The dressing room was the roomiest one I have been in yet..the size of a small living room, and it actually had a sofa in it. The salesclerk was perfect – she was attentive without being annoying. She was not snobby at all and made me feel perfectly at home and comfortable there. And the dresses were elegant yet contemporary, neither too frumpy nor too slutty. She kept bringing me dress after dress that I liked and that fit my figure much better than any of the others I had tried on. Who knew that one of the best shopping experiences of my life was not in Big D or NYC, but in dusty old El Paso, Texas!

And, in trying on those dresses, I found myself gravitating away from liking the flowy chiffon to the more formal, fitted satin/taffeta styles. I think the only reason I left Ella Blu without a dress that day is that I found some I liked, but not one I absolutely loved. Since the prices were WAY over my target budget (like twice as much or more), it would have to be a dress I absolutely loved for me to buy it. But it was so much fun, and not a wasted experience at all -- it was a turning point that gave me a new perspective on what looks good on me, and what would fit in well with the vibe of Amanda's wedding.

On the plane flying home, I told myself that my dress would likely be the sapphire blue chiffon from Dillards, unless something else dropped in my lap in the next few days. It was the closest thing to what I had been looking for so far, at a price I was comfortable with paying. But, something about it still just didn’t set well with me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was at this point.

Well, with less than a week to go before the deadline of needing to return the Finalist and for Dillards to give me a full refund, I happened to be on the David’s Bridal website for some reason, and decided to glance through the MOB pages to see if anything was new. Well, sure enough...there was a new dress on there. Or at least, one that I had never noticed before. It was an elegant taffeta dress with rouching and a side gather which culminated in some simple beading, and a shawl collar that went into cap sleeves. The color shown was a dark platinum gray which I liked, but to my delight, the dress was also available in Ink blue! Even better!

That evening I went back to our local David’s bridal store – they said it WAS new, and they had plenty of samples to try on. The clerk was very attentive, as much as she could be in the David’s Bridal no-frills sort of way. There was the usual problem of needing alterations, but otherwise I really liked it a lot. It was age-appropriate but not matronly, very formal but not overly stuffy or blingy. The quality of the dress seemed to be decent. (I think with David’s, the quality depends on the price…you get what you pay for.) However, even though it was higher-end for David's, the price of this dress was actually a bit less than that of the other Finalist! And, I actually had another customer approach me to say she loved the dress on me -- I had never had that happen before in all of my other shopping experiences.

A few days later Amanda happened to be in town, and I took her with me to David's Bridal to try the dress on for her. I liked it even better this time. She had liked the sapphire blue chiffon dress on me too, but we both agreed that the tafetta’s formality and elegance fit the tone and style of the wedding better than the flowy chiffon would have. The chiffon was a beautiful party dress, and would have been a great choice for another, less formal occasion, but not for this wedding. Without further hesitation, I ordered the taffeta dress.

Right after leaving David’s, we took her wedding dress to the seamstress for the first alteration fitting. I got another glimpse of my beautiful Amanda in that exquisite, intricately beaded, perfect ballgown she would be wearing for her special day, looking like a fairy-tale princess, and knew that I had made the right choice. I would complement her style.

I feel a little guilty that I didn’t keep at least one of the Dillard’s dresses, but I felt a peace about My Dress from David’s Bridal that I did not feel about any of the other dresses that crossed my path in this long, complicated search! And, here it is (although I ordered it in ink blue):

This is kind of going off topic, but I have to share this bizarre story. That same weekend that I was in El Paso, there happened to be a wedding in Kansas of the daughter of an old friend of mine. When I got back home from my trip, I logged into Facebook. People were starting to post pictures of the wedding. I thought how beautiful my friend Pam looked in her dress! Then I took a closer look. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was wearing the silver/gray MOB dress with the bolero from David's Bridal that I had originally liked last Fall when I first started looking.  (See Part I of my MOB Dress Search posts.) Then it came back to me what the David's Bridal clerk had told me…”there’s one in Wichita, Kansas.” I also recalled Pam posting on Facebook that her daughter had found her dress on clearance at a bridal store in Wichita for her; Pam didn’t really have to go shopping for her dress at all. (Lucky Duck!) This would have been about the same time I was looking for the dress last Fall.

I went so far as to contact Pam, asking her if she was willing to sell the dress to me, but she is a smaller size than what I would need, and she has plans to wear the dress again. I had to say goodbye to that dress once more. But you know what? The vision in my head had changed somewhat, and I was OK with it in the end. I was pretty sure it would not have been the right choice after all.

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