With Oona’s wedding four months away, it was kindly suggested to me that perhaps I needed to get off my butt and start looking for a dress!
Oh..and might I add that after watching what I’m eating BEFORE the wedding, I’ll eat her entire wedding cake the day OF the wedding!
Now, you know how I feel about “Mother-of-the-Bride” dresses. They are beyond ugly. They are downright “fugly”. I’ve written about this in the past and trust me, things haven’t changed. Click to read: Why Are Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses so Freaking Ugly?
The rag trade continues to visualize mothers of brides (and grooms) to be frumpy, matronly and completely void of any style.
No. Dusty Rose is not a flattering color and even on the much-younger model, the dress is wearing her. Not a good look!
My objective was to find a short dress that would suffice for my daughter’s wedding. In my mind, I had a vision. Very Audrey Hepburn, 1960’s with a bit of Jackie Kennedy thrown in. Oona mentioned that maybe a long dress would be more fitting of the occasion because her bridesmaids are wearing long dresses and her dress is more on the formal side of bridal attire.
Mommy’s stubborn. I knew that somewhere out there was a dress for me.
I even went as far to order a dress from Overstock.com. I found an Alfred Sung dress and when I showed my daughter, her reaction was that it was better left for the rehearsal dinner. Don’t get me wrong—she liked the dress but felt it was a bit too…………………………basic for her wedding.
This is the dress I purchased from Overstock.com The one I ordered is black and I’ve heard the dresses run small so I’ll be sure to count WW points!
No big deal because in October I’ll be attending the wedding of one of her friends and I can wear the dress I ordered. (And by then I’ll finally fit into the dress if it runs small!)
The online search was getting me a bit stressed to say the least and so, I marked this Saturday off to search for a dress.
Now, on Friday night Bonaparte and I attended a performance of the Opera, Don Giovanni, in Philly. We got home at midnight and, well—you know the Frenchman…he insisted on sitting down to aperitifs and a store-bought roast chicken dinner. At midnight! Since it’s Lent, I was concerned about eating meat on Friday, but I realized that after midnight is actually the next day! And so, I considered the drinks and chicken to be my early Saturday breakfast! By the time we went to bed it was almost two in the morning.
This version of Don Giovanni was chock-full of talent but the costuming left much to be desired! I want full-on traditional Mozart costumes!
And I woke up at 7 AM. Giving me approximately five hours of sleep.
My first inclination was to just roll back under the covers and sleep for another three hours. Then I realized that I needed to start that dress search because it could take a massive amount of time and weekends!
Yeah. I just wanted to stay in bed–but I had a mission!!!!
I prepared well. Into my large tote bag, I placed two wigs. Yes. I need the right hair to match the right dress! Also packed into the tote was a pair of three-inch heels. Since there will be plenty of standing before the shoes come off, it was a pragmatic choice. Next item into the tote—padded bra inserts to assist in making my titties stand at attention if need be. And last of the essentials was shapewear in the form of long-line panties.
Mother-of-the-Bride shopping essentials: Additional hair, pointy-toed heels, shapewear and bra inserts!
And it all fit nicely into my tote bag!
As this was to be a serious mission, I wore very comfortable jeans, a white button-down shirt, a navy blazer and Converse low-top sneakers. My makeup was perfect for this task and I chose a wig that could be worn in an updo.
Comfort is key!! I’m NOT wearing heels to traipse around the mall!
With Bonaparte in tow (the poor man thought I was nuts for carrying so many essentials), we were off to the King of Prussia Mall!
Many women have told me they lucked out at Nordstrom so I was feeling very positive and excited that a dress would be found there. We arrived just a few minutes after the store opened, and I knew my chances could be great to have an expert sales assistant assist me.
First stop–Nordstrom! I was so excited and anxious at the same time! Would I find my dress?
That was not to be.
The “Special Occasion” dress area is located on the second floor. We headed there first. Bonaparte found a seat because he assumed, he would be sitting for a while as I looked around. Already, the department was lively with many women around my age perusing the racks. I found a sales assistant, a woman of mature age, and I felt confident.
As I approached her, I said my obligatory “Excuse me…but…” followed by “do you have Mother-of-the-Bride dresses that aren’t as frumpy and matronly as the ones on the floor?” “Or do you have any Alfred Sung dresses?”
After looking at the likes of dresses like THIS at Nordstrom, I was justified in my choice of wording to the “Mature” woman sales associate!
After she figuratively threw darts at me, she curtly replied “No” and turned around and walked away. Perhaps it was my assertive approach and my absolute honesty about the inventory that made her not want anything to do with me.
That’s pretty-much the look I received when I asked if there were any “nice” and “up-t0-date” Mother-of-the-Bride dresses!
But—as a mother-of-the-bride, it is my duty and, I owe it to my daughter, to get a nice dress. People remember two things at weddings. The beauty of the bride, and, if the Mother-of-the-Bride has a hideous dress—they remember that as well! The objective is to not take anything away from the bride and that means not wearing a dress so matronly, so awful, so unstylish that it does take away from the bride because, trust me—people will be noticing the ugly dress more!
And here’s a sampling of washed-out dresses for the MOB!
Another woman who was standing close by started to laugh and told me that “…. you won’t find anything here!” “I’m in the same boat as you are”. And she laughed again.
Not only is this shapeless but the sleeves are absolutely atrocious to the mature woman who’s arms may have become a bit flabby! Who designs this anyway????
Now here’s the thing. And what I’m about to write does not apply to all sales assistants. Please—if you work in retail, realize that I’m only speaking about a small percentage—ok? I’m not a fan of many “mature” sales assistants. A number of them are what I, and some of my ex-coworkers from Nordstrom, used to call “sharks”. They are out for one thing and one thing only—commission. Their job is to move inventory at a cost that is beneficial to them. They will find the ugliest, priciest dress in the department, insist you try it on and tell you that it is YOU! Meanwhile, you are thinking you wouldn’t even put your worst enemy in the dress.
That woman checking out the dresses is the one who had a good chuckle at my inquiry. The dress on the right–are you kidding me? They only human to look fabulous in brown was Ronald Reagan. OK?
This type of sales assistant avoids customers who know what they want, are aware of their body shape, and have specific tastes. Basically, the sharks of the retail business aren’t fond the knowing customer. That makes it difficult for me to get the assistance I need, when in reality, there are times when a little assistance can help. Remember this for later on in the post!
Beware the retail sharks! They will hunt the vulnerable customer down and sell you anything to make commission!
After a quick look-see at the rest of the department, I was so disgusted because the sales woman lied by telling me they didn’t have Alfred Sung dresses. These dresses are in the Wedding Suite at Nordstrom. And so are bridesmaids’ dresses. She didn’t even suggest that I even try looking at The Wedding Suite. It’s this lack of customer service that leaves me wondering why Nordstrom pontificates on great customer service when, in fact, it is severely lacking in some circumstances.
Though not my personal style, this is closer to what a MOB dress should look like–and Nordstrom has dresses like this in the store’s Wedding Suite. I should have gone there but I was just too disgusted.
As we left, I suggested we head to Lord & Taylor. I’ve always heard that the store had great dresses and I hadn’t shopped in that store in a dogs age. By this time, I was experiencing full-blown MOB anxiety. I felt bad because I wished my daughter was with me, I was upset at the lack of help and selection at Nordstrom and I started to tear up. Thank God I had my husband to remind me we had only been looking for a half hour!
Lord and Taylor. It was high time to revisit!
As we approached the cocktail/mother-of-bride/special occasion dress department of Lord and Taylor, my spirits lifted. The selection was stellar! Short dresses, long dresses, fancy dresses, fancier dresses all sorts and I was hopeful.
Then it happened. I headed up to the department’s cash register. There were not one, not two, not three, but there were four sales assistants. All women around my age (gee—what a surprise).
And when I asked about Alfred Sung, kind of Jackie Kennedy mother-of-the-bride dresses, shorter length dresses for the mother, three of the women ignored me and one gave me the once over and said. “We have nothing like that.” She then turned her back on me and proceeded to talk to another sales assistant.
Oh honey, the same can be said for some sales associates!
Is it me? Was it the fact I was in jeans and ultra-cool Converse low tops with a J. Crew Schoolboy blazer that turned these women off to me? Was it my nasal, Long Island/NYC Borough Girl accent that disgusted them? Perhaps it was my crossed eyes or the fact I speak loudly that may have seem as though I had the plague.
..or perhaps the sales associates thought I was a working girl if you know what I mean….
Whatever the reason, I was now two-for-two with the mature lady sales assistants. I would have fared better getting assistance by a college co-ed at Forever 21!
The saving grace? Lord & Taylor’s spectacular selection! Honestly, the choices were overwhelming—and in a rather underwhelming category of dresses, this was good. Oh yes—this was very good!
I headed to a dressing room lugging my tote bag of essentials and about a dozen dresses. With no help from a mature sales assistant, mind you. Absolutely. No. Help!
Once inside the dressing room, I took my clothes off, changed into my shapewear, decided to change my hair and put my Sage wig on and hit the dresses.
…and a change of footwear and hair!
Let’s take a little peek at a few of the dresses I tried on.
This sheath dress by Guess. I absolutely loved it. The 8 fit beautifully. It had stretch, making it comfy to be on the dance floor. Bonaparte liked it but wasn’t bowled over. Thank God for cell phones because I took a pic and sent it to Oona. She was “meh”. I kept it in the “maybe” pile.
I stinking LOVE this dress! I can’t help it. The fit, the cut of the dress–everything–and I’m not a “lace” person but this dress….
There’s nothing about this dress I don’t love! But is it Mother-of-the-Bride kind?
Next dress was by Eliza J. Neon Pink! I picked up a size 10 because there were no 8’s and it was large in the bust area. Nonetheless, I loved the dress. The drawback was the fabric. Oona’s wedding is in July and the polyester fabric was very heavy. My husband really liked this one too. Oona really did but said that the color was too loud. Then I realized she was correct because her bridesmaid’s dresses aren’t a bright color. Gotta think of the photos. She asked if the same dress was available in a muted color. It wasn’t.
What would I tailor on this dress? The length. I would cut one inch off the hem to make it perfect!
A small slit and a one-shoulder cut. Out of my normal range of style but I loved this!!
The size 10 was just a bit large in the top..it wasn’t a good thing when I bent over!
Next dress was a great frock which I really loved. A knit top attached to a Dupioni skirt. It was fun and flirty. This was the one I had to go up two sizes and it was still a bit tight. WTF is with the inconsistency in sizing anyway?
I. Love. This. Dress.
The “issue” with this dress? It was too short. At first, it didn’t seem that short, but when I bent over to test, I bent over in front of Bonaparte. He said “NON!” it was inappropriate for the wedding especially since I would be spending a good amount of time on the dance floor!
From a distance you can see that it is a bit too short for a MOB. But it’s more about bending down when a dress is that flouncy at the skirt.
Still, I think this makes a lovely party or date night dress!
Next up, a Fit n’ Flare deep blue dress with silver embellishments. The 8 didn’t even zip up past me waist. Neither did the 10 or the 12. Inconsistent sizing is not good for the ego. That dress went in the “never” pile!
On the hanger, this dress had great potential–but the sizing was ridiculous!
Just for ha-ha’s, I selected two long dresses to try on. Oona kept hinting around that a longer dress would be preferred. But in all honesty, I’m just not a long-dress person.
Regardless, I tried a black and gold-embellished number on and adored it. In fact, when I left the dressing room to show the husband, a woman came up to me to compliment me on how great the dress looked. And still, no sales assistants approached me! But customers did!
Another dress I absolutely loved and so did Oona. Bonaparte hated it.
Look! I’m Angelina Jolie!
Unfortunately, the top was huge–which meant sizing down! Was this THE dress?
This was the dress that was too large. Bonaparte didn’t like it because he said it made me look older—even with the slit! It was daughter-approved and I had to find it in a smaller size.
The next dress was one that I figured nobody would like because it was just way too simple. A Calvin Klein. And it was the simplicity that drew me to it. A long dress—surprise! A high neck but sleeveless and a slim cut. A built-in bra because the back was low—but still, very simple.
Basic. Simple. Calvin Klein. And this dress fit perfectly…
The back of this dress is beautiful–all that’s needed is a fake tan! You can see the woman who took my photo. She was going crazy over the dress!
Overall–a gorgeous dress and fit–but is it worthy of MOB status?
When I walked out of the dressing room, two more customers approached me to comment that this dress was absolutely stunning. One of the women actually asked me if I wanted her to snap a pic –which she did and she also gave suggestions for jewelry! And still—not one sales assistant approached me!
Oona thought the dress very simple—and I reminded her that the day belongs to her and not me. I would rather blend than stand out!
As I headed out of the dressing room to put a couple of the dresses away (Yes. I’m also that customer who puts clothing away. I may be loud and demanding but I’m obsessive about hanging the clothing back and putting it in its proper place), I passed to of the sales assistants who didn’t help me. They were deep in conversation.
Then it happened.
One of the assistants turned around to say that the dress looked absolutely gorgeous on me. I thanked her profusely then went in for the kill. After thanking her I said …”and no thanks to you. All of you refused to help me when I asked for it.”
Hey—I call it like I see it.
Allow me to reiterate. Nobody deserves to be ignored. If a customer needs assistance, and the S/A’s are busy, it’s only normal and polite to wait your turn. I understand that. If the S/A’s are not busy then they shouldn’t hover around the cash register—they should be out on the floor.
I’m not going to tell you if I purchased a dress specifically for the wedding. (I want it to be a surprise and the search continues) However, I did make a purchase of a dress that I could use. And I did not purchase the dress in the department I was in. I went elsewhere.
When the cashier told me that I could pay in the dress department, a can of worms was opened. Without going into further detail, I explained why I was at her register. She, Linda, being of sound mind and a pro at customer service, called the store manager over.
The outcome? I was able to air my grievances to the manager. And trust me, I also mentioned that Lord & Taylor has a great selection of dresses—especially for the mother of the bride or groom.
Ravi, the Lord & Taylor store manager. He was very much the listener–which I appreciate and Linda knows her customer service! Might I suggest looking for her if you are ever in the King of Prussia Lord & Taylor and need assistance!
I highly recommend going to Lord & Taylor’s online site to check out the selection of their dresses because it’s excellent and the in-store selection doesn’t fail. Even better is that Ravi, the store manager explained to me that they are expanding on these dresses! Smart move for Lord and Taylor—especially given that there’s a larger variety of “pro-aging” dresses that other stores lack.
Look—some of you may think I was overreacting and being a total ba-zitch. But I want to stress a point about customer service. These days more and more retailers are suffering the effects of online shopping. It’s easier for those who don’t want to travel to a store. It’s easier for those who work weekdays and are too spent to shop in the evenings and weekends.
Then there are those who want to see the goods first-hand. Those are the ones who do in-store shopping. And the more sales assistants (NOT ALL—JUST A PERCENTAGE) judge customers, or become picky about who they assist, the more customers will be drawn to online shopping.
And so, I don’t get mad—I get even. Nobody in the dress department received commission on my purchase.
And it is a big mistake to ignore customers and not assist them. I realize there are horrible customers out there but for the most part–all they want is to be treated fairly.
Tell me your thoughts. Please. Do you think I was being too much? Have you ever been ignored by a sales assistant—and a mature one at that? I’m really curious!