Going To the Chapel..And Not Breaking the Bank.

So.  Next weekend my sweetheart Mark’s son is getting married.  Ya, we’re feeling old over here.  Now we’ve known this was coming for quite a while and I just kind of put the whole “I have to buy a dress” thing in the back of my mind.  That is until last week when I realized that I hadn’t worn a real dress since about 2002, when I ended my love affair with corporate America.  I know for a fact that I haven’t worn a pair of pantyhose since then….the evil, rotten, gut-smooshing, hive-inducing things.  With the exception of the occasional sundress with flip flops during the summer, I have been joyously dress-free for over a decade.  And it goes without saying that heels fell down that same decade-long sinkhole.  A shopping trip was necessary.  Truthfully, the thought of buying something and paying full retail never even crossed my mind.  There would be no point.  I don’t wear dresses, why would I spend an arm and a leg on something I’ll toss into the donation box next time I’m at Salvation Army?  So off I went, thrift-store bound.

My first stop was Goodwill on Stillwater.  They have a fairly long dress rack that covers one wall and I’m a fairly generic size, I usually have a pretty good selection wherever I go.  Dresses at Goodwill are typically $4.99 and depending on what color barb is on sale that week, you can get something for about $3, especially if you have a Goodwill discount card.  For $10 you get a card that’s good for one year that takes 10% off each purchase.  For me that adds up quickly and pays for itself in no time, well worth it.  Walking across the room, my Thrifty-Sense (Think Spidey Sense but way cuter) tingled.  There was something there.  Something in my size, something good.  I zeroed in on my pray, much like a cheetah on the Serengeti.

 I saw a woman headed in the same direction..she seemed to be heading towards the 12’s.  Would today be the day?  Would today be the day I have to fight to maintain my shopping dominance?  She makes eye-contact with me and veers off towards hand bags.  Smart girl.  My hands fly over the hangers like possessed hummingbirds.  Denim Jumper.  Mother of the Bride, oh God, did I just touch acetate?  I did….shudder.  Move on, no time for weakness here.  There.  Right.  There.  I saw it through a tunnel, like driving into a snowstorm.  Silver.  Tiered ruffles. Sleeveless with a demure scooped neckline.   Hell-o, Lovah.

 S.L. Fashions.  I vaguely remember the name as a brand that was mass-marketed in a lot of the bigger department stores down south.  Dillards, Nordstrom & the like.  I hold it up and it hits just right above my knees.  It’s flouncy, shaped, and appropriate for an afternoon wedding.  I run towards the mirrors in the back, stopping by sweaters only long enough to snatch a soft, silver gray shrug type cardigan off the rack.  Maine in October, yo.  Brrr.  I look in the mirror and it looks perfect.  Hmm.  Maybelooks like it might be a tad snug?  Nah.  I’m bloated.  I can drop a pound by next week, easy peasy, right? I mean at 44 I can still lose a pound or two without a lot of work, right?  RIGHT?  (Oh lord.  Maybe the brief but intense fling with the pretzel M&M’s last week wasn’t wise)  Scanning the shoe aisle..I see nothing that matches.  I pay for my purchases, a grand total of $6.00 for the dress and shrug.  I refuse a bag and  clutch it to my chest for awhile to make sure we bond as I drive the couple of miles down the road to Salvation Army.  My prey goal….shoes.

Then, to my joyful delight, I realized that it was Tuesday.  Footwear is on sale for up to 30% off Tuesday at Salvation Army.   I’ve paid as little as $1.99 and up to $5.99 for a pair of shoes there and Tuesday is SHOE DAY!  In I went.  I already had a dress, and I knew exactly what I was looking for in a shoe.  Silver, high-heeled, strappy sandal, size 9.5, thank you very much.  (What, I’m 5’8″, I have to have big feet or I’ll tip over)  Beelined it to the back of the store and while I felt no real tingling, I did see what I needed, though.  A pair of Fioni Night silver, high-heeled, strappy sandals.

 They were cute.  Didn’t even try them on, tossed them into the buggy and moved toward the front of the store to pay my money.  And then I felt it.  Thrifty-Sense.  Big time. My vision narrowed… I stopped and looked to my left.  Plus-sized blazers.  Looked to my right..the dress rack.  Yesssss.  On the end of that dress rack was the prettiest dress.  It talked to me,  you guys.  It did.  It said, “Al..don’t send a girl to do a woman’s job.  I’m the one you want.”  It was my size.  It was gorgeous, a Sandra Darren,  v-neckline, long swirly skirt.  Empire waisted.  And a very cool black and cream giraffe type print.  I would rock that dress so hard.  I knew it, the dress knew it.

 But what about the silver beauty?  Was I such a fair-weather dress buyer?  Darn straight.  I tossed it right into my buggy, turned around an in about 30 seconds had the most killer pair of peep-toe black strappy pumps to match by Predictions.

 Total damage?  Dress was $3.99, the black shoes were $2.99 and the silver were $2.99.  Yes, I got the silver ones, too.  I wanted to take them all home, try everything on in my own bathroom in front of my own mirrors.  Also, I’m weird about public dressing rooms and bathrooms..imagine that.

After trying them both on, I am totally in love with the black and cream patterned dress and shoes.  I was going to return the silver dress and shoes to Goodwill, but my youngest daughter who is almost 11 told me it looked like a great New Year’s Eve outfit, and you know what?  She’s right, so I’ll keep it.  Mark and I aren’t much for going out.  And we don’t drink.  And I hate crowds..but I love the dress and shoes and they will stay, and I’ll do my best not to let decade go by without wearing them.

So now I have two dresses and two pairs of shoes, for a whopping total of about $16 bucks and change.  Retail I figure I would have spent at least $60 easy on a clearance priced dress and new shoes, and that’s if I got lucky, especially considering all of the Sandra Darren dresses I found online start at about $50 new.  I’m pretty excited and feel like for a little effort and a few bucks, I got a great outfit (2, as a matter of fact) and can put that money I would have spent towards something else.  I’ll take pictures next weekend at the wedding so you can see me in the dress.  Or any dress..it probably won’t happen again for awhile.

Allyson Sorenson

About Allyson Sorenson

Bangor mom. BDN blogger. Volvo lover. Coffee drinker.