Meltdown in the Dressing Room

AKA: The Little Black Dress From Hell

It was a simple, unassuming dress. Nothing fancy or sexy. Not even particularly Little black dress with sleevesinteresting, truth be told. But it looked useful, in that work-appropriate-and-currently-on-sale kind of way.

I decided to try it on.

This was my favorite consignment store and they were having a huge sale. All blue-tagged items 90% off! Ninety percent! All around me women were carrying heaps of clothing, all with blue tags.

“Just one? ” the dressing room attendant asks me.
“Just one,” I reply.

I go to my usual stall, last one on the left. I undress quickly and take the dress off its hanger.

Hmm. The zipper is in the side seam. I hate that. Zippers do not belong in side seams.

I look at the price tag again. With the discount, it’ll be $3.00. I put the dress on.

It’s over my head, so far so good, bust line is loose, but then I don’t have a bust, so whatever. Sleeves are a bit tight. That’s weird. Pull the dress down all the way, hip & thighs fit with room to spare. Amazing. Zip up side seam and look in mirror.

Okay, so the length is good. Not too short, not too long. Wow, these sleeves are tight. What’s up with that? Waistline is loose, could use a belt. I pull at the sleeves. Maybe I can remove them? Cut the seam and add a thin strip of ribbon?

Hell, for three bucks, I’m willing to make it work.

I unzip the side and start to pull the dress off, only the sleeves are resisting. As in, full on revolt. They aren’t budging.

I’m bent over, dress over my head. I hear women on the other side of the curtain:

“Grandma, that looks great!”
“The color is a bit much.”
“It looks good on you though!”
“People would stare, wouldn’t they?”
“We don’t care what people think. We’re Gypsies.”

Silently I cheer on the Gypsy women. Inwardly I curse the idiot who designed this dress. It had to be a man. A man who hates women.

I tug harder. If anything, it feels tighter. I think my arms are swelling. Swelling in protest of the monster who made this dress.

What does one do in a situation like this? Call out for help?  Would anyone hear me from the last room, bent over with a dress over my head?

I hear more voices:

“What do you think of this?… Oh, I’m sorry! You’re the wrong Paula!
(Laughter) “That’s okay. I think it looks amazing.”
“Really? It doesn’t doesn’t too tight? I thought it looked tight.”
“Does it feel tight?”
“No, it feels comfortable.”
“It doesn’t look tight. It looks sexy.”

emergency-cordYou know what they should put in dressing rooms? They should have one of those “pull for assistance” cords like in hospital bathrooms.

Oh gawd, what have I done? I knew the sleeves felt tight, but I put the dress on anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I tug harder… Seriously, this isn’t moving. I’m really stuck.

I bet Gypsy women never worry about getting stuck in clothes. I bet Paula, or Paula’s friend, or the woman who tells strangers they look sexy never have to worry.

Of course they don’t worry! They have shopping buddies! I’m an idiot who shops alone! Why am I a loner? And why am I so damned cheap that I struggle into three dollar dresses with sausage casing sleeves?

Bent over, dress over my head, I question all my life choices. I wonder why I’m in a dressing room when the sun is shining outside. What brought me to this low state?

But mostly I ask, why do I have a job that makes me wear anything other than jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers?!

thoreau“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”
–Henry David Thoreau

Finally, I come to a decision: I will NOT be beaten by this dress!

And there is no way in hell I’m going to call for help and let anyone see me bent over with a dress over my head!

Summoning all my strength and resolve, I take a deep breath, exhale, and tug again.

Movement! I sense movement! I tug again, slower this time… yes, it’s coming off! Sweet alleluias fill my ears! All is right with the world!

When I return the dress I tell the attendant, “They should put a warning on that thing. The sleeves are super tight.”

“Oh really?” she says, not looking in the least bit concerned. Her arms are super skinny.

One day, young maiden, it will be true for you as well. A day closer than you may think, you will find yourself in a dressing room very much like this one, and you will be stuck.

And when that day arrives, if I am near, I will help you fair maiden. You have my word.

13 thoughts on “Meltdown in the Dressing Room

  1. Took me ten times to read as I was seriously ROFLOL! We’re talking tears. The best people shop consignment stores. And for $3 I would’ve bought it too. Even if I never got around to taping the arm holes I’d put it on my dress form in a corner just to recall the experience! ❤ Wonderful writing, Christi!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love consignment (and antique) stores as well. There’s the budget aspect, of course, but there’s also the “other life” aspect wherein you not only get an item but you get a history as well, even if you never know that history. You can sense it. My two favorite consignment finds: One, a long, black coat that I bought in Tulsa during my college years. It somehow transformed me from mundane to striking but mysterious leading man from the 1940s (at least in my own mind). I still have that thing, decades later, shoved in the back of a closet. It still smells like promise.

    Two, a pair of shoes I ran across in a Goodwill store in… Irving, Texas, maybe? Sometime in the 90s, when I was constantly going to Goodwill stores so it’s a bit of a blur. I found the left shoe first, in one of those “discount” sections where they are basically begging you to pay whatever price just so they can get rid of some of this piled-up, unrelated, unwanted merchandise. It took me a while to find the right shoe, but I finally did, triumphant. (There may have been an uncontrolled squeal.)

    The initial allure of this footwear was that the upper part of the shoe was composed of glossy blackness with a metal half-moon covering the toe section, making it look like an inverted tap shoe designed by Salvador Dali. (Love him.) The second erogenous aspect was that the shoes fit me perfectly, meaning there is somebody out there with my EXACT feet, no small feat (ahem). Lastly, the thick rubber sole had the image of a rose cut into it. Which meant that every time I walked through dirt or sand, or splashed through a puddle and then onto dry pavement, I would leave a trail of flowers behind me, however fleetingly. It just made me smile.

    Unlike my Raymond Chandler coat, I have no idea what happened to those shoes. I haven’t seen them in years, so I’m assuming that I passed them on at some point, and someone else with feet like me is enjoying a stroll that creates its own garden… 😉


    1. Oh man, you just made me remember a pair of shoes, a gift from heaven, that I found in a Goodwill back when I was constantly going to Goodwill!
      They were stylish and lovely and so unlike everything I wore prior to that point. Stepping into them made me look like I was stepping out of the pages of Vogue, that’s how perfect they were. Yet they were comfortable too! How amazing is that?!
      I wore them often, with jeans, skirts, dresses, they went with everything. And it was then I learned that fashion truism, which had previously been hidden from me, that shoes are able to transform a boring outfit into something smashing. (Rather like a glass of wine does to a meal, I suppose.)
      Eventually I wore the shoes out, but the lesson stayed with me. I’ve never taken shoes for granted again.


  3. Every time I put on a dress that doesn’t fit quite right, I question my life’s choices.
    From the overheard conversations, to your inner monologue, this is gem of a tale from start to finish. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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