April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress?

I am usually allergic to any form of physical exercise, yet I have managed to trek more miles in the last few days than the most dedicated hiker. All of this strenuous activity was undertaken in my fruitless pursuit of the dream dress, the elusive and perfect garment for an upcoming family simcha.

To be perfectly honest, I must clarify that I am presently on the higher end of middle- aged. I am also not very tall and am of reasonable weight. So why is it that every single blessed dress that I try on is missing some necessary elements, like a neckline that doesn’t plunge, a sleeve that reaches below my shoulder blades, or even a skirt that covers more than my waist? Is that too much to ask?

Allow me to clarify. The first day of my “hunt,” I drove to Brooklyn, the next day to Monsey. Both misadventures might as well be combined here since they were remarkably similar. Firstly, I probably spent more money on tolls and gas than the Baal Simcha spent on the caterer. When I reached these stores, the dressing rooms resembled crowded storage closets filled with women (some my former students!) in various states of undress, stepping around empty cartons and stray belts and stacks of hangers to peer into a shared mirror.

While the hassled saleswoman was busily trying to help ten customers at the same time, she kept bringing me clothing in the wrong size, obviously grabbing whatever she had in stock. “This one runs big, mammaleh. Just try it. ….you can take it in…..or you can let it out.” And if it wasn’t discouraging enough that nothing fit, I was informed that in order to look modest, I needed to wear another outfit UNDER the dress; an additional, long pencil skirt to add length to the dress, a stretchy top to add sleeves and fill in the neckline; all guaranteed to add several pounds to my weight in one easy and bizarre wardrobe change!

My next stop was back to New Jersey, where I could stick close to home and save the sales tax. In Bloomingdale’s the dressing rooms were much nicer than in New York, but not the dresses. At Saks, no one even glanced my way as I tried to find the right section. Ditto for Neiman Marcus where the price of one dress could feed an entire neighborhood for a week! Nordstrom’s definitely had the most helpful staff.

The lovely saleswoman, Beatrice, kept stowing my coat and my bag and whatever I simply was gazing at, in a huge dressing room and she even announced my name on the loudspeaker when I left my cell phone on the counter, but NO DRESS. It was when I hit the discount stores that I totally lost it. Please tell me how exactly the inventory is arranged in Century 21? Why are designer dresses thrown in right next to men’s shorts? Where are the dressing rooms? By the time I staggered to Off 5th, where I was told there were no available dressing rooms, I just wanted to scream. Actually, I was talking to myself by then, rather loudly in fact. Why is every, blessed dress exactly the same? Sleeveless, short and tight? And who designed neon lace and huge floral prints for women over a certain age? Something told me that I was going to attend this simcha wearing the same “new clothing” that that Emperor in the famous children’s story wore.

While soaking my beyond achy feet later at home, I decided that women should band together and start a new trend. Who said we couldn’t wear the same sort of clothing that men wear to shul or a party? You know how they look, a pin striped suit, cute tie, maybe some fancy cufflinks. Hey, it’s time we had a uniform, too! But then again, I guess we DO have a uniform To buy one, just check out every dress shop on the planet. Trust me, I’ve seen them all.

Estelle Glass, a Teaneck resident, is a retired educator who is now happily writing her own essays.

By Estelle Glass

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