The Dress

Last weekend Madi and I went in search of The Perfect Dress for the upcoming Homecoming dance at her school. I guess I should insert some standard eye-rolling Mom comment here about the ordeal of going to the mall with a teenage girl, but actually, Madi and I have very compatible shopping styles, so we always have a lot of fun. We both agree that it only makes sense to try on a LOT of selections at each stop– our mantra is, “As long as we’re getting undressed…” So we always enter a dressing room with armloads of clothes, knowing that if we are lucky we’ll have maybe one or two choices that actually work. And we’re OK with that, in a kind of zen-shopping way. What will be will be. (Mainly because she is crazy hard to fit: she’s like, 5 inches tall, weighs about as much as a spaghetti squash and has, um, how can I say this delicately… boobs.)

Once in the fitting room, we assume our positions. The clothes go on the hanging hooks, I station myself in the chair, and Madi hands me the hangers as she tries on each dress. My job is to critique from every angle, pay special attention to the ‘twirl test’ (to see how it will move when she dances), offer my opinion and rating, then hang them back up. I also have to endure the 5 minutes per dress that it usually takes for her to photograph herself in the mirror with her camera phone and send it to her friend Karlye, who then weighs in with her opinion. When I complained about the amount of time suckage this entailed, she very seriously informed me that, “This is important! I need Karlye’s input!” Another part of the dressing room routine is something Charlotte calls ‘the butt dance’ which consists of Madi pursing her lips, turning her backside towards the mirror and kind of bouncing around in a circle, the better to check the rear view. I don’t know WHERE she gets that. Oh, yeah… Never mind.

The dresses are eventually divided into two piles, “Nope” and “Maybe”. Over the years we’ve developed some short-cut comments between us that don’t need any further explanation, such as: “Doesn’t do you any favors”, “We can do better”, and “I like it, but I’m not loving it”. What we’re waiting for, the ultimate shopping experience, is that rare moment when we both take a good look at what she puts on and simultaneously declare, “That’s IT!” It took us two days and eleventy frillion stores to get there this weekend, but we finally did.

But if you will bear with me a moment– I’ve got to tell you, there are some seriously skanky dresses out there! For teenagers! It is appalling, and that’s not a word I use lightly (mostly because I can’t pull it off very well), but it is the dang truth. I mean, I am not exactly a prude-mom, but it is really shocking to see ‘dressy dresses’ in the JUNIOR DEPT that look like they should come with their own stripper pole. Cut down to here, and up to there, and tighter than an Ace bandage. Not to mention really tacky colors with all manner of gewgaws dangling off of them and random slits up the side–yikes! My theory is that the arbiter of what passes for taste in teen wear these days is the same genius that came up with Bratz dolls. (“Hey, I know! Let’s make a whole new line of dolls and market it to little girls–kind of like Barbies, only way sluttier!)

Thankfully, Madi wasn’t looking to push the envelope so there weren’t any dressing room battles. I have to tell you, I actually really enjoyed the entire process. I hate to fall into that whole ‘mother and daughter bonding over shopping’ cliche, but it was fun to be part of the search, the discussion, the weighing of pros and cons and finally, the triumphant moment when she slipped The Dress over her head and then stood stock still in front of the mirror as a surprised look spread across her face. She gently ran her hand down the deep purple fabric with one hand, catching my eye in the mirror and smiling delightedly. And sitting there on the uncomfortable dressing room bench, weighed down by the pile of discards in my lap, I looked at Madi and I could see the child she was, and the girl she is, and the woman she will be– all of them there in that sweet face that I know as well as my own. It startled me, and I froze for a second, staring at her with an intensity that she assumed was the result of being dumbstruck in the presence of The Perfect Dress. “I think I found it,” she said in a hushed voice. “Oh yeah,” I agreed. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

And it doesn’t.

16 Responses

  1. CarolynR

    So it’s out there – the perfect dress! She looks totally gorgeous:)

    Agree with you totally on “skanky” for teenagers. I remember minis when they first came out (oh yes I do) with me showing a great expanse of leg, to my mother’s horror! I couldn’t understand when kneeling for school prayers, why my summer uniform dress was flapping around my knees when I know I’d made it at least 6 inches higher! Swift interrogation of my mother led to her admitting to letting down the hem. I was mortified! All she could say was “I’m sorry I let you down”. My winter uniform skirt was easier to deal with, as all I had to do was roll it up on the waist until I looked 7 months pregnant both front and back. Oh the folly of youth!

    Word of the day, gewgaw. Never heard anyone use that in a sentence before lol. Will use it at every opportunity today:) Am going to the dentist later and when you have about 6 things hanging out your mouth and he asks you a question, the answer always sounds like gewgaw anyway.

    Great post. Have a nice day :)

  2. auburn60

    Cute,cute,cute! Love the ‘twirl factor’. And the color.

    Boys are not nearly as much fun to dress.

  3. kwr221

    AWESOME twirl!!! :-)

  4. Phyllis S

    Oh what a gorgeous young lady. The ‘twirl factor’ is ravishing. Tori, if ever a dress and “made for” Madi, you found it…Good job.

    I had three sons, and none of the three wanted a dress for homecoming (smiles), so I sent them to the tux store, rented and returned….now that is the way to go.

    Madi, Have a great time and enjoy your Homecoming.

    Phyllis S

  5. BrownEyedGirl

    What a stunning dress with a perfect twirl test. Madi is beautiful!
    We did the dress shopping a few weeks ago with Jennifer – my 16 y/o. She was the junior attendant , so all of the girls had to find a dress that looked good on everyone. (Keep in mind that Jenn is 5 ft tall , minimal boobs, and a self proclaimed large butt – all size 3 of her LOL ) If that’s a big butt, what the heck is MINE ??)
    I hope Madi has a great time at the dance!! Thanks for sharing the pictures!

  6. belinda

    That has to be the most perfect dress you girls could have found. The shopping sounds like so much fun, glad it paid off. The twirl test was perfect. She is as gorgeous as always. Hope she has a great time!

  7. LindaB

    Gorgeous dress……gorgeous girl!

    Ask Madi if I can borrow that dress when she’s through with it——I’d like to wear it to Gaither Fest in Myrtle Beach in a few weeks. I’m starting a diet and I’m sure I can lose the 70 pounds needed to fit into it before then. I wanna go walk out on the beach and “twirl” in it! Yep, that’s my goal! I’m gonna make it happen! Madi has inspired me. (I hope I don’t have a stroke when I get to twirlin’!)

  8. Barbara M. Lloyd

    All I can say is you done good, mom….because she looks absolutely adorable! Love that sweet Madi.

  9. themema

    Perfect Color! Awesome style! Gorgeous young lady! Wow! Is her Daddy going to let her actually go?!?!

  10. gracelynn

    Oh to be that size! I can always dream. LOL

    I love the color and it looks great on her. I agree about the sleezy selection that the stores have now. The sad thing is – the majority of teens love that. And I hate to see it as a teacher.

    I’m glad that you and Madi can shop together and enjoy it. Shopping with my mom is a pure chore. She and I never see eye-to-eye on anything. I’ll buy a new shirt for work, only to come out in the morning and see that famous crease in her brow as her nose goes up and she asks, “Where did you get THAT?!” (Rolling my eyes) I will say she is a little better now than before but she still has her moments. I shop more like Dad – I know what I want, I go look, if they ain’t got it then I’m gone. If they do, I make a selection, try on my choices, if it works I pay for it…if it don’t, then goodbye LOL.

  11. Max D

    Oh my gracious! First let me say that child/woman is absolutely gorgeous. Secondly, that dress is killer!!!! What a great dress for a dance! I am sooooooo happy that you enjoy shopping with your girls. I can’t even stand shopping for moi. My Mother use to love shopping with me and I with her! I wish for you many more special shopping trips with Madi and with Charlotte!!!! Will you come shop with me? LOL

  12. dijea

    Fabulous Dress! Fabulous. Not to revealing, purple which is always a plus in my book and great twirling! I give it a 10.

  13. karen48

    That is a very nice dress and looks great on her. Love the twirl. What a perfect picture.
    Have a great time at the dance Madi!!

  14. rockin robyn

    What an awesome dress on a very beautiful young lady! I hope Madi had a great time at the dance. Tori – you’re quite the photographer too!! What a special shopping moment with mother and daughter… memories to be cherished in years to come – for sure!!!

  15. drmani

    Today, as I browsed Jenny, the Bloggess’ collection, “B.S.Sunday”, I suddenly remembered your blog (which I found through her earlier list).

    And when I read this bit, I realized WHY you stuck in my mind:

    “And sitting there on the uncomfortable dressing room bench, weighed down by the pile of discards in my lap, I looked at Madi and I could see the child she was, and the girl she is, and the woman she will be– all of them there in that sweet face that I know as well as my own.”

    I’ve experienced moments like this with my little girl, and you put into words that incredible feeling in a way I might never have been able to!

    And yes, that dress suits Madi perfectly :-)

    All success

  16. tori

    Dr. Mani– missed you, welcome back!

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