Here’s a short story that I wrote several years ago about my sister’s shopping experience in finding the perfect dress for her oldest son’s wedding. I hope that you enjoy it.


My nephew is getting married and my sister, mother of the groom, has been searching for the perfect dress to wear. It’s going to be a formal wedding at a prestigious country club in Southern California, so she wants to look her best.

Last month, she visits a bridal shop and, at the clerk’s insistence, tries on a dress. It’s comfortable, but not what she anticipated. After being told that it looks great on her and would be ideal for that type of wedding, she buys it anyway. It’s a final sale, but has a drastic price reduction—another incentive—and with the matching jacket, it costs her only $90.

She calls to tell me about it and says the dress is different, but the right choice—the clerk said so. Anyway, she’s relieved she’s finally found something.

A week later, she calls me again and says she’s feeling funny about it. It flows, but has no form and makes her look like that Maude character from television (remember her?). She’s having second thoughts and is considering having it altered to at least give her a waistline.

Another week goes by and I get the third call. “What are you doing tomorrow?” she asks. I’m thinking she wants to show off the finished product, but that’s not what she has in mind. She wants to go to another bridal shop to see another dress—one that she likes better. I’m free, so we make plans that include bringing along that different dress so we can compare the two.

As soon as we arrive, I notice a stunning gown hanging on the rack. She points to it—that’s the one. When she comes out of the dressing room with it on, she’s grinning and her face is glowing. The style and color are perfect for her (just what she wanted) and the fit is ideal. She doesn’t have to be convinced of that, either—she already knows.

The shopping has just begun, too. She also needs accessories and this place has them. We start with the jewelry and she finds the necklace quickly. The earrings take a little longer, but the matching set is there. Then, the shoes and the clutch are chosen. She’s found everything now and looks like a million bucks.

Okay, it’s settled—my sister’s happy and she’s going with this outfit no matter what the price. But before we go to pay for it, she’ll try on that other dress to get my honest opinion of it. Maybe it can still be tapered and she’ll wear it somewhere else.

When I see it on her, I’m shocked. It looks like a nightgown. She was right—it does resemble Maude’s attire, and it would have been a disaster if she had worn it to the wedding.

I tell her not to bother with the alterations—just wear it to bed. The owner of the shop suggests that she can use the jacket as a cover-up over a bathing suit. Good idea.

The total purchase for the new dress and accessories comes to over $400—a big jump in price, but she’s still grinning as she hands over her credit card.

“It’s so great having a sister to share this with,” she comments as we’re driving back home. I agree, it is great having a sister, and we both had a wonderful time shopping together.

And because of her experience, I also came home with the following shopping lessons for future shoppers that are well-worth sharing: 1) Always have confidence in your own judgment and never compromise when you’re buying something important, and 2) when in doubt, don’t place your trust in the sales clerk, especially when it’s a final sale and you can’t bring it back. Unless, of course, you don’t mind wearing a $90 nightgown that makes you look like Bea Arthur.

NOTE: My sister did alter the “other dress” a few years later and wore it to her second son’s wedding. It looked really nice on her with the changes, gave her the waistline that she wanted, and, most important of all, she didn’t look like Maude. It turned out to be a good purchase after all.

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