Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A dress for Llama: Denied!

Last weekend Mom and I drove all over town to visit a few specific bridal stores that had certain lines or sizes of mother-of-the-bride dresses to see if we could improve on the dismal options we saw in the department stores the weekend prior. I wouldn't call the weekend's shopping a resounding success, but we did come away with some leads, which was a relief. Unfortunately, there is one word that has kept coming up throughout the search:


DOH. You know what that means... when the saleslady says it's the only one left and it can't be ordered, she's not just putting the hard sell on. We first ran into this Sunday afternoon at a boutique that only sells off-the-rack -- a good and a bad thing. They had a lovely (discontinued) navy dress in just the right size, but the beading on the top was in really bad shape. Here it is in purple:

Caterina 3006 (pic from a knockoff site)

The saleslady said she would give us 10 percent off for the problems, but beading is no walk in the park to fix back up, so we walked away and hoped that we could find the style online. Turns out this thing is thoroughly discontinued. I found one on eBay that is a few sizes too small and a couple of websites peddling knockoffs, but it looks like it's been some years since ol' Caterina 3006 was on the market.

Then yesterday, Mom went off on her own to peruse a couple more local shops she had found online. One of them, a place called Strictly Social, had an amazing and very encouraging website with hundreds of dresses in a wide range of sizes. Unfortunately, the store didn't offer all that the website did, as if often the case, and the ones Mom liked best were -- you guessed it -- discontinued. Like this pretty little number:


Would have been PERFECT. Alas!! I did find two random formalwear stores that had this online and possibly in the right size, but the big problem when dealing with fancy dresses and specialty stores is that anything you order is often not returnable. If mom bought a dress from a store, she'd be ordering fit-unseen, so it theoretically could look like total crap (even though I doubt it would). I guess that's what measurement charts are for, but still...

The good news is that there is a dress available at a reasonable price that Mom has tried on and liked well enough! (Of course, you'd always want to like a special occasion dress more than "well enough," but in the interest of time and frugality, that may just have to do here.) Here's the current front-runner:

Mom tried it on in this color, sans brooch thingy, and it looks really nice -- although she might go for the teal or navy that we saw swatches of. The ruffles at the neckline aren't really sleeves, but they provide about the same coverage as the first of the discontinued dresses did.

There are still more boutiques to peruse and department stores to visit and revisit in hopes of seeing new seasonal inventory, but we do sorta need to get crackin' since this shindig is less than three months away. I'll let you know how the search pans out. Does anybody have any more brilliant thoughts on where to find a good deal on mama dresses that aren't ugly or gaudy? What do you think of these three?

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