I first saw the dress on Wednesday afternoon while browsing through the racks in a street stall on Broadway. I immediately loved both the style and the print. “I might just have to get this,” I commented to my co-worker, showing her the dress. “I wonder how much it is.”
With the dress in hand, anticipating a bargain, I approached a nearby vendor. “Excuse me. How much is this?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s $20,” he said, “But it’s not mine. It’s his.” He pointed to another man and then ducked under a divider to return to his own stall.
I admired the dress some more. As a Salvation Army devotee, $20 is at the high end of my spending range. But… the dress was really cute and, I reminded myself, $20 is NOT a lot to pay for a dress. With a cardigan, I’d even be able to wear it to work. Having quickly convinced myself and with encouragement from my colleague (who astutely recognized both the aforementioned cuteness factor and the reasonable price), I walked over to the second man.
“I’d like to buy this,” I said, holding up the dress.
“Ok,” he said. “It’s $29.”
“Oh,” I stammered, “$29? The other man said it was $20.”
“What man?” he asked, and I pointed to the misinforming individual. They exchanged a few brisk words in a language I couldn’t understand.
“No,” he replied, turning back to me, “$29.”
“Is there any chance you could go down on the price?” I asked.
“No,” he repeated firmly, “$29.” Reluctantly, I returned the dress to the rack. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
But I kept thinking about the dress. It really was so cute and I could dress it up or dress it down. Very versatile! Also, $29 isn’t unreasonable. It’s only $9 more than I’d been prepared to spend. That’s just two coffees at Starbucks!
So, on my last day in the city, after two days of internal debate, I realized I still had some spending money in my pocket. (We’ll ignore the entirely unrelated decision to use my credit card for some small purchases.) I decided to splurge and buy myself the dress as a New York City memento. I returned to the vendor, hoping the dress was still there. And luckily, it was! There was no place to try it on, but a S/M should fit. I’d just have to buy it on faith. I pulled it off the rack and happily paid my $29.
The next day, back in Maine, I was eager to try on the dress. After untying the wrap, I realized that the dress was sewn together in the interior–a sort of fake wrap. Hmmm…I guess I must put it on over my head. Diving into the dress, I realized quickly that this wasn’t going to be a smooth operation. I wiggled and contorted, keeping an ear out for any sound of fabric ripping. Finally, after a fair amount of exertion, I got the dress on—and it fit! I untied the wrap and examined the interior waist again–no button…sewn tight. Hmmmm. After another bout of gymnastics, I was able to pull it off over my head. Phew!
The following day was warm and sunny–Perfect inaugural sundress weather! But this time the dress seemed even harder to get on. I guess this is what I get for buying a dress off the streets of New York without trying it on, I thought. I tugged, pulled and wriggled. Who was this dress intended for anyway? Determined, knowing it would fit if I could only get it on, I persevered. It felt like a birth scene! Finally, my shoulders emerged from the tight waist and I could easily pull the dress down, where it settled nicely into place. Once on, there was nothing to indicate my battle.
“Cute!” my daughter commented when I emerged from my room.
“You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get on,” I exclaimed.
Later that day, my hand brushed across my side. Huh? What was that ridge? My fingers lingered, following a raised line under the fabric. It ran right along the seam, up the side of the dress. What could it be? Oh….Understanding quickly blossomed, along with chagrin. It was… a zipper! All this time, I’d been battling with the dress and the answer was only a quick, albeit well-concealed, zip away. That night I smoothly pulled the zipper down and easily stepped out of the dress. How many times before, I wondered, have I missed such a simple solution?