Buying Bulimia, Fashion Shows, Flattery, and Meltdowns.

Deception is a miserable device. It is cunning, suave, even seems good, packages well, but ultimately proves to be ruthless. Deception can be defined as a subtle attack through a variety of discreet tactics, used by adversaries against their opponents with the ultimate goal of inflicting masterful pain & defeat. You never really know how or when it will strike or the magnitude of the damage if you fall prey to it.

I found myself today in an extremely precarious situation regarding shopping. I had done due diligence in mentally preparing for the challenge of fine retail exposure. In fact, it seemed to me that I’d become quite comfortable with the act of “shopping to browse vs.  shopping to buy”. So, the idea that I was going to a Spring Fashion Show for one of my favorite designers was of little consequence to me. I was well able to handle it. When I arrived,  I had a front row seat, adorned with a beautiful painted fuchsia & tangerine cookie shaped like dress. Shortly after being seated, a conversation began between me and my newfound friend, Charlotte with whom I fondly discussed the joys of raising small children.  It was a grand event. The store had even provided a “photo booth”, set up to capture moments with the Ms. Unger and to show off the new outfits! I, still feeling quite composed came to party alone and nothing preventing me from slipping out immediately post presentation. So Far. So Good. Undistracted by the vibrant colors, beautiful fabrics, exquisite personal service, drinks and appetizers, I determined to enjoy my time learning about Kay Unger and her new line of summer deliciousness. At least that’s what I thought.

Here’s a little of what I saw….

   

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the personal shopping with Kay herself. I made the mistake of loitering a bit after the show in order to get a photograph and compliment her sheer design brilliance. What I love about Ms. Unger is her uncompromising committment to the classic feminine silhouette. Her style is wistfully conservative; her craftsmanship lovely while still delivering the “edgyness” necessary for providing modern flare. She achieves this tastefully through sublime fabrics and creatively thoughtful notions such as chiffon trim, jeweled buttons and the like. I always feel polished and Park Avenue-esque when wearing one of Kay’s beautiful garments. I began to chat with her about how much I loved her work and she admired the bright orange dress I was holding as being a perfect color for me. Slowly but surely, I was entertaining a bit of flattery….the first sign toward a slippery slope.

Eventually, I unknowingly spoke the words of death by asking a simple question

“Ms. Unger, if you could choose 1 special occasion dress from the entire collection for me, which would it be?”

That was the beginning of the end for me, along with 2 sales associates, and the department manager who also fell in to the hypnotic trance of Ms Unger. Before I could even lock the dressing room door, Kay had waltzed in with the most breathtaking satin, emerald-green dress. “I can wear green?” I responded in sheer amazement. “Absolutely!” she cried with the most convincing look of approval. Shortly after I was poured into this sheath, escorted out of the dressing room, and into the storefront, where Ms. Unger proudly unveiled her discovery:  Shopfast Girl In the Green Dress.

At this point, many unfamiliar eyes were fixed upon me and I had a stomach-ache. It wasn’t about loving the dress, or the cost of the dress, or evening buying the dress. My pain was multi-faceted: How would I explain a “shopfast” to the “Bureau Of Fashion Commerce and Impulsive, Irrational, Spending Division?” How could I look at one of my admired fashion icons in her face and say graciously, “Your dress is lovely….but not worth turning my back on this project, you and the rest of the world probably think is delusional?”  How do I explain to the 2 sales clerks, manager, and the designer herself, who helped me try on 16 different dresses, that I had no intention of buying a thing.

I couldn’t. I didn’t know how.

Strutting the green dress straight into the photo booth, with Kay in tow, we grinned for the cameras, while others in the lobby echoed “Is she going to get it!? It’s fabulous!” In fact, on older gentleman voiced “I can’t believe you don’t already own that! I mean, it’s YOUR dress!” Inside of the booth I whisper to Kay, “Well, you see, I have this blog…um, ah hem… I mean… I’m sort of on a 365 shopfast. I’m not supposed to buy any…” Before I could finish, she curtly responded “You need to stop that! It’s time to break that fast” I shut up right away, we snapped the picture and I was left to make my decision.

Deciding poorly, I bought the dress. Quickly, ashamed, and completely heartsick, I bought it and hustled out of that mall. Feeling like a failure, a fraud and completely disgusted, I drove home. I mean, I can take it back right? Great. Now I have buying bulimia. Fantastic. Another issue.  I deliberated. Even though, I’d purposed to return the dress and continue on, I still felt terrible. As I pulled in the driveway, I reached for the picture, which unbeknownst to me, she had signed……

   

When I saw it read “Dear Aimee, So Glad You Broke Your Fast”, I stared in disbelief.

It didn’t say : Your dress was gorgeous, or The dress is perfect for you….or even It was worth it. What it did say, was “I’m glad you broke your fast”.  Please understand, I’m not scrutinizing the content of Ms. Unger’s sentiments. She is delightful! She’d not be privy to the underlying effects of such words. I realized immediately that I’d been deceived by an unforseen player in this game. I began to sob, uncontrollable, in fact.

Could I have returned the dress and kept it a secret? Sure. Would it still count? Sure. I mean, the dress hasn’t even entered my home. However, it’s exposing the total truth….the hidden stuff that makes us free. I had a downfall today. I tripped. That’s okay. But, rather than justifying the error, or building an alliance of people to support my weakness, or even trying to find a way to keep a dress, I’ve chosen to a different way.  The dress is going back tomorrow. I’ll share my lost battles right along with the ones I win.  I’ll be taking ground. I’ll finish my course.

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