I’m attending a convention in November and the theme for the Saturday night banquet is “the Prom”. I’ve been to my share of themed-parties, but a prom? The idea of satin and crinoline is kind of exciting even though I’m sixty-three years old. I haven’t been to a prom in nearly fifty years! Where in the world am I going to find a proper gown that doesn’t cost a couple of hundred bucks on a dress that may get worn for three hours, tops?

I need to call in the troops – my girlfriends! They’ll know where I can find a suitable ball gown without taking a second mortgage on our home.

“Go to the Good Will store, Gerri.” Now, that’s a novel idea; capitalize on someone else’s couple-of-hundred-bucks-dress-that-was-worn-for-three-hours for a fraction of David’s Bridal price tag! Piece of cake, right?

Wrong. Who knew the challenges of shopping for a prom gown at age sixty-three?

I have until November to find my prom gown, and traveling in our RV affords me a great selection of Good Will stores. I hit my first one in western Carolina, early-August. I suppose the high school prom queens haven’t yet headed for college, and Mom still needs to clean out their closets. No worry; we’d be heading east in a week or two and that meant lots more second-hand shopping. I still have three months to find the perfect dress.

We moved the RV closer to Charlotte and found several thrift shops on the same day. The first one had a limited selection, drab colors and Barbie-doll sizes. Sixty-three year old prom queens have boobs; high school prom queens haven’t sprouted theirs so good yet and are still too young for implants. Sheesh!

Onto the next store, a few miles away. Here I found a dreamy, lacy coral-colored floor length in my size. Be still my heart! It was gorgeous, and off I headed to the dressing rooms to check it out. What’s going on; the zipper won’t go up! I mean it, beyond snug; it was several inches shy of fitting. Could someone have sewn in a smaller size tag? Oh God, did I gain weight?

Time to put out another call to the girlfriends. Not being a connoisseur of Good Will stores, it never occurred to me that gowns are often altered to fit like a glove. Oh whew! I don’t need to go on a diet. Also, gown sizes run small. Really? Thank you girlfriends, for more insight into prom gown shopping.

Trying on anything at age sixty-three has its challenges, especially when one has lost in excess of one-hundred pounds; there’s the added consideration of loose skin. What used to support excess fat now jiggles unsupported. Add that to my irritation at Mother Nature’s idea of a joke (gravity), some of the stuff which used to be up around my thighs now kind of droops around my knees. I do want to kiss the sweetie-pie who invented control top panty hose, however!

So now it’s September and we’ve moved onto Virginia. We were returning to Lexington from a day-trip to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA and found some more Good Will stores. The first one was a dud – just a few cocktail type dresses but the second was pay-dirt; an upstairs ‘boutique’! I found several nice dresses, but the one and only fitting room was occupied with a bride and her entourage in search of the perfect wedding dress. It was apparent that it would be a considerable length of time before my turn. Sitting nearby on a rather dilapidated folding chair sat another mature shopper like me. Her scowl confirmed that she was next and don’t even think about sneaking in front of the line.

I wasn’t in love with any of my five potential selections and really couldn’t see waiting while the bride stalled us out with indecision and the bull-dog face growled in my direction. I gave up and left.

We’re now in Williamsburg and drove over to Virginia Beach for the sand-art festival. Along the way, I spotted not a Good Will, but a ‘Habitat for Humanity’ store. “Stop”, I exclaimed, startling my poor husband, who feared that I had seen a traffic hazard that he had missed. He didn’t share my exuberance but being the sweetie pie that he is, Dave circled back and parked.

There was a plethora of pretty dresses, several in my size! I could hardly contain my joy, finding a creamy pale green strapless floor-length. The size was a bit larger than what I wear, but remember, the girlfriends say that the sizes run smaller. I gathered it up, heading for the fitting rooms, which were not in an obvious place.

“Where can I try this on?”

“There’s a large mirror over there.” She pointed to a corner of the store.

“No, I mean where are the fitting rooms?”

“We don’t have fitting rooms – just try it on over your clothes.”

She obviously didn’t notice that I was wearing jeans. Okay, if I want to see how this dress looks on me, I’m going to have to put it on over my jeans. Dave helped me, and even with my t-shirt, the zipper went up with ease. If anything, the dress was going to be a little big but using a little imagination, I liked what I saw, even over the top of my clothing.

I’ll have to find a wrap of some sort, and maybe some higher heels. All the jiggly stuff that accompanies being sixty-three is fairly well concealed, I don’t have to go on a diet and maybe the twenty dollars I paid for my dress will go toward a nice house for a homeless family. I’ve got my prom gown. Bring on the prom!

6 Responses to Reflections from an RV 09/29/12
  1. Karen, that was so fun, shopping for the dress at thrift stores. When are you heading back to Florida? We need to get together. We won’t be home until Sunday after Thanksgiving and then I have a quick trip to Albuquerque. How long will you be in the Sunshine state this winter?

  2. I love your blogs. The dress looks great on you and I like the color. What a great price!

  3. It really was fun, frustrating and memorable to shop for the gown. It’s a little too big but for one night and twenty bucks, I’m not complaining!

  4. LOVE IT GERRI! The color is so you! And your story is priceless! Thanks so much for sharing my new friend!

  5. Maybe you’ll come to the convention!

  6. You found it!! Yeah. It’s lovely. And of course, I expect pictures don’t ya know!

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