I look at myself in the dreaded three-way mirror. The department store that I found myself in sells great clothes, but the lighting and mirrors in the dressing rooms need some work. Granted, my unkempt, unwashed hair doesn’t look amazing. Neither do the dark circles that have taken up permanent residence under my eyes. No matter, something else has my attention at the moment: the little black dress and the blazer that I am trying on. I spotted this dynamic duo as soon as I walked into the store. The length of the dress is perfect for a “youngish” mother of three. The blazer boasts a nice snug fit. I can definitely dress this look up or down. I walk around to the bigger mirror, take a longer look, and decide then and there that I will buy both pieces. Who cares if I’ll be all dressed up with nowhere to go?
Just as I am planning the jewelry and accessories I will wear to complete the look (I’m picturing my Ippolita gold necklace and bangles as the perfect complements to this minimalist look), I practically collide with the saleslady who has come check on my progress. When I shop, I usually have a very limited amount of time. Unless I have a specific question or can’t reach a particular top, I try my hardest to steer clear of the sales staff. I’m usually in my own world, rushing to try the outfit on, while trying not to wake my youngest son who is sleeping in his stroller and still be on time to pick up my other children. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a loyal lady—I know commission is the name of the game. I am eternally grateful for the pre-sale Prada pumps my saleslady let me take two days before said pre-sale. I’m thankful for the saleslady who, despite my annoying requests (I like to pay half cash/half credit), smiles and manages to make me feel like I deserve the splurge. However, on this particular day, I had no need for her advice or support: I liked the outfit. I had exactly enough time to pay, purchase and bolt out the door.
The saleslady apparently had time to spare. She was thrilled to “have found me hiding in the dressing room.” I smiled, explained I would be right out, and turned away. My intention was to quickly end the conversation and make my purchase. I guess the message was less-than-clear. The saleslady misread my signs. Instead, she took my quick exit as a sign that I needed her empathy, or that I needed her as a shopping buddy and/or a psychiatrist. She looked at me apologetically, and said, “These cuts aren’t always right for everybody. I love this designer. But try as I might, I haven’t found his clothes fit me well either.” I was caught off guard, and may have even stumbled over my own flip-flops. I stood there and was uncomfortably trying to signal to Irene that taking the dress off would mean getting naked. I wasn’t about to have a heart-to-heart, in the nude no less, with the saleswoman. She did not get the hint. She then added insult to injury when she suggested a padded bra. “Maybe,” she said, “I could even get you some perfect Spanx or lightweight pantyhose from the lingerie department.” I stared at myself in the mirror. I was ready to drop big bucks on this outfit and the saleslady had just ruined my self-esteem and her own commission. I wasn’t sure who had worse taste and tact — me, for not noticing my apparently too-small chest, or the saleslady, for stepping out of line and giving her much-too-honest opinion.
Call me stubborn or delusional, but I did not want a padded bra. I have never had large breasts and I think my smaller chest fits my petite frame just fine, thank you very much. And, no, I did not want to be sweating and squished in Spanx that I didn’t think I needed in the first place. I was happy with the way the dress and blazer looked. Why then, did I leave the department store without the outfit? Because even though I know that the way we dress and the accessories we choose are all about personal choices, unfortunately, other people’s opinions matter (to me, at least).
This dressing room disaster got me thinking about honesty, and specifically, whether there is such a thing as too much honesty? I love a loyal, tell-it-like-it-is friend. I appreciate the feedback and am grateful for the women and men in my life that know me well. I guess that’s the luxury in having good friends. These are the people who know us and respect our limitations and faults and celebrate our strengths.
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I will express gratitude for my nearest and dearest friends and family. I am grateful for those who can distinguish the fine line between being honest versus being rude. Most of all, I appreciate the wise words of my my kindergarden teacher who taught me, above all, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.