Ah, the pain and the pleasure of buying a new dress.
Yes, it can be great fun to take a dozen or two dresses into the fitting room — best done with a good friend in tow — and try them on. It can also be a harsh reality check on just how pale you are after a long winter and what the aging process actually does to your upper arms (nothing good, I assure you).
However, with the (aka ) less than a week away, it was time to man up and find a dress!
In pure Patch style, I'm taking you along with the help of my camera phone. You can vote on what I wear to Mom Prom and find out what lessons I learned along the way.
Ruffles, ruffles, ruffles
My first stop was a downtown favorite, , the pretty yellow house on Third Street. What I love about Talulah Belle — besides the friendly staff — is the unique product. With 225 Rochester women in one place at the same time, there's something to be said for uniqueness.
I tried on three dresses at Talulah Belle and loved them all. The watercolor ruffle dress got the most votes from friends and family and, as luck would have it, I saw the perfect pair of sky blue shoes to wear with it from .
But I tend to wear a lot of black, especially for formal occasions, and I'm not sure I can swing the multicolored dress. While I'm keeping it in mind, my search continues.
My next stop took me to , where I tried on two lovely dresses that would be perfect for summer weddings but lacked the sass I want in my Mom Prom dress.
By the way, all five dresses were heavy on ruffles. At this point, I'm not sure nonruffled dresses are out there anymore!
Lesson learned: Holy glow-in-the-dark legs, Batman! Time to start the self-tanner!
Day 2 of the great dress hunt
This is what I love about — the selection (where else can you take 30 dresses into a fitting room?) and the sale prices. When Parisian has a sale, it does not mess around. The Friends & Family Sale is going on right now, knocking an additional 25 percent off already great prices. (But please note, the sale ends Monday!)
Needless to say, I started my second day of shopping there, coupon in pocket.
Yes, Parisian has a lot of dresses, and you can't get a good idea of how they look until you try them on. So there I was, in a big fitting room with 30 dresses. And because it's right there, I also ventured into the juniors department and grabbed some of those dresses to try on.
Lesson learned: Even if you can fit in a dress, that doesn't mean you should wear it. Juniors dresses are, well, for juniors.
I did find two dresses I loved, one black asymmetrical dress with ruffles and one in a lavender-silver hue with a flowered bodice. Best of all, with sale prices, I could get both dresses for about $100.
The White House Black Market way
I've heard that does a lot of business, and now I know why. Talk about customer service and the up-sell — White House Black Market has it down to an art.
When I walked in, I was immediately approached and asked what I was shopping for. When I told the associate it was for a charity event, she asked for my dress size and then whipped around the store like a whirling dervish, putting together seven dresses with matching shoes, jewelry, shrugs and the whole nine yards.
A dressing room full of beautiful things was created just for me. However, my time was running short and my minivan was about to turn back into a pumpkin, so I tried on just one of the dresses. Oh, my — it was a knockout. It was also the most expensive dress I had tried on, at $168.
And that is where I stand now — lots of options but no dress in hand. So I ask you, which dress is your favorite?
And I leave you with one last valuable lesson: Even if you're not writing a column about dresses, the phone camera is very handy in helping you remember what you tried on and for getting friends' and husband's feedback. It can also be more honest than looking in a mirror.
The fourth annual Charlotte's Wings Benefit begins at 6 p.m. Friday at the . The event includes hors d'oeuvres, dinner and a cash bar, along with a silent auction and live entertainment. Spots may be reserved by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The message should include your full name and number of seats needed. Tickets cost $75 a couple or $40 for individuals.
Speaking of moms
If you are looking for Mother's Day ideas and missed my Friday column, click . It includes ideas on where to eat, what to do and, my favorite, what to buy!