Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Outfit by Flatbush

Or, the true cost of an $18 dress.

This coming weekend, the blessed nuptials of MuppetLover and her wonderful husband-to-be will take place somewhere on Long Island (note to self: uh, Google Map that shit). Last Saturday I was thinking about going over to Lee Lee's Valise to buy a new dress for the occasion. However, I have a bad habit of not being able to leave Lee Lee's without dropping a lot of dough and besides, my co-conspirator Alphabets was MIA. Also, I was feeling kind of lazy about taking the bus over to Carroll Gardens. Yes, I am that lazy.

So, I was taking a walking in my own neighborhood down Flatbush Avenue when I passed the small boutique Redberi. Redberi is a place I rarely enter because the clothes are usually too small and the prices are usually too high for me. On that Saturday I was drawn in by big sale signs in the windows. As predicted, the dressed were tiny, but I almost picked up a bright red cotton eyelet jacket that was reduced. Eh, since I wasn't 100% in love with the jacket, I left.

My appetite for shopping had been whetted, which is a pretty rare occurrence, so I continued down the block to Hooti Couture. Hooti Couture is a very friendly vintage shop, the anti-Beacon's Closet of our area in Brooklyn, where I pop in sometimes. I'm not crazy about consignment shopping, but I'll pick up odds and ends like cheap jewelry and dinner napkins. I went immediately for a pair of round, white, over-sized sun glasses. I've always felt there are only two occasions where white sunglasses are appropriate - if you're hanging out on a beach with Gidget, or if you're at a summer wedding.

With the sunglasses in hand, I started browsing the racks of dresses. Everything was on sale to get ready for some renovations and the arrival of the Fall Collection. I came upon a dress that made me stop flipping through the rack - it's a dress that would stop anyone who is able to discern color. The dress has a modest cut, a very late 60s, or early 70's style. It's sleeveless with a slight ruffle at the color. And, the dress is bright pink with large, silk screened green elephants with their trunks wrapped around palm trees. It is ... bewildering. It's like a perverse take on J.Crew lobster print preppie culture, the kind of thing you could never wear to a wedding, unless that wedding happened to be MuppetLover's wedding. Also, the dress was my size - almost.

I took it into the dressing room, and the dress nearly zipped up. I needed about 3/4" more room. I had the sense that if it would only zip up, it would look pretty great. So I took the dress to Allison, the owner of the shop who was working behind the counter. Allison is pleasantly kooky. I asked her if she thought there was enough material to take out so that I could fit into the dress by next Saturday. After examining the darts and the seams, she thought for sure it could be done, and she recommended the tailor at Golden Touch Cleaners, across the street also on magical Flatbush. The dress was $36 dollars, marked down to $18 - I figured I couldn't go wrong. I also took the white sunglasses: $10 marked down from $18.

While I still had the dress on me, I went back to Redberi. I thought I would take advantage of the sale there to accessorize the dress. If there's anything we learned from Four Weddings and a Funeral, it is that women ought to wear hats to weddings. In fact, I blame my failure to get lucky at the California wedding on the fact that I neglected to wear a hat (I'm sure it has nothing to do with me me looking like a sea lion in the photographs I've seen from that trip. It's like someone stopped by Pier 39 in San Francisco, picked up a sea lion, drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway, and shoved it into a brown and white polka-dotted dress. Egads.) So, I bought a big green hat to match the elephants. In fact, there were two green hats that matched - I bought the bigger one. Do you see where I'm going with this? It's going to look smashing with the giant white sunglasses. Hat cost: $48. I also bought a green sequined clutch that was originally $72 - I got it for 40% off. It's a really sweet, well made purse with leather bottom and zipper.

Then I went to the tailor, explained what I needed, and dropped off the dress for alterations and dry cleaning. $28+ I walked home with a bunch of accessories and no guarantee the dress would fit me. But hey, it's just an $18 dress, right? No big loss.

I still needed two more essential pieces. White or green shoes and a cardigan or wrap. So on Sunday, I continued my quest to dress myself entirely by what I could find on Flatbush Avenue and went down to Atlantic Terminal. I don't think I've worn white shoes since I was a little girl at Easter, but I found some patent leather peek-a-boo toe sling backs at DSW. I was hoping for a nice pair of green flats, but I couldn't say no to the price. Although I've never heard of the brand name before, the wedge heels were on clearance for $24.99. If I can wear them twice, I'll be happy.

Finally I went to Target. I wanted something with a deeper shade of green, but just being able to find something and get out of the store without punching someone in the face is always a major victory. Cherokee Cardigan: $16.99

The last thing I need is a pair of big, white hoop earrings. I should have gotten them at Hooti before they closed for renovations!

I picked up the dress at the tailor's tonight. Guess what? It fits! Here's a preview.


Korin said...

that's one of the most delightfully absurd outfit creations I've ever heard of! Good luck from one wandering blogger to another!

Beta said...

Awesome. I can't wait to see the whole she-bang. That print is such a find!

ana said...

Oh lordy, that's some kind of awesome.

laHip said...

I miss you even more in that dress.