A Dress Appears, As If In A Dream….

LAURIE: I made my once-yearly visit to Barneys the other day. Or rather, I made my once-yearly visit to the 8th floor, a.k.a. Barneys Co-Op, a.k.a the only floor on which I do not get the sense that they are calling security on me–me with my broken-zippered windbreaker and the slight, sweaty sheen I get from riding the subway, no matter what time of year. I know that some of the city’s wealthiest people dress like bums, but I doubt that high-end retail staffs mistake me for one of those people.

store clerk from pretty woman.jpg
Coping with high-end retail staff: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

So I did my usual routine: Enter on Madison, cut a sharp left to the elevators, avoid eye contact with everyone and head right up to 8. On the way back down, I like to take the escalators and peek in on every floor. I usually stop and check out the lingerie on 6; sometimes an $80 bra gets marked down to $20. One summer evening several years ago, I was so rattled by the uppity saleswoman sizing up my Old Navy tank top and grubby sandals that I put a gorgeous, delicate, full-price, dry-clean-only set of bra and undies by Prada on my beleaguered Visa card. Two balance transfers, an accidental and devastating trip to the laundromat and a debt-reduction program later, I’m sure that I’m still paying that shit off.

But this time, on a mixed-brand rack in the center of the sales floor, I found a simple, casual white cotton dress, strapless, knee-length, and priced at just over a hundred bucks. I tried it on: it fit, and it would fit if I shaved off a few pounds, put on a few pounds, or stayed exactly the same. It was the very first potential wedding dress I tried on, and I bought it without even soliciting a second opinion.