The Lady Black Lace
by Katie Jordan Snyder
My stomach was in knots, I couldn’t stop smiling, and slowly the realization that this might be the one was becoming a reality in my mind. That is right. I knew it. I found the perfect dress.
Finding the perfect dress for a girl can be very stressful. Many girls agonize over all the possibilities and things like will someone else have “my” dress. But to me, dress shopping is like a day at the spa. Now I am not red carpet clientele or royalty, so I cannot afford to spend a day in a marbled room, with cucumbers on my eyes, and lounging about in a robe, even though I would very much like to. However, I can get my relaxation kicks from going into a store, being surrounded by beautiful gowns, and finding that one made just for me.
Finding that one dress for my very first Marine Corps Birthday Ball was extremely fun and relaxing. Everything at a real military ball is more sophisticated and centered on an expectation of an appropriate image. Not only would I represent my date and his command, but I also would be there to celebrate the birth of a great force and all those who have died in its name. So technically finding a dress for this occasion probably should have been more sober. But, let’s face it: I walk into a store and see sparkles and silk, and I get excited every time.
Finding out I got to go to the USMC Birthday Ball was very exciting, and I also knew it would be coupled with a relaxing, fun day of finding the dress. So one beautiful summer day my older sister, my best friend, and I made our way to Anjoliques, which is in Lincolnton, NC, near the square. It is a beautiful little boutique tucked away with grace and poise, looking like an oasis. The lack of parking spaces made it seem even more exclusive, but luckily we found one. With big bay windows filled with display dresses that drew our eyes, the store beckoned us toward it as sirens do wayward sailors. The difference, however, is their beauty did not draw us to danger but to bliss. So we did as our sirens bade us and headed for the door. As soon as we walked through the doors, the smell hit me, and I knew my “spa day” had begun.
I looked around at all the colors and saw fiery red, calming greens and blues, and of course the ever elegant black. We walked through racks swollen with dresses as different as night and day. Ball gowns and sleek curve hugging gowns were all around, as well as the newer fashion of short dresses. I decided I did not care too much for those. Sorting through the others, I found my worries being wiped away with every caress of a new gown. I was able to let my mind wander and fantasize about how I would look in each sparkly one that caught my eye. Above all, I knew that while in the store I could let go and just be a nineteen-year-old girl with her “sis” and friend shopping for a dress with no complications.
With the help of my sister and dear friend, we compiled an extensive wardrobe of dresses for me to try. We located an attendant of the store and headed off to the dressing room to see which dress would win the battle. Each dress was very different. I tried on some with enough crinolines to stand on their own and some that were so silky soft I felt as if I were wearing air. Some had feathers, others zippers and a few were studded top to bottom with sparkles and glitter while also embellished with buttons. I felt as if I were in a massive parade of straps, beads, solid colors, and ones that fade. I was having all the fun in the world and felt as if I had every luxury life could offer, as if at an exclusive spa. I also noted all eyes were on me. As if I were Queen of England taking her summer tour of the realm, I walked about the entrance to the dressing room. I knew not only the eyes of my companions were on me. This made me feel as if all others were subjects who had come to watch the procession of their sovereign and her attire so they could rush to mimic. The thought made me giddy. I began to twirl.
Twirling in the mirror is another great part of dress shopping. Not only did I get to see the garments from different angles on my body, but also that is when the compliments started raining down on me. While I spun and admired myself in the mirror, my sister and friend told me how every dress looked, making my vanity and pride burst with compliments like, “Wow that is so pretty” and “That one does wonders for your body.” All the while in the background I heard my other admirers echo these statements and add ones of their own, all of which made me smile so much that my cheeks hurt by the time I was halfway through the colorful parade.
Yet there was one chink in that beautiful chain of fantasy gowns. I had loved them all, but I had not fallen in love with a single one. Sadness washed over me, knowing my day “at the spa” was ending unsuccessfully. I changed back into my dull everyday clothes, no longer queen, and tried to lift my spirits by telling myself that all that meant was I get another day with a better ending. As I trudged back to the main part of the store, making my way to join my sister and friend to leave, that is when I saw it.
The dress was hanging on a manikin in the back of the store, in its own little world, as if it had hidden from me until the perfect moment. I knew it was the one even before I put it on. The strap was off to one shoulder, and the whole garment was the color of a raven’s feathers. The waist from right under the bosom to where the hips began was encased by a lace bodice overlay that sparkled a deeper shade of black. The back was open from the nape of my neck to the small of my back, and the sparkle lace elegantly extended around, so it could be tied back in a bow. This was the dress of my dreams. So elegant, yet it would catch every eye, a dress tailored for me.
I rushed over and asked a store attendant to help me get it to the dressing room. I tore my clothes back off and slipped perfectly into the gown. The fit was like sliding my hand into a custom glove. To me this was like getting the platinum treatment at any spa. Needless to say, the gown fit all the criteria needed for the Ball. This dress was not a flashy teen prom dress but a gown of maturity with a young face. My sister and best friend were stunned when I came out in the dress, and said hands down that there was no other dress to top this one. My stomach was in knots; I could not stop smiling as the fact that this was the one came fully into my awareness. I had found the perfect gown that every girl dreams of.
The fact that I had found the one was overpowering. Washing away all remnants of disappointment and gloom, replacing them with indescribable relaxation. My search was over, and I would leave with peace of mind. This was the perfect ending to my day: my day at my kind of spa.