The dress that caught my attention

The dress that caught my attention

Part Two:
In which Debby acquires authentic French Fashion

My designer of choice for the past few years has been Eddie Bauer, but Eddie Bauer doesn’t make clothes fancy enough for a fancy wedding, which is what I will be attending at the end of June. I figured I would set my sights higher and shop at, say, The Bay. I did not plan to buy a wedding outfit in France, of all places. I am (as evidenced from the previous post) more interested in food than fashion when it comes to this fine country.

I did, however, contemplate buying a comfortable and perhaps stylish pair of walking shoes. So after leaving the food hall, Pamela and I headed north and east, to do some shoe shopping. What struck me about the area was that it was filled with many of the same stores we have back home in Southgate, West Ed, and just about every mall in North America: Sephora, Zara, H&M, Timberland. I found that both unsettling and a tiny bit comforting, rather the way you might feel if an old toothache suddenly acted up when you were in, say, Kurdistan.

At any rate, I didn’t see any shoes that I liked, but while walking past a woman’s clothing boutique, Devernois, I noticed a pretty grey dress hanging just past the display window.

My niece, Alex, is getting married at the end of June. Apparently, grey is the “in” color for the festivities. My sister suggested that if I was planning to buy a new dress, I should look for something in that color.

I’ve looked in Edmonton. I even tried on some dresses a few weeks back, with my friend Sheri. But the dress in Devernois was the first grey dress I’d seen (other than the one my sister is wearing, which is out of the question for many reasons, not the least of which are that she is wearing it, and it would look dreadful on me).

Eva (or maybe it was Ewa), the saleslady in Devernois, was immensely helpful. Perhaps the most helpful thing she did was to first bring me a dress that was two sizes too large for me. Generally when I shop, I wind up trying on things that are too small for me, which is discouraging and depressing and makes me want to buy nothing but socks and paper products.

Eva’s tactic was highly effective:

  1. It made me realize that unlike in Asia, where women who wear anything over a size 2 are forced to don horse blankets and king-sized flat sheets, in France I might actually be able to purchase an authentic garment. Who says French women don’t get fat?
  2. It made me feel good enough about myself to want to continue shopping.

The grey dress fit well, and it was one of the most comfortable articles of clothing I’ve ever tried on. It is fashioned from materials that I generally avoid (viscous, acrylic, polyester) but which, like chopped liver (liver, eggs, onions), manage to overcome their individual deficiencies and combine to make something truly wonderful.

Added bonus: it is a genuine French souvenir, made in Roanne, about 100 km northwest of Lyon. (Devernois, the manufacturer, has been in business for more than 80 years. The clothes are sold in Europe, but not North America.)

However, even though the dress felt so good, and looked even nicer with a cardigan, and the saleslady offered me a discount of slightly more than 10 percent, I felt I was being impulsive. I decided to think about it, so I put the outfit on hold.

Then, Pamela and I changed directions, as she said, and we went looking for other grey dresses. Not one came close to the Devernois dress in terms of comfort or fit, but still, I was reluctant.

Pamela and I returned to her apartment at about 3 p.m. We had tea and visited, and she started making dinner and I did a little writing. I was waiting for Dave, thinking I could bring him back to the store. But when he finally stumbled in at 6 p.m., he was too tired to go anywhere. So Pamela and I returned to the store, where I paid for my first authentic French garment, which means that I am now officially fashionable, and I no longer have to shop for a dress for Alex and Tevie’s wedding.

Instead, I have to buy a pair of shoes, because I have nothing that matches the dress…

The complete outfit

The complete outfit


7 Responses

  1. Beautiful, elegant dress. Love it. And you look wonderful in it.

    • Thanks, Debra!

  2. Magnifique!

    • Thanks, Wendy!

  3. Very pretty and the jacket completes the ensemble. I understand the stress; in my week off anticipating the new job, I felt I had to go from “Venice Casual” to “Downtown Chic,” almost a personality makeover as much as a style one! Very stressful and lots of shopping. Very helpful to have a friend help.

    • Thanks, Liz. I’d forgotten how stressful shopping can be – until I went to all those stores after Devernois and nothing was right. Maybe that’s why I only own five dresses… (And also because when you are self-employed, you can always write in your nightshirt and nobody will care.)

  4. Love the dress and the cardigan. You look great and You’ll get a lot of wear out of it.

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