I am living with regret, but it isn’t related to my father’s death last Tuesday evening.  Our entire family spent an amazing few days with him before he left us.  I’m still very sad and strangely exhausted all the time, but I was able to tell him everything I wanted to before he breathed his last.  I know that many of us don’t get this opportunity and that I was fortunate.  Thank you for your kind comments, thoughts and prayers for us.  (And by the way, everything good they tell you about hospice is true.)

No, my regret is a very trivial one:  I didn’t buy this Donna Morgan dress that I found for $39.99 at Filene’s Basement on Tuesday, September 13.

This cobalt blue dress looked vavoomingly fabulous, but I foolishly put it back on the rack because I didn’t have an immediate need for it and because I didn’t feel like dealing with the plunging neckline.  Then on Saturday, after riding my bike back to Filene’s Basement in order to give my subconscious a chance to absorb the enormity of my sister telling me that I should fly down to Florida as soon as possible, it was gone.

I tried other dresses instead, but none worked for me.  So I offer two takeaways from this experience.

First, if a dress makes your hourglass figure look amazing, you will always find an occasion to wear it.  If you wait for the occasion to buy the dress, you’re in danger of settling for something that simply covers you (for a work event) or something so revealing that you risk upstaging the bride (for a wedding).  Here is a midnight blue dress that I stumbled across at a local discount store four years ago:

It’s flowy lines weren’t appropriate for my corporate law firm, but it looked too good and cost too little to resist.  I ended up wearing it as we left our wedding reception in 2008, on a date with my husband, and, finally, to my dad’s funeral this past Saturday.

I know this rule isn’t always true because there have been items I’ve purchased and never worn, so here’s what I’ve come up with for deciding whether to purchase a great-looking dress that you don’t need immediately:

  • Timeless or classic style that isn’t boring . . .
  • a color that looks good on the wearer vs. simply a trend . . .
  • the dress expresses some element of the wearer’s personality . . .
  • the wearer can envision wearing the dress to more than just a formal wedding or fundraising gala . . . .

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear about what you’ve bought and worn or never worn.

Second, if the price is low but the neckline is even lower, buy two of the same dress.  In this case, the dress was available in two sizes.  Why, oh why didn’t I think to purchase both dresses and have a seamstress use fabric from one to fill in the neckline of the other?  Unfortunately, I only thought of this solution in the ICU waiting room on Sunday night.   I’ll remember this the next time I discover an amazing dress that isn’t quite perfect.  I’ve found someone who only does alterations (vs. drycleaning with alterations on the side), and I can’t wait to try her.  After all, ($39.99 X 2) + cost of alterations could result in great Cost Per Wear.

The flip side of these guidelines is also true:  Don’t buy a dress that doesn’t make you look and feel amazing.  I had been eyeing this Lafayette 148 shirtdress for a while.  Then it went on sale.

Lafayette 148 New York Ruched Shirtdress with Belt Fatigue 8

Lafayette 148 New York Ruched Shirtdress with Belt Fatigue 8 (clipped to polyvore.com)

No buttons,  lots of ruching at the bust and 50% off? Sign me up!

I picked it up from the post office on my way back from the airport this afternoon. “Matronly” comes to mind as I study this picture. How would you describe it? I knew I was in for a disappointment when I discovered a safety pin at the bustline from a previous purchaser who had returned it!