Goodwill shopping reminds me of a lottery scratch-it. Most often I expend a lot of time or energy scratching the surface and either come up empty handed or find something basic that barely justifies the time commitment. Other times, beautifully rare times, I am rewarded with a fantastic prize.
For better or for worse, I work about 3 blocks from a small Goodwill store. This particular Goodwill is in a [for lack of a better vocabulary] richer neighborhood. There are a lot of young professionals working and living in high rent condos. The clothes on display are chosen to appeal to that demographic.
On this particular rainy Friday, I ducked into the Goodwill on my way to meet Greg for dinner downtown. I was not looking for anything in particular. Though if I saw something I loved, I was willing to leave with a “red carpet dress” that could be used for a Film Awards Gala event at work next month.
A swatch of rosy lace with highlights of gold beckoned to me, and I found this dress.
It was a color I knew I look good in (my college graduation dress is a similar color). It was also a mixture of flashy and subdued. I like clothes that can transition between night-out and work. At $12.99, as long as it fit, the dress would be a good investment.
I continued to peruse the dress rack, clutching this dress tightly, and was struck by how many dresses still had their original tags. We have all bought those clothes that we intend to lose weight for or get the pant legs shortened, and then years later we give them away with the tags still on. But I just couldn’t fathom why anyone would donate a pretty dress that cost them $130. [The discussion of our buy-too-much and throw-a-way culture can wait for another day.]
When I got home and showed my treasure to Greg, he thought the dress had a vaguely bridesmaid-y aura to it.
The possible life-history of the dress abruptly shifted in my mind. The primary reasons bridesmaid dresses go unworn is the postponement or cancelation of a wedding. My feelings toward the dress are now bittersweet. I remember how excited I felt when my friends asked me to be a bridesmaid in their weddings. Even if dresses are material things, I form deep emotional connections between those dresses and the friends I love so dear. I hope that I can find enough meaningful uses for this dress to overwrite its [possible] history.