It wasn’t long after I declared to the world that I am a Size 18 and resolved to myself to love me despite the number that I was formally invited to attend the Make-A-Wish Big Wish Gala 2015. As an employee of such a vital organization that seeks to enrich the human experience with strength, hope and during a child and family’s most trying time while facing a life-threatening illness (a mission that I align with for very personal reasons as well); I felt excited to attend one of the most inspirational and successful fundraising nights of the year, but my new acceptance of myself did not for one second involve formal wear, especially not so soon.
What was I going to do? What was I going to wear? Nothing would fit, let alone look good and it mattered this time! Not to mention, I certainly couldn’t go to a formal work event not believing in myself after everything I had said about loving my curves. Well, the Universe, as we know by now, has a way of ensuring things happen just when they’re supposed to and my life is no exception. I looked around online for some cocktail dresses and was unsuccessful to say the least looking at pictures, so I made the brave and now undoubtedly brilliant decision to stop in Lane Bryant one Friday after work.
I scoped out the store, all exists in mind in case I needed to leave quickly (and hopefully no one would notice me before I did) and made a beeline for a display of black dresses near the back. I perused the rack, casually, I knew what I was doing after all, I had shopped for things before; but not in a store that was made for with bodies like my own. I was uncomfortable. My hands went back and forth between a classic black lace dress and short, royal blue skater dress. Whatever that was. I grabbed an 18 in the black and spun around to search for the dressing room when a friendly voice (oh GOD they’ve seen me!) said, “That dress has a really flattering fit and you should try on the blue one too since you kept looking at it.” I hesitantly turned around to see her smiling face right behind me.
“I can’t wear the blue one,” I said, “It’s really not me.”
Beth introduced herself and said, “All the more reason to try it on, you might be surprised,” and grabbed one as she ushered me to a dressing room. She asked me what occasion I was shopping for and I told her about Make-A-Wish and how I was excited to be attending my first work function. I was committed now, involved even, and my heart was racing, hands shaking as I tried on the black dress. Beth’s confidence somehow crept in and boosted my own, I couldn’t wait to see how I looked in a dress with my newfound opinion of myself.
It didn’t fit. I poked my head out of the dressing room, terrified, and my eyes locked on Beth across the store. She saw me and I motioned to her to come back.
“Need a different size?” she asked. I did and she got it while I hid behind the door.
Try #2. It fit…I think. I stuck my head out again. This time, she was waiting for me. “I think it fits” I said with hesitation.
“Come out and let me see!” she exclaimed. I did, very, very slowly.
“It looks great,” she said, “let me see what Kevin thinks too.” Oh no, I thought. Who’s Kevin?! I wanted to shrink into the floor. She yelled for Kevin and I heard a voice say “be there in a second.”
“You look fantastic,” he said, introducing himself as he rounded the corner,”But let me ask you, when is the last time you wore a new bra?” I think he could tell by the look on my face it was not anytime in recent history.
Beth did a fitting and Kevin said “Hold on,” and hurried away. He came back with a bright pink, black lace-trimmed bra and said, “Here, try this on.” I held it up. It didn’t look like me or my size.
‘I think it’s too small,” I said. Both Kevin and Beth looked at me expectantly and I turned around, back into the dressing room. I tried the pink beauty on, along with a strapless bra and in just 3.5 minutes (that it took me to wrestle into the strapless bra), I had never felt more supported in my life. As it turns out, I had been wearing the wrong cup size for two years and since I have lost two inches around my chest, I was also wearing a size that was far too big around.
I exited the dressing room, this time more confidently. Kevin and Beth were waiting and when I spun around, Kevin beamed, “Perfect,” he exclaimed, “You’ve got it, you just need to show it off.”
Kevin took me around the store and talked to me about different options I have in bras, how best to wear them (never the same bra two days in a row to allow the material to rest – so, yes, ladies you need a bra for just about everyday of the week) and he encouraged me to save my old garments for camping trips. Don’t worry, Kevin, they actually reached their final resting place in the trash can shortly after my visit with you. While I was there, I tried on several more bras, the blue dress (which we agreed didn’t look as good as the black one) and some tops. I have never felt so encouraged, supported or more beautiful while shopping for clothes. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was searching for “plus-size fashion,” but that I was just a girl looking for a dress for a big night out.
Kevin told me, “You know, size is just a number, don’t let it stop you from being the most beautiful you can be.” Thank you, Universe.
I was actually sad when I departed Lane Bryant nearly three hours later with the party dress, hot pink with black lace Smooth Boost Plunge Bra, the strapless wonder, several other bras too and two new BFF’s. For the next three days I couldn’t stop thinking about Kevin, Beth, the things they had said to encourage me, my experience at Lane Bryant or my new dress.
I attended the Big Hearts Gala with my sister and aside from my wedding day, have never felt as stunning as I did that night. I have also never heard so many compliments:
What I wore (in other words, if you wear anything starting at a size 12 or a 36C bra, go to your local Lane Bryant/Cacique or shop online right now. Eight out of ten women wear the wrong bra size too, don’t be one of them):
Attire made possible by The Fabulous Kevin and Beth at Lane Bryant Tuttle Crossing Mall who encouraged me to come out of my shell that day and start really believing I am beautiful.
- Black Lace Party Dress
- Multi-Way Stapless Bra in Black (seriously not one single problem all night, not one single adjustment)
Accessories made possible and selected to match Attire by the creative Rachel at Francesca’s Tuttle Crossing Mall
Hair made possible (and done exclusively) by the talented and lovely Lila at Evolution Straightener Tuttle Crossing Mall
Shoes made possible by Dolores at Macy’s Polaris Mall
- You want to check these beauties out
Thank you to each and every one of you who not only made this night possible, but a complete success for me. I’m even dressing to impress on casual days and weekends, feeling good about myself in Lane Bryant leggings and Cacique under garments. You would be proud, Kevin and Beth.
The moral of my story? The perfect dress (or bra) can pretty much change your opinion of yourself . The perfect shopping experience, like the one I had at Lane Bryant, can change your whole life.
Until the next mile marker,