The Conquest of the Century 21

As I pondered the possibility that even I – reknown shopping predator – couldn’t triumph over the beast that is Century 21, I happened upon the cocktail dress section. Some of the stuff had serious transitional, work-to-party potential. My arms laden with stuff, I met Krip at the dressing room entrance for one more shot. She looked disheveled and exhaustified.

Also like she wanted to kill me.

I ushered her into the dressing room with assurances that it would all be over soon, then proceeded to collapse into a corner, head down in shame. It was one thing to fail on my own behalf. But I’d subjected my friend to florescent lit, ill-fitting madness with no pay-off, and that was infinitely worse.

“Oh, this is PERFECT,” said Krip. It wasn’t until I looked up and saw that dress on her – a short-sleeved, A-line number from Tahari by Arthur S. Levine – that I knew she wasn’t kidding. It WAS perfect. A smashing black satin/polka dot dress from the same line prompted an even more enthusiastic response from Krip; she looked uber hot!

I’d pulled a few dresses in the wrong size that Krip insisted on trying on anyway; as I zipped her into a too-tight, cranberry number, Krip attempted to talk the dress into fitting her. I chimed in; we realized we were trying to reason with an inanimate object; hysterics ensued.

We were actually having FUN on a shopping trip. OMFG!

In addition to the two Tahari by ASL dresses (around $70 each, reduced from $130 each), we snagged a red Kenneth Cole short-sleeved sweater ($59.97, reduced from $129). But the score of the day was a cashmere, herringbone, sleeveless shirtdress by Ralph Lauren – a timeless item coveted by many and worn by few.

Even so, we didn’t buy it because of its instant-classic status; we bought it because it looked fab on Krip. And it better have been 100% cashmere, because it was originally $760. We paid $199.99 – NBD. Krip’s stuff totaled around $408 – well within our previously established budget. At full retail price, she would have paid around $1,037 for the same four items, which would have been effing absurd.

Yes, Krip and I triumphed over Century 21 by getting what we came for, sticking to our budget and leaving before we lost our minds. But for me, what won the day was seeing Krip strut her stuff in the dressing room once we’d figured out what worked for her. I’d achieved something all too rare in the world of women’s apparel: I’d found clothing that made my friend feel as fabulous as she already is.

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