The Beauty of Milestones

Hayden has experienced a tremendous number of milestones lately.  She’s looking at colleges, she has her learner’s permit and is driving, she’s studying for her SATs, and very soon she will attend her junior prom.  Her father and I have everything we can do to keep up, to enjoy this time with her in the moment, because we understand that these are fleeting Poloroids of her life that will develop into sweet memories more quickly than the flick of the wrist, and right before our eyes.

We began shopping for her prom dress this weekend.  I understood this was going to be a long process of searching boutique after boutique for the exact fit between her perfect dress and our perfect budget, so this was to be nothing more than our inaugural trip, a fun exploration of styles she preferred.  We had zero expectation that we would find a dress on our first time out, we simply planned to enjoy the day, try on a thousand dresses, and then come home to regroup and think about what she liked and what she didn’t like so that we could refine our search on the next trip.  There was no pressure.

The first dress she picked out, the very first dress she loved was six hundred and eighty five dollars.  I’ll give you a moment to re-read that a couple of times to make sure you are seeing it correctly.  I’ll wait.  Take your time.  You are seeing it correctly.

It was not a great start for me.  It absolutely broke my heart to see her pull that dress down, all smiles, and have to tell her she couldn’t even try it on because it was simply too far out of our budget.  She handled it gracefully, like the almost grown-up she is becoming, but I felt horrible.

We rebounded quickly though, and soon there was a line of dresses waiting for her to try on.  When she walked out of the dressing room wearing this first dress, my knees buckled. IMG_4772 I couldn’t believe how beautiful (and grown up) she looked.  The navy blue was great for her coloring, and the waist made her suddenly curvy in all the right places.

She was happy with it, excited, I think, mostly to be trying something on, finally.  She liked the color, but it was obviously not the one.  And, honestly, how could it be?  It was the first dress she put on.

She took the next dress off the hook and disappeared back into the dressing room where she remained for a long, long time, until I peeked my head in the curtain to see what was happening, and discovered she couldn’t figure out how to get it off.  She didn’t realize there was a zipper on the side.  How she got it on, I’ll never figure out, but she needed just a little help getting it off, and I was more than happy to be participating.

As a prom dress shopping mom, standing on the outside of the curtain seems as nerve wracking as standing inside the dressing room trying the dresses on.  I could see her movement behind that curtain, and I understood she needed privacy–not only for her modesty, but in order to take a few minutes to see herself in each dress before presenting them to me (and, essentially, the other mom’s waiting for their own daughters)–but, I so wanted to be in there with her, helping her put the dresses on, seeing her initial reactions.

IMG_4774She was much happier when she opened the curtain wearing this dress.  Her face was bright and she was smiling in a new way.  She loved the dress, and I did, too.  It, too, was navy and it looked very regal.  She wanted to talk about how she would wear her hair, and what sort of jewelry she would need to go with this one, and that told me she was really happy with it.  It was a total upgrade from the first one.

{The pictures, all taken inside the dressing room because we were not sure we were allowed to take them, don’t do any of these dresses justice, but most especially this one.  It truly was a spectacular dress}

It was a little out of our price range, but not horribly so, and the boutique owner offered us a price adjustment because it needed more alteration than simply shortening.  We put the dress aside to hold.



The next dress was very pretty, but she wasn’t crazy about the color or the plunge between the boobs (thank goodness), so it was never a contender.

As a nice surprise, however, this dress was actually very similar to that firstly mentioned, outrageously priced, dress so it made us both feel better to think maybe she wouldn’t have actually liked that one anyway.


After several more dresses, she was in love with and wanted the second one, the navy with the high neck, but she wasn’t giving me that sense of absolute certainty.  The boutique owner had the dress hanging off to the side waiting for her while no fewer than four other girls had asked to try it on, so we understood if we didn’t purchase the dress it truly would sell quickly.  But, I knew she wasn’t sure, that she was feeling a little overwhelmed, and I was not prepared to purchase a dress that didn’t have, for her, that “wow” factor.

{Aside:  the dress totally had that “wow” factor for me, she was gorgeous in it.  But, she was gorgeous in a lot of dresses.  She had to be happy in it.}

With a slight pit in my stomach, (almost) completely believing we would be back, I put down a non-refundable, store credit only, deposit on the dress to hold it, and we went to another shop where she found this dress:


I wish there was a photo of the back of this dress because even though it, too, was beautiful, it had a major construction flaw and stuck out strangely at the bottom of the zipper which just happened to be on her behind.  I thought it was as simple as the lining bunching up, and attempted to fix it, but it was clearly the zipper jutting out in such a manner that, even though I am no seamstress, I knew would be a monster repair–assuming it could be repaired at all.

Luckily, she was not in love with this dress anyway.

Trying it on, however, and driving the extra miles, did accomplish two things: 1. She realized she couldn’t get the navy dress out of her mind, and 2. She realized she was not as uncomfortable with strapless as she had originally believed.

We went back to the original store to look at the strapless dresses she had previously rejected.  Or to purchase the navy dress.  Or to walk away overwhelmed and confused.  One of those.  I’m not sure which.

She tried on several more dresses, and then she walked out of the dressing room wearing this, and I knew, immediately, by her face (because I wasn’t even looking at the dresses any more, I was looking at her and her reaction to the dresses) that this was the one.  IMG_4781That she had found her “wow” factor.  That she felt as gorgeous and as sassy and as spectacular as she looked.  That we were not turning back.  That we would be purchasing a dress that day.

Of course, the dress she loves had the worst of all the pics we took, but there will be many more.

The dress is jeweled on the top and coral in color on the bottom.  It has a tiny train which we may or may not remove in alterations.  You can’t tell by the way her hands are in the picture, but it’s not strapless, it has jeweled spaghetti straps that have to be shortened slightly to tighten everything up.

And, yes, I made her raise her arms, and bend forward, and make all those dance type moves to be certain the top was secure, and it is.  The dress has a high slit on the side, but Hayden was the first to say that needs to be lowered, so we pinned it and there is plenty of material to lower the slit, so we are on the same page there as well.

The dress is beautiful, and almost exactly at the high end of our budget.  The girl is gorgeous, and happy, and so are the parents.

Now all we need are shoes, and a clutch, and under garments, and jewelry, and nail polish…



2 thoughts on “The Beauty of Milestones

  1. Mom says:

    I love the dress she chose. The color is gorgeous but that doesn’t matter cause she is beautiful in everything! Good going, Hayden.

  2. Aunt Lindy says:

    I love the dress, too. Looks beautiful on you. I can’t wait to see the pictures with your hair done, etc. have a wonderful time, pretty girl.

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