How badly do I want that dress?
In order to tell you this story I realise that I’ll have to confess something I don’t usually admit to anyone – not even to my dearest friends over a vat of wine. But, without knowing it, the story won’t really work, so here it is: For the first time in public [looks around, whispers furtively]:
I sometimes shop in Debenhams.
I have to just add at this point that I wouldn’t be seen dead in Debenhams in the UK but, somehow, here, among all the dross that we’re offered in the shops (you know, “new season” items that you saw on sale three years ago in the UK for a tenth the price), Debenhams is not bad.
And, for a busy mum with approximately 10 minutes to shop for the next decade’s clothes (and that with a child hanging off each belt loop), it does have some good ranges that cover every eventuality from park picnics and play dates to dinner at The Ivy.
So here’s the story.
I’m lounging in bed on Saturday morning for all of 10 minutes between about 8.10am and 8.20am, with a coffee and a copy of a fashion magazine. In the magazine, I see the stylist’s top picks for spring. You know, that sort of “if you buy one thing this season, it should be…” and usually it’s a £4,000 bag or a pair of “I can’t walk in these” shoes.
Well, this month, among the 10 things you should buy this month, was a turquoise, silk shirtdress with a neon belt and it burned itself onto my retinas I liked it so much.
The moment was broken, however, by the children crashing into the room demanding I get up and take them out for the day, which I duly did, magazine discarded on the duvet, turquoise dress forgotten.
Fast-forward a couple of hours and I’m pottering around Debenhams when I see the turquoise dress on a hanger. It’s part of Debenhams’ new /Edition range and it’s designed by Roksanda Ilincic. (Next to it are some gorgeous separates by Preen – I buy some of those, too, but this is not about those.)
I try on the dress and it looks A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The turquoise lights up my skin and the sheen on the silk gives the whole looks some sort of whooshy glow. For a woman over 40 living in a Muslim country, the skin coverage is ideal. Kudos to Roksanda Ilincic. The only problem is the size 10 I’ve tried on is a little snug, and they don’t have a 12.
Maybe it’ll work with my magic pants, I think to myself as I take it to the check-out. I love it too much to leave it in the shop. I’d rather not eat for a month than not buy this dress.
But I get it home and show DH. He’s stunned by the colour (possibly not in a good way, but then he’s used to me in neutrals) and he won’t really comment on the fit because he wants dinner that evening, so I wear it down to show Gerlie.
“It’s too tight, Madam,” she says matter-of-fact. “Your waist / top half is nice, but bum, thighs – ugh.” She makes a face like I’d asked her to eat still-warm dog pooh. “And see here, madam?” she says, flicking a button on the belly that appears to be stretching a little. “Too tight.”
And that was with the magic pants.
So I decide to call up all the other branches of Debenhams in Dubai and ask if they have it in stock in my size. Hell, finding out where to go would save about 300kms on mileage and a full tank of petrol.
But, if you live in Dubai, you can imagine the phone conversations I had over the next hour. Despite having the stock number and description of the dress to hand, every single store, from Ibn Battuta to Dubai Mall claimed they didn’t stock the /Edition line, had never heard of Roksanda Ilincic and didn’t have a turquoise dress on that stock number.
I was ready to cry. I wanted that dress so badly. I looked it up online, and was about to order it to be shipped here by rocket ship from the MOON when thought I’d give Dubai one more chance.
So today I went down to Mall of the Emirates in person, to see whether or not they had the dress. Within seconds of entering the shop, I found the /Edition line with more stock than you could stuff an Audi Q7 with. My dress was not only there, but they had multiples in every size – plus a few more treats from Preen.
I tried on the 12. It fitted like it was made for me. I exchanged the teensy 10 for the roomy 12. I have the dress of the season. Now I just need somewhere to wear it.
For a while there, I forgot I was a just a housewife.