Skip to Content

Formal Dress Shopping – a Mom’s Worst Nightmare


That moment when your little girl becomes a woman – and you want to run screaming from the room. Teri Biebel lived it when her daughter bought a dress for homecoming. Read more from Teri on her blog, Snarkfest.


I love 17. I truly do. And I trust her to make good choices as she grows. She’s a great kid, she’s smart, she’s funny as hell, she’s drop dead gorgeous and to paraphrase her favorite boy band, One Delusion (or something like that) she doesn’t know she’s beautiful. Here’s where I wait for her to read and correct me.

Formal Dress Shopping - a Mom's Worst Nightmare

Anyway, that being said, a few years ago (when she was 15), she went formal dress shopping with two girlfriends for Homecoming. I had plans with the moms in my ‘hood, and her dad was working, so one of the girls’ moms took them out to the mall. 15 had said that this mom would be fine with paying for a dress for 15 if I wanted her to, and I could just pay her back. While it was a really nice and very generous offer, I politely declined, telling 15 that if she did find a dress, put it aside or ask them to hold it and I would take her back up Saturday and buy it. OR she could take her own birthday money and use it to buy a dress. She took her money and off they went.

Fast forward to about 8:00 that night. I was well into a bottle of wine, having fun with the moms, playing Pokeno and enjoying a moms night out. 15 sent me a picture text, but nothing came through. I texted her back and she said “Did you see it?” Seeing nothing but a big white screen on my phone I texted back that I didn’t see it. So she called me and told me that she had tried on this ‘really pretty cream colored dress and it was only $34 and she could buy it herself and it was really pretty and can I get it?’ After a little more discussion, and knowing that it would save me the trouble of driving up the next day to buy it, I agreed. She of course gave me the standard: “Thank you! I love you, mommy!” spiel and hung up. Several minutes later, the picture came through. I nearly died.

While I do have a foul mouth at times, I’m not a big proponent of posting pictures of scantily clad women on my blog. And ESPECIALLY not pictures of those to whom I’ve given birth. So you can imagine my shock and awe when I saw that this dress looked like, in my husband’s words: a scrunchy. It WAS in fact cream colored, flesh colored to be more precise. Strapless. Form fitting (read: TIGHT) and about 6 inches too short. This was the conversation, verbatim that I had with 15 after the picture came through and I had sufficiently lost my mind:

Me: Did you already buy it?

4 seconds go by without a reply


15: Yes I did

Me: Save the receipt, don’t dare take the tags off!!!

I got home from moms night out and when I went into 15’s room she was already asleep. I looked at the dress hanging innocently in her closet and threw up. This thing looked like an ace bandage, only smaller. If I let her wear this dress this year, next year’s dress would very likely be down to bandaids on her nips and possibly a fig leaf (optional, I’m sure) Do you know WHY this dress was only $34 at Macy’s? Because even the hookers knew it was too small and too tight.

Don’t go getting all up in my grill about my comparison of my 15 year old to a hooker, because that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying her choice of homecoming dresses just needed some guidance. When I asked if her friend’s mom had seen the dress, she replied that no, the mom had not.

Saturday, 15 had an away cross country meet and then we had a houseful of kids Saturday evening, so I never actually got to talk with her about her clothing choices. However, Sunday morning, we discussed it. Or more accurately, I asked her to put the dress on so that I could see it in person. Maybe the picture didn’t do it justice. Maybe it looked better on her in person. Maybe my dogs would develop the ability to calculate nuclear physics too.

When she came downstairs with this dress on, my jaw hit the floor. Yes, she’s drop dead gorgeous. Yes, she has a great figure. But NO way in HELL was she wearing this rubber band to Homecoming. So I explained in my most soothing, caring, loving mom voice that she is a beautiful girl but that dress sends the wrong message. I know she’s a decent kid, I know she’s got morals and isn’t loose or trampy, but that dress says otherwise. Yes, all of her friends know her and know she’s not a tramp but what about those who DON’T know her? Will they be quick to judge? And while I do teach my kids that it doesn’t matter what others think of you, as long as you know in your heart that you’re a good person, I had to be a hypocrite this one time and rule a big HELL NO to this particular item of clothing. Sue me.

So Sunday afternoon, 15, her bestie M, hubby and I headed back up to Macy’s to return the scrunchy. We then went to every single store in the mall in search of a more appropriate dress for homecoming. And we came up completely empty handed. Deb, Charlotte Russe, Penney’s, you name it we searched it and found nothing that 15 liked. Leaving the mall, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, and I’m thinking, great now she’s going to have to wear last year’s dress again and she’ll be in therapy for years and write a tell-all book about what a rotten and judgemental mother I am. But there was one option, and while I wasn’t IN LOVE with it, it WAS an option.

David’s Bridal. There was one right across from the mall and I thought, other than an assload of cash, what have we got to lose by taking a look. Our lovely bridal shopping consultant, Fey, picked a bunch of pretty dresses for 15 to try on. And BAM! After an hour and 10 minutes and 42 dresses, we had a winner. It is a really gorgeous royal blue, somewhat form-fitting but not hookerish dress. The price was marked down from $99 to $59. Okay I can live with $59. Except that it was a scad too loose at the top and 15’s girls would be making surprise appearances all night if we didn’t get it altered. So Fey took us back to alterations where we met the lovely Michelle, who was sweet and kind and told us that the alterations would be $50, PLUS $15 because of the extra material that had to be cut off the top of the dress. Oh and PLUS $25 because it was a rush job (alterations usually allow for 2 weeks, we only had one week, so BAM, another $25). I must admit that the dress is beautiful, 15 is a knock out in it, and it covers more of her body than the damn paper towel that we returned to Macy’s, so I said ‘Okay, let’s do it’ which got the standard “Thank you mommy, I love you” from 15.

Last surprise. When we finally made it to the register to pay, Michelle rang up the alterations ($90) and when she scanned the price tag for the dress, it came up $29 NOT $59. BONUS! So the alterations were 3 times the price of the dress. But the dress, all told, came to $127, and to me, that’s well worth the cost of having 15’s girls and her hoo haa covered up.

Teri Biebel

Teri is a working mom of two teenage daughters. She is a writer, a ranter, a fan-girl and has a huge crush on Mike Rowe. You can find her at the blog Snarkfest.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle PlusYouTube

Read previous post:
travel, italy, boat, couple
10 Steps Every Midlife Woman Should Take Before Traveling Abroad

Over 40 or 50 and Traveling Overseas? So you’ve planned your big trip abroad. You’ve purchased your plane tickets and...