My Blog

March 31, 2015

Country Mouse Shopping

Had to share my country mouse experience in the big city of Houston. Terrifying!

A sweet, kind friend, Mary Anthony Startz invited me to join her for an afternoon tea for the Daughter’s of the American Revolution in downtown Houston, white gloves required for the receiving line. I’ve spoken to the group before so I know the members are mostly wealthy River Oaks socialite matrons, dressed to the nines.

I was fearful of not being appropriately dressed so I asked a friend for advice on where to shop—and was told Saks and Nordstrom’s in the Galleria area of Houston. Never been there and terrified of going.

Called Nordstrom’s and made an appointment with a “Personal Stylist” for Saturday morning at 10:30 am, certain that would give me enough time to find something by 2 pm. Dressed and feeling very much like a country mouse,  launched out for Houston.

After horrible, slow, bumper-to-bumper traffic, finally found a parking garage outside of Neiman Marcus, a dark, multi-level parking structure with cars roaming like barracudas for parking spots. The parking gods were with me and someone backed out just as I got there. Hallelujah!

Nordstrom’s, of course, was at the far, far distant end of the monster mall– got my exercise for the day–in heels – hurrying – since the traffic had made me late. Arrived to find Candice, my personal stylist, waiting with not one, but two fitting rooms full of clothes to try on. Candice is a cheerful, 30ish, quite hefty African-American girl in flounced, tight-fitting black dress. I felt a little like Scarlett with the maid tugging at the corset strings.

Okay, trying on clothes is WORK! I mean, hard, sweaty, hair-mussing, fast-paced, psychologically draining and emotionally traumatizing WORK!

Outfit after outfit after outfit. Mirrors on three walls helped remind me that I need to get back to exercising but at least Candice was NOT one of those tall, svelte, model-thin creatures that I’m always sure are silently sneering at me and feeling all superior as they go off to hunt up a larger and still larger size of skirt or pants. It made me feel better to hear someone in the dressing room next door doing the same.

Clock was ticking on towards twelve-thirty when I finally settled on a pair of black slacks, black satin top and a simple white and black weave jacket–don’t ask me what brand.. Of course jacket and slacks needed to be hemmed. Candice called in the alteration girl who said she could have it done in an hour.

No white gloves anywhere to be had. Candice suggested David’s Bridal down the road on 610. Another hike down the mile-long-length of the mall and actually found my car again without having to punch the alarm button.

Dared to give up my parking spot and drove down to David’s where Saturday chaos reigned. Lines of girls, their mothers and their friends for proms, weddings and balls, all waiting to check out. Sold out of gloves.

Raced back to the Galleria, this time thinking to find a closer parking spot. Missed again and ended up in another cave-like parking garage, on the opposite side. Again, the parking gods found me a spot.

More, faster hiking to get back to Nordstrom’s. Leaped into the outfit. A quick stop at some cheapy store to get some nice, fake jewelry that looked pretty dang good and off to the DAR tea.

I was already late, but the home where the tea was being held was nearby. Blessings on Candice, she figured out how to set the map app on my new cell phone so, with Siri’s guidance, I arrived at a McMansion in a golf-course community. Valet parking by a bunch of — of course — Mexican kids so I left my ancient–but still serviceable Honda mini-van with the BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus, Lincolns and Cadillacs.

Seems you don’t have to arrive at a tea on time. The girls sitting outside at the reception table had my name tag ready, and blessings on them, loaned me a pair of white gloves. I proceeded down the receiving line shaking the white-gloved hands of the DAR president, the Board members and fifty new DAR members.

My outfit was perfect. Looked elegant but discrete, and fitted right in. What a relief! Blessed Mary Anthony rescued me and introduced me to several very delightful friends of hers. Now, they want me to join.

Does that mean more trips to Nordstrom’s?  But I now have a Personal Stylist, so it’s all good!



Just for fun
About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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