Monday, April 23, 2012

Devil and the Blue Dress

I just had a wrestle with the dress devil and I won. Sometimes I fall in love with a dress and that can be a pricey thing. Last September when Matt and I were in Germany, my friend Judith took me to Fryda*s, her favorite boutique in Weisbaden. I wrote about the thrill of trying on several Balenciaga dresses that all fit perfectly. Luckily enough, one was on sale at a great price, which I giddily bought and have worn several times. There was also this metallic blue dress. It wasn't on sale so I prudently did not bring it home with me. But this dress has stayed in my mind and imagination ever since.

Mr. Matt and I were just given two tickets to the San Francisco MOMA Post-Modern Party this Wednesday. My first question, what to wear? It's a hip, late night event, so I thought dressy but fun. This blue dress from Fryda*s came to mind. Would it still be there? How much would it be now? How would it get here? Should I even try to find out? I had to, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I emailed the shop's owner, Herr Mueller. He quickly replied that yes, he still had the dress and the price had been 2295, but now it was 700. I was thrilled that the dress was still there. But I did a quick euro to dollar conversion and that's $920 US! Plus goodness knows how much the shipping would be.

I took a day to respond to Herr Mueller. Just pretending to myself that this purchase was actually something I could consider. I even did a quick run through Neiman Marcus. Information gathering, I told myself. All the Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Marni dresses were over $2200. So the blue dress was a bargain! And I rationalized that in addition to the Post-Modern party, I could think of two more events to wear the dress, bringing the CPW (cost per wear) down to $300! I floated down the escalator imagining myself looking dazzling in the metallic blue (Balenciaga!) dress.

As soon as Neiman's revolving door landed me on the sidewalk with a blast of chilly SF wind, I realized I didn't want to part with that many scoots for one dress. I could buy three or more dresses at that price. But they wouldn't be Balenciaga! But before I could torture myself with any more back-and-forth thinking, I emailed Herr Mueller and said danke, but the dress would have to remain a dream.

I've decided to wear something I already have, an arty body-con Isabel de Pedro dress with my "I'm the boss of me" thigh-high Versace boots that Matt gave me several years ago.

Stay tuned for full reportage after Wednesday!

P.S. I was gratified to find an interesting scientific study related to my experience. In The Decisive Moment by Jonah Lehrer he writes, "But then came the price tag. When the experimental subject was exposed to the cost of the product, the insula and prefrontal cortex were activated. The insula produces aversive feelings and is triggered by things like nicotine withdrawal and pictures of people in pain. In general, we try to avoid anything that makes our insulas excited. This includes spending money. The prefrontal cortex was activated, scientists speculated, because this rational area was computing the numbers, trying to figure out if the product was actually a good deal. The prefrontal cortex got most excited during the experiment when the cost of the item on display was significantly lower than normal."

That's the problem with designer dresses, even on sale the price is painful!


  1. I can't wait to read about the event and the outfit. Sometimes a splurge just doesn't make sense - right? I try to splurge on items that I know will net a low CPW (as you say) - leather goods, jewelry, suits, outerwear and "statement" pieces for specific events. I look forward to the next post.

  2. Oh, what the heck, silence your insula, listen to your prefontal cortex and buy that dress from Herr Mueller--it's a bargain!