A Coup in a Banana Republic

by Erin on February 19, 2006

Banana Republic DressI bought this dress the other day. For $17! Plus tax!

I don't usually go into Banana Republic — not because I don't like their clothes, I do! I just don't think of it; they're just not on my shopping radar. But I had a few minutes downtown after my dentist appointment the other day, and I ducked in to check out the sale racks.

Seriously, the only upside to the 28-day horror that is February is the omnipresent sale rack. Sure, they can be full of tired, raggedy, stained and shopworn items, but every once in a while you rescue something that was wrongfully overlooked.

I may not wear this dress as a dress — I'm not one for low-cut backs — but for $17 (plus tax) I can alter it into something that I have wanted for a while: a pleated dressy skirt. Pleating is enormously tedious; even worse than alteration. A new zipper (70), an hour or so of time, and I have a new fancy skirt. I'd wear it with a crisp white shirt (maybe one of the girls' white Peter-Pan collar uniform shirts I bought at Target — the only upside of the childhood obesity epidemic, in my heartless and self-centered opinion, is that the biggest girls' size is now a LOT bigger) and a fancy black cardigan, very Carolina Herrera, or maybe very simply with a black cashmere short-sleeve crewneck.

Of course, you may ask — do I NEED a new fancy skirt? Sadly, the answer would be a resounding NO. (Especially if you asked Mr. Dress A Day.) I have on hand, for sudden fancy parties (of which I go to very few; invitations may be sent to the email address on the right):

  • three ballgown-length fancy skirts: black silk (Lauren, $20 at Marshalls), pink taffeta (which I have only ever worn on Halloween, at the request of my son, who wanted me to be a fairy princess) and a curious green taffeta that goes with no color known to man (think Kryptonite, if there were a kind of Kryptonite that made Superman unable to accessorize), but which I cannot discard because it was $2 when the Esprit outlet store in San Francisco went out of business
  • tuxedo pants (silk-wool DKNY, $30 at Filene's, only ever worn to a drag-king show)
  • a turquoise silk 1960s hostess coat, made in Hong Kong (estate sale; I think it is terribly disappointed that I don't play mah-jongg)
  • a black heavy silk 1950s dress with velvet trim (eBay, I think, very cheap, in perfect condition with POCKETS)
  • a black, lightweight polished cotton, pintucked, full-skirted dress with a round collar and which fastens up the front with hooks and eyes finished with rhinestones (this is quite possibly my favorite dress in the world and feels fabulous on)
  • and a bronze satin and taffeta 1930s belted formal afternoon dress, with pockets and collar, and a TIE. The back of the skirt has a pleated insert, and it is astonishing. Not necessarily attractive — the whole effect is very "Young Margaret Dumont." I've worn it twice: once to give a talk (it was at the Smithsonian, I thought the dress would feel at home) and once to my brother's wedding in Boone, North Carolina (it was not so much at home there).

So. I didn't need it, certainly, but c'mon — $17? I do not have the strength of character needed to NOT buy it at that price. (In fact, once I realized I could blog about it with headline, I was sunk.) And after I grabbed mine, I told the two other women browsing the sale rack about it and had the gratification of seeing them BOTH grab one. If any of you get one too, let me know, okay?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: