Like many of you I’ve been away taking my summer vacation and trying to hang on to the last bits of summer while I still can. School starts on Monday for one of my kids so we’re focused on back to school prep around here. This year that includes shopping for cotillion attire for my two oldest kids.
My fourteen year old son was easy to shop for. Dress pants, check. Dress shirt, check, check. Ties, belt and dress shoes. Done. My eleven year old daughter, on the other hand, is a different story. Maybe you have a daughter with a closet full of dresses at home. Lucky you. That isn’t the case at my house. And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But with cotillion coming up, I knew we had to spend some time making sure we had appropriate attire so we can avoid the last minute scramble to come up with an outfit on the afternoon of the first class.
I read and reread all the requirements:
- knee length dress or skirt
- conservative styling — nothing off the shoulder
- dress shoes suitable for dancing
We set out one evening this week to go dress shopping. The whole experience brought back memories of clothes shopping with my own mother. Not necessarily the most positive memories. Believe it or not there was a time when I refused to wear dresses. Like at all. I remember other little girls asking me why I never wore dresses. Well, take a look at this blog, things change.
My daughter’s sentiments about wearing a dress are no different than how I felt at eleven. And our struggles while shopping were much the same. Nothing too cutesy. She’s not a little girl anymore. Nothing too mature either. Eleven is an innocent age and I want to hang on to that as long as I can. She dared to step into the juniors section. While juniors dresses might work for some of her counterparts, she’s petite and everything in that section was just too big. I did my best to present some suitable choices but short of a jumpsuit or a denim dress (both of which didn’t meet cotillion requirements) our shopping trip was a bust. I won’t say which one of us ended the night with tears streaming down her face.
The next morning a comment my daughter made during our shopping trip was stuck in my head. She was adamant that all the best dresses are in the women’s section. And then it hit me. She’s just looking for a dress that captures the sophistication that she wants to express at eleven. The challenge was set. I set out to find a selection of dresses that captures the sophistication that might appeal to a ‘tween girl while still maintaining the innocence that her mother is trying to hold onto.
For the record, this proved to be tougher to find than I anticipated. For a dress to make the cut, it had to be (A) the type of dress I would pick out and wear myself. So no to dresses with haphazardly placed pre-formed bows. Blech. No to multiflora patterns. Blech. Blech. (B) the dress had to be below the $50 price range. I know there’s a limited shelf-life to these dresses and I don’t want to spend more than that (which is already too much, in my opinion). (C) While I realize that cotillion attire is meant to be formal, I don’t think that it means a girl’s dress needs to be stuffy. The dress should reflect the modern sensibility of the girl who is wearing it. Girls who are as comfortable taking on boys on a sports field and who are able to let their dance partner lead them in the fox trot.
Here’s what I came up with.
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Happy shopping my fellow cotillion moms!
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Colleen Yushchak says
I love this post. I did the same thing last year — three shopping trips, 10 different stores — came up empty handed. Junior and women didn’t fit — but kids didn’t really either and was too childish. I ended up buying a bunch of dresses online from Dillard’s! They had an amazing selection! Good luck to all of those with girls in that “between” stage — it really does only last a year or two — but it is rough!!
Sapna Delacourt says
Thanks for reading, Colleen! I found the selection at Dillard’s and Lord and Taylor to be the best of any store. I also found that there are certain brands that “got it” more than others.