Thursday, July 9, 2009

Once Upon a Time, Sarah Took Dan to an Expensive Men's Clothing Store and There Was This Girl...

There aren't many options in little Burlington, Vermont for purchasing fancy men's clothes.

There are even fewer options for men with freakishly long arms and legs.

The good thing is, my husband-to-be would look adorable wearing a paper bag, so I was confident that we would be able to find something wonderful for him to wear to our wedding.

There was no way on Earth I was going to get him into a suit, a tie, stiff shoes, or anything resembling a tuxedo. And seeing as how we'd taken to telling our guests that the dress-code for our wedding is "garden party," a nice linen shirt and well-made linen slacks seemed appropriate attire for the blushing groom.

One gray Saturday morning in April, we decided that this was the day we were going to buy Dan's wedding clothes.

The conversation over breakfast, as we prepared for our shopping expedition:

"Now honey, you know you're probably going to have to try on a lot of clothes before we find just the right thing. You know that, right?"

"Uh huh." Sip of coffee, bite of toast.

"Well, let's start at Michael Kehoe. It's a pretty expensive store, but the clothes will be beautiful. Maybe we can find something you like and then try to find it cheaper elsewhere. We can also try Macy's and The Men's Warehouse."

"Uh huh." Sip of coffee, bite of toast.

"Are you still thinking that you want to go with the linen?"

"Uh huh." Sip of coffee, bite of toast.

"What about your feet? We can get you some new Birkenstocks. This is Vermont, after all. Birks would look nice and summery with the linen slacks, don't you think?"

"Uh huh." Sip of coffee, bite of toast, swipe of napkin.

I braced myself for a long day.

The people at Michael Kehoe know how to sell clothes. The lighting is soft, but not dim. There are just enough pieces of clothing out to offer a decent selection, but not so many as to be overwhelming. The sales-people are friendly and helpful without being overbearing. The temperature is a dry 71 degrees; just right for trying on clothes without getting a chill. The big mirrors are on the outside of the dressing rooms so that the gentlemen can bask in the glow of compliments as they show off their new duds.

Let me take a moment to tell you what happens when Sarah and Dan go shopping for Dan. Sarah gets right to work flipping through racks of clothes while Dan wanders aimlessly about the store, dreaming of Carhartts and t-shirts.

Michael Kehoe had a lot of linen out that day. This wasn't JC Penney linen, either. This was luxurious, Italian linen with disclaimers on rustic looking recycled paper labels proclaiming that due to the extravagant nature of the handmade fabric, variations in texture and color shade are normal.

I pulled a pair of sand-colored, flat front linen slacks from a hook on the wall. Dan moseyed over.

"We're never going to be able to find my size here."

Cue the sales-person. We were holding a piece of clothing and talking about it.

She walked out from behind the sales-counter with her game-face on: kind eyes, a small, genuine smile and a slightly furrowed brow.

"Can I help you find something?"

Dan stopped examining the pants and looked at the sales-woman. I looked at Dan. It was clear that this woman was probably Michael Kehoe's best sales-person.

She was about 25 years old with long, perfectly flat, silky brown hair. She was tall, thin, and wore a pair of $200 jeans and rich brown knee-high riding boots.

She was stunning.

I spoke first.

"We're getting married in a few months and we're looking for an outfit for my sweetie here. We thought maybe linen?" I gestured toward the pants in Dan's hands.

Dan spoke next.

"But I have freakishly long arms and legs and I have a hard time finding my size in regular clothing stores." He flapped his arms to demonstrate their gangliness.

Riding Boots Girl sprung into action. She extracted the pants from Dan's grasp and looked him up and down, sizing him up.

"These will fit you just fine."

She then sauntered over to a collection of linen shirts in saturated shades of blue with names like azure, cerulean, persian, indigo, and cornflower. She plucked one from the rack and pointed Dan toward the changing rooms.

Dan was in the changing room for about 45 seconds and came out wearing the pants, but not the shirt.

The pants made Dan's butt look really good.

"Those are great, honey. Can you try on the shirt?"

He started to put the azure shirt on over his t-shirt.

"No babe, do it for real. Can you put it on without the t-shirt?"

Dan headed back into the changing room and I looked at Riding Boots Girl. We both chuckled.

Dan emerged from that changing room looking gorgeous.

Riding Boots Girl winked at Dan.

"That shirt is incredible on you. It really makes your eyes pop."

That was it for my Hunk. He batted his eyelashes, blushed a little and proclaimed that he'd take it.

I piped up.

"Wait. Do you want to look in a couple of other places first? This is the first store we've been to."

Riding Boots Girl offered to hold the outfit for us for a few hours while we shopped around. We headed over to Macy's and Dan half-heartedly perused the men's section.

"I'm not going to be able to find anything as nice as that first outfit." He frowned.

Twenty minutes later we were back at Michael Kehoe, but Riding Boots Girl was on her break. We pointed to the linen shirt and pants hanging behind the sales counter and an overly clean-cut young man rang us up.

I heard a gasp and looked at Dan, who was starting at the price tag on the eye-popping azure shirt. He nudged me. I looked. The shirt cost more than my wedding dress.

"You're worth it, Hon. You deserve it. And besides, it's not like a wedding dress. You can wear this shirt on a million other occasions. We should get it."

And so we did.

We're getting married in 9 days.

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