Getting ready to attend the IAEA ball last year was not fun. I was shocked by the prices of the dresses, seriously disappointed by the selection in my size and discouraged by the terrible customer service in the shops. After several weeks of frustration and failure, I decided to have a dress made . . . which ended up being more expensive and less satisfying than the other options would have been. My visions of feeling like an elegant princess, all fancied up for the ball, dissolved into a reality of having to convince myself that I would have a wonderful time regardless of what I was wearing. I did ultimately enjoy myself, but having to settle in terms of attire certainly detracted from the experience.
This year, I was better informed and more prepared. To start, I ordered a dress online from the US. When it arrived, which took longer than I expected, I was pleased — it fit relatively well and is at least as nice as the dresses I saw in most of the shops here (for 1/3 the price). I was still a bit daunted by the process of having the dress altered, though, particularly because of last year’s debacle. Dan asked around at work, but we didn’t come up with any resounding recommendations that were likely to have the dress finished in time for next weekend’s ball. One friend had some success at a department store, but it was far away, so I borrowed that idea and stopped by a department store (Peek & Cloppenburg on Karntnerstrasse) in the center of Vienna to ask if they would do the necessary alterations.
Success! They do alterations, even of clothes bought elsewhere, and they can have it done by Friday. I took it in on Saturday, and she seemed to know what she was doing (and spoke a little English, too). I don’t know yet how it will turn out, but I’m miles ahead of where I was this time last year. I’m feeling much more hopeful about my chances for a magical evening this time around.