Most of the time, my clients are happy folk, excited about the life change that’s the impetus of them coming to see me. Occasionally, though, my Spidey-Sense goes off, and I detect a sinister undercurrent that leaves me wondering how to handle things and remain professional about it.
Couple #1 didn’t initially set off any alarms. They were an “encore” couple getting married.
Both had spouses who had died, and both, as it turned out, were in their late seventies. They were having a casual get together with just their family, so the alterations weren’t the usual taxing affair. About a year later, they came to see me again to bring me several dresses that she was going to wear for a cruise. While she was changing, the husband told me of plans he had to get her plastic surgery. Apparently, she was to have lipo and a tummy tuck–at 80! I was appalled. After that comment, I watched him very closely as he told her what did and didn’t look good on the dresses. He even told me how to do my job. I was having serious heebie-jeebies by now.
I did the work, and they came back to try everything on. According to him, however, nothing I did was right. Not only did he bash me, but he also bashed her throughout the fitting. I got them both out of the studio as fast as I could. I completed the fixes on the dresses, but I neither wanted him back in my studio nor wanted to spark anything between them, so I merely texted her that the dresses were ready, that I wouldn’t be charging for them, that I only wanted her to come to the studio, and that I wouldn’t be servicing them ever again.
The pickup went without incident, but I still couldn’t help feeling like there was something seriously wrong about them.
The second couple was a guy in his late forties and what appeared to be a mail-order bride. He contacted me initially, but when they brought in the dress, I was not given her number even after I asked for it. Again, he nit-picked over her, the dress, and my pinning. Her English was good, but I could tell she hadn’t been in the U.S. for long. She was a waif of woman, perhaps ten years younger than he, and he was three times her size. I looked very carefully over what I could see of her body for bruises, but it seemed that, if they were there, they were hiding in places I couldn’t professionally broach.
When they came for the fitting, he was on the phone, and she arrived first. I could tell she was more comfortable without him there as she answered my questions about the dress with more confidence. Just as I was about to ask her if she was okay, he walked in the door, and she immediately shrank back into herself. She continued to visibly shrink throughout the fitting under his scrutiny, though she did smile readily when he complimented her.
Maybe I was reading too much into it, but I just couldn’t shake the dread when he was present.
The third incident was between a mother and her daughter. The bride came to see me by herself for the initial pinning, but the mother was there for the fitting. I’m not certain if she was present for the purchase of the gown, but she seemed more than surprised that it left her daughter’s arms uncovered.
Apparently, the daughter had a skin condition that rendered her arms unacceptable to view, according to the mother. Personally, I didn’t notice anything. It must have been a discoloration more than a rash of sorts. What really got to me was the tongue thrashing she gave her daughter over it. It escalated to the point that the bride dissolved in tears and I had to ask the mother to leave my studio.
I calmed the bride down, asked about the condition, and assured her that, since I didn’t even notice (being up close and personal to folks, you notice a lot), it was only something about which her mother was worried. The vindication came later when she sent me a pic from the wedding and the dress was exactly as she and I had altered it.
I realize that folks, myself included, have good and bad sides as well as good and bad days, and I still believe professionalism is warranted in all situations from all parties. When someone crosses the line, however, I won’t hesitate to protect myself or my clients.
Until next time, dear readers. May your bobbins be full and your seams straight!