I take pride in my unique sense of style. For me, the way I dress is not only a means of expressing my creativity; I also prefer to wear things no one else is wearing. This adds a layer of difficulty to shopping off the rack here on island for anything but the basics – shorts, maybe some tank tops, the occasional swimsuit, or wraps. However, as far as dresses are concerned – for social events or for what we here like to call “out clothes” – I generally prefer to have something made or at least altered. That said, once in a while I do walk into a store and fall in love with a mass-made piece of clothing. A few months ago, I did just that and was reminded of why I have my personal shopping rules in the first place.
One Friday night, while walking home from yoga with two of my friends, we decided to stop at our rock’s mall (yes, we have a mall!) to window shop. As I walked in-between the racks trying to find something I liked, my eyes fell upon a lovely grey dress – sleeveless, semi-long, and so beautiful. Just like that, I reconsidered my policy and thought that perhaps just this once, I might be willing to buy a dress off the rack here. With an almost childish anticipation, I called one of my friends over for a second opinion. She, too, fell in love with the dress immediately, and we proceeded to argue with one another for the rights to buy it. We obviously couldn’t both get the dress for fear that we’d one day show up accidentally dressed like twins at some function or another. It was the best dress in the store, and I wanted it desperately.
Our other friend wandered over, stopped, and joined in the negotiating. Surprise – she wanted the dress too. The moment brought me back to a poem I had learned almost fifteen years ago at school called, “Sophisticated Nassau Gyals”. It was a kind of parable about their shopping experiences on their own rock, one we had learned for an elocution competition. I knew the way this would go – I am no stranger to off the rack shopping on my rock – and a part of me wasn’t even sure I wanted to buy it anymore. I didn’t want to go through that, so we decided to just leave the dress for now.
But as these things go, I couldn’t get my mind off the dress. We continued on to our usual post-yoga hang out spot, Irie Bar, where we met up with our yoga instructor. Unable to focus on anything else, I started telling her about The Dress. Turns out, after confirming a few identifying details, she had also seen it and was already planning on buying it next week. She begged me not to get it too, and the excitement slowly drained from me as I realized what was going on.
This was obviously “Sophisticated Nassau Gyals – St Lucian Edition”. We all wanted the very same dress and, considering we belong to the same friendship circle, could very easily show up somewhere all wearing it at the same time. The only thing we could agree on was that the dress was so beautiful, at least one of us HAD to have it. It seemed we only had two fair options: we should either all get it and suffer the consequences, or we needed to make a rock, paper, scissors decision as to which one of us would be the sole owner of the dress.
Mid-argument, a group of youngsters walked in. They were a large, energetic group of guys and gals, talking, laughing, and prepping for their smoke session. As they strolled in, one by one, my jaw dropped and my friends fell silent. There was The Dress, our dress, on a girl walking toward our end of the room.
And just like that, we had our answer. Absolutely none of us would be buying the dress. I figured for that price, I might as well have something custom made by a local designer anyway, and sleep well knowing that I wouldn’t be showing up anywhere and landing myself in a “Sophisticated Nassau Gyals” situation.
Unique island gyals beware – shop on your rock with caution!
Want to stay connected to the Land of Coconuts?
We'll send you island mail, fresh from the tropics each week.