Loyal followers of these Voyages en Rose may recall a post from a couple of weeks back wherein I got a little dressing and shopping therapy in after what had been an awfully, needfully drab month. I picked up a dress from Ann Taylor that I had had my eye on for some time. Its never quite so easy as that though, is it? Let me color it in for you here.
The dress, pictured at right had arrived in the shops in late August, and retailed at $150.00. Steep, entirely out of my league. My periodic emails from Ms. Taylor advised me that certain early autumn pieces including this pretty object of my desire had been discounted by 40%. Hmmmm, at $90.00 I felt my not inconsiderable powers of destructive rational kicking in, but successfully mastered those indulgent urges.
When I walked past the shop though and saw that there was a further storewide 40% off previously discounted merchandise, I was drawn, powerless really, into the shop for a little look-see. Flipping through a rack of dresses, not yet finding my intended, the sales assistant opened with “who are you shopping for today?”
“Me. Hey, I am sure you can help. I am looking for a particular dress I saw in one of your emails. It’s the animal print sheath..."
She became a little discombobulated, and started marching me towards a wall of shoes (nice ones mind you) that housed a couple of leopardy or zebra-y pumps.
“Well we have these …”
“No, no no. A dress. Leopard print. Sheath style. Very simple cut, couple of inches above the knee, you must know it...”
“O … yes of course … right over here…”
She deposited me at the correct rack, and then promptly vanished.
Now, admittedly, this shop is in a very suburban setting, and likely does not get too much trade with or exposure to cross dressers, but I really got the sense that the poor dear was just confused, off-put and generally unnerved by the sight of a guy openly buying a dress for himself. Just then, my phone rang, a crisis bell was rung, and I needed to stamp out a professional fire. So was my spree cut short and a now $60.00 beauty held still in captivity.
A couple of days later I was back, found the dress, walked it up to the register, and a different lovely lady made no inquiries that forced overly honest disclosures from me.
I wrote a note to Ann Taylors customer service people letting them know that I love the merchandise, that I am a cross dresser, and that I want to feel welcomed when shopping there. Would they mind outlining their policies vis a vis CD/TG shoppers for me? ... thank your very much, and etc.
Here is the reply in full (emphasis mine).
Thank you for your email and positive feedback surrounding our merchandise. We appreciate your loyalty to our brand. We welcome all clients in our environment, and do not specify or create any special shopping protocols for our cross-dressing, transgender or transvestite clients. Ann Taylor does not discriminate based on gender identity or expression. In order to provide a comfortable and non-disruptive shopping environment, Ann Taylor recommends that those clients who present themselves as female may enter and try on clothes in our wardrobing rooms. For clients who present themselves as male, they may purchase items and try them in the privacy of their homes. Our return practice is flexible enough to accommodate the needs of our guests.
I hope our response provided clarification. We look forward to your return visit to our stores.
The content of the message said more than I expected and its tone is, to me, fully consistent with the sophisticated aura of the whole operation. They won me, fully. I wanted to mention this to you because when sensitivity is displayed by a vendor, well we really should share the news. I encourage you to check out the merchandise by visiting them online here. If Ann fits into your style and budget spectrum, please go visit a shop near you. The clothes really are well made, timeless, and feminine. All of these traits are worth a few extra dollars every now and then. I have great expectations of completely professional welcomes in the future, and suspect that I simply found a sales assistant who was having a less than perfect day on my first visit.
O, and about the dress, I have never, even for a moment, wore any garment that made me feel nearly as desirable and beautiful as I do in this dress. I cannot wait for the right day to take her out for a test prowl. Perhaps I will wear it out to pick up the sexy grey suit. Yum.
How about you? Any terrific shopping and customer service experiences lately? Please name names here.
Happy dressing, shopping, corresponding and everything else.