Shopping for My Someday DaughterJennifer Coulombe
I arrived at the Gap Kids store, located on one of Manhattan’s busiest intersections (34th Street and Broadway), first thing in the morning. I had called the store the night before to confirm the 7 am opening time, afraid that the entire Diane Von Furstenberg line would be sold out if I arrived a minute late. I was fully expecting and willing to be late for work that day, but surprisingly, I got in without a problem. As I searched through the adorable dresses and onesies all specially designed by my favorite fashion icon, I overheard a woman comment on an item she wanted to buy that wouldn’t fit her little girl for another two years. Oh lady, I thought to myself, if you only knew who I was shopping for!
I’ve never been pregnant and don’t have plans to have a child in the near future. I don’t even have a significant other. But there I was, checking out baby girl clothes sizes 0-3 months. As I shopped the mini leggings, dresses, and shoes, my mind wandered: What will she look like? Which dress will look best on her? Tears welled in my eyes, completely catching me off guard, as I envisioned this person yet to enter my life. Going through all the what-ifs and whens, my rational brain interrupted: What are you doing here, Jen?
My obsession with DVF began when I was 25 and working as a sales associate at a luxury department store in New York City. I never planned on working in retail — it’s certainly not what I went to journalism school for — but there I was, just another college grad with deflated dreams. Before then, I had a good job in beauty PR that I got right out of college. Everything had been going according to plan — until I was unexpectedly laid off. Fired. Canned. Whatever you want to call it. I, the girl who always overachieved, had failed at something.
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While many of my friends were advancing in their chosen careers, I was unsure where my life was going. Never one to see the glass half empty, however, I made the most out of the situation and worked my tail off. (A passion for fashion didn’t hurt either.) Within eight months on the job, I got promoted to a specialist position for DVF specifically. I went from being a sales associate on the floor to motivating a team of six to reach monthly sales goals and merchandising the brand in the store. And thanks to generous employee discounts and end-of-season sales, I accumulated a nice collection of DVF within a relatively short period of time. I got to know everything about the brand and the woman behind it. Diane’s effortless style, laidback confidence, and strong business acumen represent all the things I strive for in my life.
These days my career is still a work in progress, but with each new step I get closer to doing all the things I love, mixing style with marketing and even philanthropy. Next up: business school. I’m confident that I’m on the path to doing what I was always meant to. And though I no longer work in retail, I continue to live some of my best moments while wearing DVF.
That morning in the Gap, I settled on a pink, black, and white stone print mini wrap dress. It’s a print I immediately recognized because my favorite go-to dress is stunningly similar (I was wearing it that day!). A fear of the unknown still terrifies and frustrates me — the girl who always wants to be on the path to somewhere. Like many women in their 30s in New York City, I carry this unspoken anxiety that I’ll never find the right person and will never become a mother, especially when I see my friends from high school in other parts of the country having their second or third babies. But this dress signifies the hope and belief that a husband and kids will happen when it’s meant to, and not on my preferred timeline. I know by this point in my life that the path to getting what we want can’t possibly be clear. The natural career struggles and accomplishments I’ve faced as a single woman in a big city have allowed me to grow into the woman I’ve become today and have better prepared me for what the future hopefully holds: a loving husband and healthy, happy children.
Someday the moment will come when I will dress my daughter in her first wrap dress. Hopefully one day, she’ll understand all that it represents to her mother about never giving up.