The race is on: Shopping with a twin sister

Imagine trying to find a picture of yourself that you like enough to publish. Now imagine having to compromise with your sister on this photo, thereby choosing a photo that will surpass the vanity of two sisters competing against one other. Welcome to the world of twinhood.

Have you noted our new photo for GTWoman’s editorial page in this new issue? It came with a fair amount of bluffing and negotiating.

The dresses
The dresses caused a lot of commotion. For once we showed up at a GTWoman luncheon looking, well, dressed up. Heads turned, comments ensued, theories unfolded. But it was simply that we went crazy one day in Macy’s. I had a 25-percent-off coupon and we needed something new.

Our last headshots were almost three years old. As we gazed at our then-wrinkle-free photos, we felt it was time to come clean. The only way to hide the extreme aging that was about to happen overnight in the new photo was to do it with a little camouflage. Enter my polka dot dress and Kerry’s sky blue number, complete with belts. Some sunglasses wouldn’t hurt either.

The shopping

The only thing harder than finding a dress for yourself is to find it one second before someone else with your identical size and style does.

When we shop together, there are a few unspoken rules. We calmly enter the store at a neck-n-neck slow gait. No one wants to get there first and be called out on being “pushy.” But neither one wants to get there last and get screwed. We walk with precision, side by side through the store, nearing the women’s department at an ever-faster pace.

Once we cross some magical line, we wordlessly split up and enter the department at opposite ends. We pretend to shop our end and plan to meet in the middle. But instead we speed-shop the whole damn section end-to-end in a fierce sweep to find any obvious selections before the other. As we see each other in passing, we murmur things like: “Only if you don’t like it!” and “No, you first!” as we clutch our finds under our arms, out of sight and most certainly out of reach.

The dressing room
Once in our private lair, we quickly do inventory of the million dresses we’ve picked out. To improve the odds, we’ve basically brought in every dress in the store. There is no way we can risk going back out to find more dresses. This will allow the other twin an opening because the ultimate rule is: Whoever gets it on first, gets it. The saying “possession is nine-tenths of the law” applies here with a deadly and steady hand.

Right away, there’s a quiet that comes over the dressing room as we both put on our favorite, hoping it’s not the same one going on over the head next door. We then whip open our dressing room door and holler at the other one to come see!
The only way to trump being the first one to get it on, is to be the first one outside of the dressing room viewing it in a three-way mirror.

The negotiating
There have been CEO boardrooms that have seen less negotiating than a Macy’s dressing room with twins.

And so it is, there’s always one dress that we both want. It’s a no-win situation. The one wearing it will feel guilty, and the one without it will have to insist she doesn’t want it. It’s an ugly business being a twin. Success for one means a belted, knee-length blow to the other.

The negotiating starts with these simple words: “If you don’t get it, I will.”
This puts the other sister into a tailspin. She hates the feeling that she must now buy the dress. Most importantly, she no longer wants it because she has been told to get it. By her sister.

This will lead to a full 20-minute debate about the dress, its pros and cons but never, not once, will the sister in possession take it off. There will be twirling and bending and gut-sucking. But in the end, the pressure is too much. The dress is ruined. Neither one will buy it.

The compromise
Finally, we’ll come up with two dresses. One for each of us that is different enough that the other one doesn’t threaten to buy it. A little salute to our individuality. Secretly we’ll both love the other’s dress but play it cool, not wanting to scare her off the purchase.

By then, we are both exhausted. We’ve managed to ransack an entire department front to back without killing each other. The sales staff now knows us by first name and agrees that anything we will buy at this point will look great, if only we will vacate the premises.

It’s easy to see why we only tackle this every three years, isn’t it?

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