Something happens to a girl when she walks into a Betsey Johnson shop. Take me, for instance. Now, although I am given to wearing heels no matter the occasion, I’m not really what you’d call a girly girl-just short. I pretty much live in denim and have no interest in rehabilitating my Catholic-school-caused case of Truck Driver Mouth. It’s not that I don’t have a girl card, I just choose not to flash it.

But Thursday evening, as I crossed the threshold of the new State Street-at-Carrillo monument to pink, I was transformed into a squealing pool of tulle-loving girlitude. I was at the store’s Breast Cancer Benefit event, in my professional capacity, of course, but couldn’t stop myself from shopping. This wasn’t the first time I’d been bitten by the Betsey bug. Every time I’m in New York, I wind up at the SoHo store; I swear her clothes exert some sort of magnetic pull on me. “Come on, Shannon,” they call, “Forget the Met; you need some polka-dots in your life : ” And usually, I end up taking said dots home with me-bank account be damned. The fact that a Betsey Johnson store now exists blocks from my home is nothing short of dangerous.

So, when store manager Jackie Fitzgerald suggested I play dress-up, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to concede. Willpower is not my strong suit, and Fitzgerald’s enthusiasm is contagious; she spoke of her love for Ms. Johnson-a mini Betsey biopic running in a continuous loop on the TV behind her-like a foodie speaks of Bourdain or a traveler speaks of Hemingway. And who could blame her? Betsey Johnson, herself a breast cancer survivor, remains as cool today as she ever was-somehow making the ultimate in feminine edgy, never ceasing to flatter the female curves that so often lead to nothing more than dressing room curses.

I pulled an armload of dresses and coats, and within minutes was shrouded in the pink-and-floral confines of the enormous dressing room. I stepped out in the first frock, and a salesgirl presented me a pair of to-die-for (Do you hear me? To die for!) four-inch plaid heels. I gasped. And so it went, dress after dress. And the shoes: Dear lord, the shoes.

The crowd grew; the salesgirls continued to fawn: offering jackets, shoes, accessories, and feedback with each ensemble, like your best girlfriend would at home, while you’re playing dress-up before a big date. And while I didn’t take any of those delicious duds home this time, I did spring for a National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund-benefiting raffle ticket: $10 for a shot at a Betsey-autographed tank top, which I didn’t win. But I left feeling proud of my willpower-and my girl card.


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