Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fancy Dress

I wore my shiny green jacket on Saturday night. It went over my strapless, black, Lili Sami dress, the one with the built in stays.  I didn't need to be covered up for any reason other than the weather; the bridesmaids wore strapless grey dresses and didn't seem to feel out of place in the wintry temps.

That jacket came from Cache in the 1990's.  It was on the sale rack.  I had ten holiday party invitations and I didn't have ten outfits; that jacket improved dresses and palazzo pants and made the same thing look just a little bit different.  I moved it to Arizona knowing it would serve the same purpose here; it just took seven years and a trip to Illinois to prove that I was right.

I have a hard time clearing fancy clothes from my closet.  As I went through Little Cuter's storage boxes in search of baby items to send her way, I found a long peach gown and a long burgundy gown hanging in the back corner of her closet.  I remembered how beautiful she looked in those dresses as I realized that her older, maternal self will no longer be comfortable in clothing that fit her teenage body.

No matter.  The dresses are still hanging there, waiting for something.... I don't know what.

I'm not able to be any more ruthless with my own garments.  I bought a long. black-with-tiny-bright-yellow-flowers cotton number in Washington, D.C. in 1973. It smiled at me from the window of the boutique next door to the Blimpies where I made sandwiches that summer, tempting me, taunting me, torturing me.  I begged an advance on my salary and put down a deposit; it was my first and only experience with lay-away. The store manager allowed me to visit my dress every day, and I did so with lust in my heart.  Collecting the final payment in my hands, I exchanged the dollars for the dress and wore it that same night to Sans Souci, the fanciest restaurant in town.

We saw all kinds of political and media celebrities that night, but I knew that I was the most gorgeous woman in the room. There was no doubt.

Fancy clothes have that power.  Watching the bride walk down the aisle last Saturday night, it was easy to see her smile reflected in the beading on her dress.  She was a little princess, a dressed-up doll, a character starring in her own personal movie. The dress moved down the white satin walkway, carrying her along with it. She was BRIDE.  The outfit told us so. There was such joy in her expression; she was at one with the moment.  I have no doubt that the dress was a big part of what made it so.

I found a another long black dress, this one a slinky jersey, off one shoulder, with tiny glass sparklies semi-tastefully decorating the neckline. Purchased for a business holiday extravaganza, it caught the Cuters off guard.  I looked special, grown up, almost too fancy.  Without my jeans and tee shirt, they were flummoxed.  Who was I?  Would I return to normal in the morning?

I never worried about that; I always knew that fancy dress clothes were costumes I draped over the normal, more casual, me. Although I like putting them on once they have found their way to my closet, I hate the shopping and the accessorizing and the discomfort that goes along with heels and hose and drippy jewelry.

I didn't have to worry about sore feet last weekend; I don't even try to wear heels any more. I'm proud of the progress I've made while wearing sneakers and flats; there's no reason to topple over while trying to balance on stilettos. And topple over I surely would, as I proved to myself in my closet while trying on the beautiful but currently unwearable Bally heels to which I treated myself in Marin at the end of the last century. My patent and leather black flats with the discreet rubber soles looked just fine, and I didn't worry about falling down and making a scene.

Fancy dress and comfort - it's not an oxymoron.  Little Cuter's J Crew wedding dress, the one with the pockets, proved that to be true.  She wore Tom's on her feet, and she was gorgeous and bridal and comfortable all at the same time.

There's a lesson here. I hope Flapjack learns it early.


  1. Save the dress for a granddaughter someday. I did my daughter's and her daughter got it also some straight wool skirts that turns out are back in style-- they were originally mine, then my daughter's now my granddaughter's. Good fabric and classic styles either last or return. My daughter told hers to take good care of them and maybe someday her daughter would wear them ;)

    1. I have a plaid kilt I'm saving for a granddaughter, and now I will no longer feel awkward about saving the gowns, either. Thanks, Rain!

  2. Gowns in the back of the closet that I will never fit into again? Yes. From my junior and senior high school proms (1960s) and two bridesmaids' dresses(1970s) and a long white velvet wedding skirt with lace flowers hand-appliqued on it (1988). Each seam is lined with lace - no raw edges. The zippers are set in on one side so the zippers don't show and tiny hand stitches hold down the zipper edging. Each hem includes some type of liner to hold the skirts out, built-in matching slips, and a tiny weight to hold everything straight. Matching clutches made of leftover gown material and little jackets. Memories of going to Fabricland with my mother to pick out the fabric and her consulting with the salespeople. Each gown sewn just for me by my mother.

    1. OK so those are perfect.... and the memories... I can still feel myself standing in front of the mirror, turning slowly so that my grandmother could pin my hems. She, too, covered the seams (with binding, not lace, being a practical person) and inset the zippers and left no loose threads or uneven stitches.

      No one sews that way anymore... at least, no one I know.

  3. Conserve clothes for any granddaughter at some point. Used to do my personal little girl's as well as the woman's child first got it additionally a few directly made of woll dresses which works out tend to be in style-- these were initially my own, after that my personal little girl's right now my personal granddaughter's. Great material as well as traditional designs possibly final or even come back. My personal child informed hers to consider excellent care of these and perhaps at some point the woman's child has on all of them.

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