We have a winner. Emerald! She wrote:
“I’m entering for my mom. She has NEVER worn a fancy long dress, and with my wedding coming up in August, this would be such a thrill for her. At all fancy events she has worn knee length dresses, including at her wedding and every other person’s wedding she has ever been to. I think she has always thought a long dress is too fancy for her, but really she is a fancy beautiful lady who would rock this dress! As much as my wedding is my day, it is also a really important day for her, and I want her to be stunning!”
This morning I read all the comments again as I put together the contest spreadsheet. They are really something. I could have quoted 30 or 40, but I am forcing myself to choose just 4. If you have a little time, you should read them all.
Ann of blue hue wonderland: “My parents had just lost our farm during “the farm crisis” in the 70′s so they absolutely had no money for a dress or just about anything else. I loved sewing, a neighbor lady and my grandmother cobbled together an education on how to use the machine and I made a dress.”
RoseAG: “The experience cemented in me a “build it and they will come” attitude towards my wardrobe. If you wait until you have an event to get something to wear you’ll end up wearing a too-small polyester print dress on your dream date.”
Suzanne: “The dress ended the night in a Dublin workingman’s bar at 7am. I had such a wonderful time and felt do glamorous (and one really needs as much glamour as possible in a Dublin bar at 7am!)”
Siobhan: “I was 5’9″ and my date was about 5’2″. My dad left a box out on our front stoop so my date could kiss me goodnight.”
If you will indulge me, I have a little more to add.
I spent this last weekend with my mother. I am the oldest daughter of a woman whose style at 81 still astonishes me. Her memory is fading. Her kitchen has a little adjacent sitting room, where she and her husband sit and read the papers most day. And on the coffee table of that room sits this photo. I’ve posted it before.
I had it printed and framed as a Christmas present for her.
Your comments reminded me that my true first long dress was one my mother made. In 3rd grade I got to be Sleeping Beauty in the class play. I was not then, and was not until high school, a girl that boys liked. Even as a little girl this made me sad. My mother sewed me a satin dress, short-sleeved bodice, full skirt, decorated with silver glitter glue patterns. She choose the deep sky blue that is, to this day, the best possible color on me. Much of the glitter fell off in rehearsal but even young I sensed that the dress was more beautiful because you could tell it was made at home. Probably in the kitchen.
On the other hand, as my dad, Professor C. noted in his comment,
“For the “traditional lady pose,” don’t forget Sargent’s Mme. X. No picture in the background, a table not a sofa, but unforgettable.”
A High WASP archetype. Nowhere near a kitchen. Lady X, as she is called. I myself do not, now nor ever, manage cool elegance. In little black dresses I am happy, even a little bouncy. Not interestingly melancholy. So I substitute hard work, loyalty, and constant attempts to be of service, to create appeal. As Sturdy Gals do.
Your stories teach me so much. So much about how I feel about being a woman, and how and why I write about our clothes in the larger search for meaning and connection.
Emerald, I hope your mom loves the dress.