Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Dress is a Sort of Homecoming

A rose may be a rose is a rose and by any other name it might still smell as sweet. I concur that may always be a truism for most objects but I take exception with a dress. Any girl will tell you most times a dress is a dress but there are definite times when a dress is not a dress. They will even tell you that on those occasions, that a dress that is a dress by any other label, color or design; the fit might not be so sweet.

I hate to make broad sweeping generalizations about gender but I think if you asked 10 women at least 9 of them could find at least one occasion in their life when a dress was not just a dress. For most, my guess is, that the occasion when the dress was not just a dress was for some dance or their wedding. And for a small number of  us, there are too many occasions for when a dress is never just a dress.  For some of us, a dress is not just a dress ever. It is tied to our identity of who we want to be in particular moment in time.

I don't mean to toss women from the feminism bus nor is this meant to be a treatise on the virtue of a dress but if nothing else I do love a dress. Always have. Ask my mother. We have had many not so fun nor logical but nonetheless extremely passionate arguments over dresses. When I was very little, it was often about flying in the face of good sense of what dress not to wear. Like for example, a sundress in sub freezing February weather. Or when I was a teenager, the inappropriateness of cut--too short for a school function  . . . always the poster child for prosti-tot fashions!  And later, over the cost, I am NOT spending that on a dress you will wear for 7 hours  . .  if I could have worn it longer I would have!

And then there is my sister. . .

 Make no mistake. She loves dresses too. She had to have not one but two dresses for her wedding. (By the way, Mom, I can't believe I got flack for my dress when Pookie only wore hers for an hour. At least I got 7 hours of wear out of mine! )

My sister, though a dress lover, has always been of the mindset of, "how can I change this and make it my own?" I am more of the mindset of why mess with perfection, but to each their own.  .  .

So I will admit that a few years ago when she cut up my 9th grade homecoming dress and redesigned it into a witch costume I was a bit upset. Not that I had plans to wear it for some upcoming formal occasion, but, you never know . . . And since she is my sister she rolled her eyes and said,  "I only made it better."

If you can get pass  the piece de resistance eau du Clariol Mist that is my hair, please see the dress in all its glory in my pre  homecoming dance pictures.

I clearly remember shopping with my mother  and picking this dress out at Rich's. I couldn't believe she let me have it.

I mean it was black, strapless with a corset style bodice and it had iridescent green polka dots all over and layers upon layers of fluffy black tulle.  

My high school colors were green, black and white. (Go Hornets!)

It was school spirit in a dress!!! 


 In retrospect,  knowing my mother, she probably only agreed to buy it and let me wear it because she thought it was so ridiculous and ugly.

 Okay, I don't know who colored on my face (since photos in my parents house are so pristinely preserved and stored in drawers and boxes) but here I am with my date  posing in front of our pet goats  That black and white one was mine and her name was Stella.  She was the cutest goat ever! Our malamute Bandit killed her though. The other goats were victims of the Great Goat Massacre of 1998 when two wild dogs took out ours and our neighbors' goats. Yes, on the street where I grew up, everyone use to have pet goats. I think is was some sort status symbol. Either that or  it was a cheap labor option because everyone was too lazy or too cheap pay someone to cut their large grassy lots. 

At any rate, we were not the weird people who had goats. We were the weird people but for different reasons than having goats as pets. I can't get into all those reasons right now--too long for one little blog post. And this post is about a dress.

I wish I had a picture but I do not. Maybe she has one and will send it to me and I can post it but my cousin Kathy borrowed this dress  and wore it when her band Black Francis  (Pixies cover band) played at the 40 Watt on Halloween one year in the 90's. I think that was probably the first time it occurred to me that this dress would also make a great Halloween costume.

Of course, for many years I didn't visit that because really, with that tea length-- it just wasn't slutty enough to be a proper woman's Halloween costume. That is until I decided I needed an "appropriate" costume to actually walk around the neighborhood and trick or treat with my kids. It is just weird to dress slutty in front of your kids. I am not saying I haven't done it but I admit, it is a little off.

So here I am, revisiting the dress in 2007 on Halloween with Carmella and Livi. See that look Carmella is giving me? I think my mom  was making that same look in 1986 when I picked this dress out, only I didn't notice it--so blinded by the awesomeness of the most perfect Homecoming dress ever.

And here is Pookie, I think in 2009, after she re-designed it into the most perfect witch costume ever! 

Okay. She was right. It is much cuter now. If nothing else because it isn't that awful "tea length" anymore.

And now, in  October of 2012,  almost exactly to the day or at least the week some 26 years later, Carmella was invited to a party that we realized last minute she was suppose to wear a costume. So after some of my awesome seamstress alterations (call me!) I had the dress yet again redesigned to fit my tiny 11 year old daughter.
 She won most fashionable costume at the party. I knew what I was doing when I picked this dress out! I just had it picked out for the wrong occasion.

She of course, (as I do)  has her own ideas about fashion. Personally, I would have made some other choices (sweater?! converse?!)- but in good form, she is making the dress her own. 

 She did let me free hand draw a spider web and spider on her face. Carmella is pretty conservative (unlike her mother) so that was a big risk for her. 

Maybe it is true that a rose is a rose is a rose and therefore a dress is a dress is a dress. But sometimes, sometimes it is something so much more than just a dress. So Daddies and Mommies, when your daughter begs you to let her have that special dress and you balk at the price, at the ridiculousness of it, don't. You never know. You could be making a real investment here. An investment that is more than just fabric and her immediate happiness. That dress could be a great source of joy (and laughter) for many years to come that you revisit time after time.  

You just never know what something is until it becomes something else entirely.

PS. Happy Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy to see it was such a wise investment. The dress that goes on and on..... who knew! Just please, no chopping up the wedding dresses for costumes (Pookie has already mentioned it)