Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ode to a Dress


Sometime during the summer of 1997, shortly after I returned from a nearly spur of the moment trip to Venezuela, and not long before I accidentally fell in love with the man I would end up marrying, I spent a sweaty, slow-moving Sunday afternoon at the J&J Flea Market where I stumbled across a vintage homemade lace-covered dress in the oddest shade of lemon-lime-green(ish).

It was love at first sight, though the ladies who sold it to me refused to budge on their price, and I ended up paying somewhere close to $25 for the dress, if I remember correctly.  A few months later, those same ladies gouged me out of $30 for a vintage hand-tooled red leather trench coat.  For many years, I referred to them as The Sharks for the amount of money they managed to talk me out of, but since I still wear both items 14 years later, and the cost-per-wearing is somewhere close to the negative numbers now, I might be close to letting go of this grudge...

The dress gets trotted out every Easter, almost without fail (save for the year I was toting around a 6-week-old nursling along with an extra 20 pounds of post-pregnancy blubber), and there is a certain amount of remembering exactly Who I Am when I wear that dress, one of the few items of clothing that has accompanied me to so many places, for so long, to weddings and parties, to graduations and to church; from being single to married to becoming a mother.  It has lasted through hair that has been pink, red, brown and blonde; hair that was cut into a pixie, and hair that is now nearly to my waist.

Sometimes the world just turns too fast, you know, and it is necessary to find a way to slow down the spin for a moment, to be the person you are right now, and still be the person you have always been.

{There is, of course, a little bit of consumer anarchy in wearing the same dress every single Easter, a holiday in which marketers have done such a spectacular job of convincing women and girls that they need an entire new outfit every year.  Such an absurd and insidious concept.}

I am always elated to zip myself into that lovely time-machine dress, to dig around in the closet to pick out the shoes I will wear with it this year, to feel the heaviness of the fabric and the sturdiness of the construction, and to twirl around in front of the mirror, feeling like a princess.

A princess in a slightly too-large-in-the-bodice, beginning-to-fade, chartreuse lace dress, who is thumbing her nose at consumerism, but a princess nonetheless.

4 comments:

Lauren said...

You look beautiful, Sarah! And I'm with you on the consumer anarchist response to Easter outfits--the dress I'm wearing today was $3.99 at a goodwill :) I miss you and can't wait to see you this summer! Hope you have a wonderful Easter! <3

Sarah Beam said...

I love that your dress was only $3.99. You are completely awesome, Lauren.

Jess said...

I luh-huv this post. And I LOVE to see you in this dress every year through your Easter pictures. It's one more throwback to times when moms would wear their "Easter dress", dresses that their children remembered because they themselves became tradition. When I went to my closet and pulled out my dress for today...which wasn't new, though I had fallen prey to the "I wish I could go buy a little something new to wear for Easter" temptation but ultimately didn't find anything...I actually thought of you and your beautiful dress, it's lovely tradition, and proudly put on my lovely years-old dress and wore it with joy.

Thanks for the anarchist's perspective. You know I love you.

Sarah Beam said...

Oh, Jessi, I love the thought that my kids might remember this silly dress as 'Mom's Easter Dress.' That hadn't occurred to me, but it makes me so stinking happy.