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.