Monday, March 30, 2009

The Blue Dress

I have this wonderfully feminine, swirling blue cotton dress with fun puffy sleeves and a wide sash at the waist. The circle skirt is ankle-length and so full that it almost doubles as a wrap. It's one of those dresses that past experience makes you hold tightly to when outside on a windy day.

Honestly, I LOVE the dress, but I rarely ever wear it anywhere, because it just seems so flouncy and ... um, maybe like something more fitting for a four year old to wear to a party or something. But, I indulge at home from time to time. Like today. I knew I'd be home all day studying and catching up on paperwork, so I gleefully put the blue dress on. I would enjoy it today, even if most people think it's weird or it looks like it belongs in a prairie movie instead of real life!

But then I forgot what I was wearing and ran to town to do a couple of errands for the family.
I realized a little too late to go back that I was in... the blue dress. Too late to change now. I glanced around my car - no sweater to at least cover up the radically huge sleeves (as my sisters put it)! So, I ran into the grocery store and quickly grabbed the needed items and rushed back out. A few odd looks, but it was almost empty in there at noon... thankfully!

Next stop was the Post Office to mail a couple of packages. As I was standing in line at the counter feeling quite self-conscious, the elderly man behind me (one of the well-known businessmen in town) nodded at me approvingly and smiled, "Oh, my! That's one of the most gorgeous dresses I've ever seen in my life! I've just been standing here, staring at it! It's so... it's so.. uh, impressive!"

I chuckled and thanked him and hurried back to the parking lot.

After laughing about my embarrassment at being caught in the blue dress and then getting complimented, I thought of something.

I don't think any woman has ever commented on the blue dress when I've worn it, except to agree with me that they would be embarrassed to wear the thing in public.
I don't think a guy under 60 or 70 has ever commented. But there's something about the blue dress that seems to impress old guys, especially ones who are always seen dressed up or looking like they stepped out of Ben Silver's Fine Shirting catalog!

Another conversation came to mind from a few months ago.
Again, that day I hadn't thought I would be going anywhere so I had been enjoying wearing the blue dress again. But at a moments notice, I had needed to drop everything and take Mom somewhere.

On the way back, we had stopped by an elderly couple's house to drop off a few things. I used to work for them, and they're always complaining that I never come see them enough... So I went inside for a moment, feeling a bit awkward in my swirling blue dress on a regular Thursday afternoon. After all, this lady buys her clothes at Neiman Marcus! I've never seen her in anything that isn't completely fashion coordinated. Her wall is covered in pictures of her in ball gowns next to various governmental officials over the years. And her husband has two closets about 12 feet long each, full of designer clothing. He would never wear anything less than a Ralph Lauren polo, even to plant tomatoes in his back yard.

In the midst of my conversation with her, her husband walked in, back from golfing. He stopped short of where I was sitting and his jaw dropped. "Whaa? Where did you get that dress?!?!"

I blushed and told him. My sister [Elisabeth] made it. I don't normally wear it very often because it looks so... out of place and way too flouncy for an adult to wear! But I just happened to be wearing it at home today... and then I ended up here!

"You don't wear it very often?! You should! Why don't you?!?"

Again, caught off guard, I tried to explain that even though I love this kind of dress, I felt kind of weird pushing a cart around the grocery story with my skirts swirling about!

He just kept shaking his head. "But it's nicer that any other dress I've seen in my life. It's just... incredible. You should wear it every day! Don't ever let anybody tell you it looks odd in today's society. It's simply overstated elegance and the best taste anyone can have in clothing! Somebody has to set the trends!"

After today's conversation and a couple in between the two I've mentioned here, I'm wondering what it is about the blue dress? Maybe it reminds elderly men of a by-gone era? Maybe they wish ladies still wore swirling dresses with a handful of petticoats underneath?

Hmmm.... So, should I wear the flouncy, swirling blue cotton dress and tie the enormous sash in a bow before when I go to town and look like I need a flower behind my ear and high lace-up prairie boots?

Or should I continue to just enjoy it around the house, where everyone knows how much I like it, in spite of it's overstated elegance? :)

I'm not quite sure.
I guess I'll wear it when I want to, even though most of my girlfriends and sisters will snicker! :)

Update: At your request, here's a picture. Thanks to Ruth for humoring me and running outside to take a couple shots of my dear blue dress.


Peachtree said...

Hey, where's the picture of you in it!?!? I wanna see it too!

Laurel said...

The dress and its wearer are beautiful! For the record, Jonathan and I both think it's simply elegant... not overstated. :-) We think you should wear it whenever you feel like it.

Laurel said...

Jonathan says you need to wear it sometime when you know you'll see us so that we can know for sure. :-)

Peachtree said...

I agree with Laurel! It's certainly old-fashioned, but doesn't make me think of a four year old at all!

Lovely picture too!

Jessica said...

"Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty it was--a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves--they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon. . ."

"I don't see how I'm going to eat breakfast," said Anne rapturously. "Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment. I'd rather feast my eyes on that dress. I'm so glad that puffed sleeves are still fashionable. It did seem to me that I'd never get over it if they went out before I had a dress with them. I'd never have felt quite satisfied, you see. . ."

"Oh, I was so nervous, Diana. When Mr. Allan called out my name I really cannot tell how I ever got up on that platform. I felt as if a million eyes were looking at me and through me, and for one dreadful moment I was sure I couldn't begin at all. Then I thought of my lovely puffed sleeves and took courage. I knew that I must live up to those sleeves, Diana."

So there you have it in the words of Anne Shirley. Live up to your sleeves, Mary. ;)

Tammy said...

I think the dress is beautiful! :)

Rachel said...

Mary, the dress is beautiful and definitely feminine.... but from one 'sister' to another, I think you are far more beatiful! (Both on the inside and the outside.) Continue to let your beautiful spirit shine through- you're a blessing to all of us!♥

Mary said...

Thank you all for your sweet comments and compliments! I really just posted the story of my blue dress after laughing so hard over what old men have said about it... not because I needed affirmation! But thank you anyway! :)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful dress! And, YES you should happily wear it in public. It likely catches the attention of others because it is so unusual to see someone dressed in such a pretty dress.

Sadly, you could go to the grocery store in worn out yoga pants and your hair all uncombed and no one would ever look twice. It's nice to be noticed for something good!



Heather-In Christ Alone said...

That is gorgeous! I have ALWAYS wanted a dress like that, no kidding! I always wanted a swirly, flowing dress. So there you go, don't worry if people laugh. I'll have to get my sister to make me one!

Rachel said...

Yep, wear the dress whenever you feel like it. (I often "dress up" a little to go grocery shopping!)
Our society needs more women who feel confident in their femininity!