Falling In Love With A Dress

Prêt-a-porter. Though I wear factory made clothing like the majority of the world. This was a new term to me. This is this month’s theme for Living Out Loud. This month Genie would like us to talk about a piece of clothing that has special meaning to us.

Long before I was ready to get married, even before I’d even fallen in love with a guy, I fell in love with a dress. It was THE dress. The one I was destined to be married in. Well, at least a replica or something similar.

I watched a movie with Lindsay Wagner called “The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan”. I think it had something to do with her character trying on this old fashioned wedding dress and being transported in time. I can’t remember the exact premise of the movie, but I do remember the dress fairly well.

I’ve always said that I was born in the wrong era. I like things from long ago. I like simple elegance. This looked like a dress that maybe my grandmother would have worn. I knew girls who had their mother or grandmother’s wedding gowns handed down to them. There was no dress to be handed down to me, so it became my dream to have this dress to hand down to my own daughter or granddaughter. Sorry, I’m a sucker for tradition. The vision of the dress from that movie remained in my mind and especially in my heart.

When I did fall in love and accepted my proposal, my mother and I went dress shopping. I was paying for my own dress, and I’d saved exactly $385 in my account. We scanned every rack throughout the store. My mother knew exactly what I wanted, but we couldn’t find it. I had almost settled on a similar dress but in tea length when my mother pulled me to a basement bargain, and there it was. My dress. We’d found it. Of course, the sales lady tried to talk me out of it, and said that they’d never have it fitted in time. She and the other lady rolled their eyes at each other because who in their right mind would try to plan a wedding in one month’s time unless of course…and no I wasn’t. I was just in love. Well, I tried on the dress. Guess what. A perfect fit! No alterations needed! The price? It was originally $1200 marked down to $365. You have to realize that in 1982, that was a lot of money, or at least it was for me.

This is THE dress!

I bought the dress. I got married. Eventually, I had kids. Two boys. Don’t think my wedding dress is ever going to be worn again. Even, if I someday have granddaughter, I don’t foresee her wearing it because I really don’t think it will ever be fashionable again.

And then there’s the biggest problem of all. The condition of the dress itself. I did not have the foresight or the common sense to have my dress cleaned and properly stored. About ten or fifteen years after I’d been married I retrieved it from my parent’s home. It had been in a closet next to an oil furnace. The dress has stains, smoke damage, across the beaded bodice. I didn’t bother to have it cleaned because there is an even bigger problem. The skirt was folded and had been chewed through like four layers by mice! Yes, it has a paperdoll pattern of mice chomps across the skirt. It only affected one panel which could actually be replaced. My dilemma is trying to decide if I want to spend the money to repair something that will be packed away forever or should I donate it to someone who could fix it. But what would they use it for? Then I’ve thought of all the crafting (and art quilting) I could do with those beads, the lovely satin, mushroom pleats, and lace. I haven’t the heart to cut it up, even if the rats beat me to it!

42 thoughts on “Falling In Love With A Dress

  1. I am like you and I love old things. Most of my jewelry is from antique stores. There is something about the craftsmanship of times of yore that cannot be reproduced today (too expensive.) That is why I love the building I work in. It was constructed in 1915..all marble and amazing deteails…historic. My wedding dress was new, however, it was the first one I saw in a magazine and I knew that it was destined to be mine. My mother would not accept this and forced me to shop all day long and try on other ones. Of course I ended up buying the one of my heart’s desire. I have always loved it, but like you never had it properly stored or cleaned. I do have a daughter but I don’t think it suits her taste. It still sits in my mom’s closet and I haven’t looked at it for years. Now I feel like I want to see it after reading your post. By the way…you looked lovely in your dress!!!

  2. Reading your post, I was thinking of your quilting and wondering if there would be a way to salvage parts of your dress and celebrate it with a quilt – but of course you had thought of that already. 🙂

    I loved looking at your wedding photo: you look beautiful!

    • Kristen, Thank you. Yes, I have thought of it, but I haven’t the heart to cut it unless I could be positive the quilt would turn out perfectly, and I am not that confident of my abilities.

  3. Oh! I love this post! I love the picture, too. You are both so cute, and in THE dress! Also…random…but maybe you don’t have to fix the whole dress? My friend had a similar problem, and she ended up taking her wedding dress, childrens’ blessing gowns, and other clothing that meant something, and she made a big quilt. It sounds weird, but it turned out really pretty!

  4. Isn’t that the greatest thing? I think it is awesome when you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the dress you were married in.

    I can understand it having been chewed on and still not wanting to cut it up. When the time is right your heart will tell you what to do with it. And you won’t have any doubt . . . just like you didn’t have doubt in your dress or who would be your hubby!

  5. As hard as it will be to cut into that fabric, I still vote for the quilt or something else crafty that would showcase the fabric in a special way. Its story is too sweet to have it not be put to special use in the present!

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  8. What a special memory of shopping with your mother for your wedding dress and finding just the right one! I went with D-Man (my stepson) to find my dress and realized after I bought it that I cheated my mother out of something every mother looks foward to. I felt so bad…

  9. Glad you got such a great deal on a lovely dress. I got mine for $300, marked down from $800 I think. I could never see spending more than that even for “the dress.”

    Sorry about the mice! I have a vision in my mind of how destroyed the dress must have looked, but still, I wouldn’t have the heart to pick it apart either. Better the mice did!

  10. I remember that movie and loved it too! My wedding dress cost $100 from Leggett. It had big white “roses” all over it. I married a guy from high school, divorced, pawned the rings to pay for my first LA move, and donated the dress to a thrift store (the one in that old train building off VB Blvd … it is probably still there!). It is fun to plan our wedding and dress and so special that you were able to get the one you dreamed of. Keep the dress, use it in your art. You will cherish it forever and be glad you did, and your sons will be able to keep it too, though they will never wear it.

  11. My first real fancy dress looked a lot like your wedding dress, just shorter. The top is almost exactly the same and I think it would have been about that same year – 1982 or 1983. I wore my dress to my cousin’s wedding with pantyhose. I was 11 and felt so very grown up. I thought I looked like a bride, and now I realize that I did. In reality, I was a flat-chested, short-haired awkward 11 year old in a fancy dress, but In my mind’s eye, I looked just like you. 🙂

  12. Suzicate,I remember the day you wore that dress. You made that dress look beautiful. I have seen 3 members of your family in weddings,all were beautiful. I remember your sister in her wedding dress. She made me cry. I think you had the same effect on Dirtman. We are a blessed family. Thanks for taking of your sister this week. Dwight

    • It was my pleasure having my sister here. I loved every minute of it. And thank you. I well remember how beautiful Peggy was in her dress and you were quite the dashing and handsome groom.

  13. Cool. My wedding dress shopping experience was sort of the opposite — I had no idea what I wanted but I kept saying ‘no sequins’. After I’d looked for a while the saleswoman said ‘well okay, but you seem to really like all the ones with sequins’. In the end I was spangled like a Christmas tree. Hey, it was a once in a lifetime thing, right?

  14. Love the story behind your beautiful wedding dress – and love the photo! Mice really have no sense of decorum, do they? 😉 One day you’ll just know what you need to do with the dress…and whatever it is, I bet it’s phenomenal! 🙂

  15. I loved my dress, though it wasn’t what I really wanted. It cost me $100 from a historic reproduction store (late Victorian). The great thing was, my maid of honor’s dress was cut exactly the same, but in burgundy velvet. The dress I wanted was about $3000. I can still have it in my wildest dreams, though!

    Love your dress, BTW. It looks a lot like the one my mom wore, except she went for the “southern belle” style.

  16. Making a quilt out of it sounds like a fabulous way to perserve it. You might not get to pass down the dress, but a lovely wedding quilt would be a nice wedding present to hand down.

    I never went with the traditional white wedding dress. I bought a nice dress for $80, it was exactly what I wanted. One week before our wedding I found the perfect dress for $20.

  17. You said you didn’t have the heart to cut it up, so I say that you leave it like it is. It tells it’s own story. 🙂

  18. This makes me want to go home, take my dress out (nearly eight years later), and get the darn thing cleaned and pressed.

  19. Pingback: To Have And To Hold « The Water Witch's Daughter

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