Monday, May 11, 2015

My Best Dress

     With six children in our family, and me stuck irrevocably in the middle, most of my clothes as a child were hand-me-downs. With only one sister ahead of me, however, they were still in good shape when they came to me.

     When I was in fourth grade, the mother of one of the “rich” girls in church gave us a bag of clothes her daughter had outgrown. There was a red velvet jumper in the bag that fit me. I had dreamed of wearing patent leather shoes with heels that clicked on the floor like tap shoes when you walked in them. I had dreamed of wearing taffeta with layers of tulle that suspended the skirt in a perpetual twirl. But velvet was beyond imagining. Velvet was like fur and diamonds to a girl like me.

     Even so, it was a dress my grandmother made for me the year I was in kindergarten that I remember with the greatest fondness. It was a new dress that no one before me had even tried on. A one-of-a-kind dress made with me in mind. I felt invisible for most of my childhood, but that dress said: “There you are. I see you.” It was blue plaid with a full skirt, puffed sleeves and lace-trimmed bib. I wore it for that most auspicious of occasions in school: Picture Day. It was my best dress and I must have worn it to shreds because I don’t remember either of my younger sisters wearing it. That dress and the memory of it remain mine alone.


  1. what a pretty child you were with that saintly smile and curly golden locks - looking justly proud of your favourite dress. The one item of clothing I can remember from my childhood was a red swirly skirt appliqued with bunches of cherries - funny how these things stick in your mind isn't it.

  2. you look like a little irish lass... or maybe scottish! since it's a beautiful tartan.
    lovingly made by a grandmother who maybe suspected you needed your very own special dress. grandmothers tend to know things like that.
    i had a special dress too. when i was 7. i can still see it in my mind's eye.
    i'm glad... for some reason...
    that your little dress didn't get passed down.
    it was one of a kind. yours alone.

  3. That beautiful red hair! Glorious! I always wanted red hair.

    A sweet dress of plaid and lace, I think it must have given you confidence for picture day, just look at that self-contained smile.

    Feeling invisible is something a lot of women are feeling, it's being written about, even Jeanne Ray's book about it. I don't remember them saying that it begins in childhood but I know it does. And it takes a long time to realize you're not, if you're lucky.

    Yes, I remember that fur and diamonds feeling, yours was red velvet, mine was green velvet.

  4. You were a beautiful little girl, ( I love your red hair ! ) and a beautiful young woman. I remember always thinking you looked very much like Disney's Sleeping Beauty when I first knew you in high school.

    Not being a middle child I know I cannot appreciate how much a dress of your own that was not a hand-me-down meant to you, but this post gives me a glimpse.

    I have to say I agree with Dewena's comment, and although you must have felt invisible, for as long as I've known you I assure you you're not. You're loved and appreciated by many. ( Good grief, this is turning sappy so I am going to publish this comment right now ! )