While purging my closet last weekend, taking advantage of an extra two days off for the Fourth of July, I came across a garbage bag stuffed to bursting. Always in plain sight, the bag was wedged right in the very center of the closet, beneath the dresses, on top of the shoe rack, but I never registered its presence until now. Sure, it hid my favorite strappy sandals, but I could always push the light weight of it aside like a giant balloon.
Pulling it out, for the first time I considered getting rid of it. It took up prime space in the closet, adding to clutter already verging on wilderness. Would I ever wear it again? Did it even fit? No, of course not, I shook my head.
I reasoned with myself, sure most girls (truthfully, women) my age had long gotten rid of their prom dresses without a second thought aside from momentary nostalgia.
However, I conceded, my dress, with its voluminous petticoat, requires more consideration than the average ensemble from Macy’s.
It was not fashionable. I had picked the pattern from a retro Vogue collection at the local fabric store. Full satiny skirt with luxuriously abundant petticoat, tight, strapless bodice – it didn’t fit the au-courant princess styles or sleek modern sheaths other girls wore. It was Grace Kelly – except in bright teal.
This alone was not what made it special, though.
I remember her hands, slightly knobby knuckles, pearly pink nails deftly sticking me with pins as she fitted the bodice tighter through the waist at my behest. She refitted it several times for me, each time remarking in her unapologetic way, “I’ve never made something with boning in the bodice.”
“It’s okay, Grandma. I could never sew anything this beautiful,” I told her each time. It was true. So many separate panels of satin, such smooth, unforgiving fabric. I’d have made a snaggly mess of it within ten minutes.
She of course had to get it just right – the length, the bust (which always had to be taken in), the hips (which always had to be taken out).
Finally, she brought it over to my house sheathed in a plastic garment bag, the petticoat lodged separately into a garbage bag. She had even made a clutch with the scraps, embroidering it with beads. We had to have the whole thing dry-cleaned to remove the lingering odor of cigarettes, which I always associated with my grandmother but didn’t want as my prom fragrance.
It was gorgeous. It fit perfectly. It made my pasty skin seem luminescent. I transformed from an unruly teenager into a lady just by donning such a dress.
I was so very lucky.
Fingering the stiff tulle, I wondered, could I maybe keep the dress and get rid of the petticoat?
I stuffed it back in the middle of the closet, under the dresses, over the shoes. Maybe next year.
– – –
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Well- you have to keep it! Absolutely you must. You will treasure it always because it was from your grandmother.
You’ll figure out how to honor the memory even if you don’t keep the entire dress. Maybe a portion of the dress in a frame along with photos of you wearing it and your grandmother?
Pam Huggins recently posted…RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
I know! I keep thinking of ways I can save space but still keep the dress, lol.
never get rid of that dress!
icescreammama recently posted…Jumping in… one toe at a time
Okay. Because you told me. 😉
I know. How could I possibly?
wow, that was a handmade dress? Amazing… saw you at huff post but it wouldn’t take my comment…sorry …wanted you to know it was an awesome piece of writing and inspirational.
Thank you, Zoe! And yes, my grandmother was a very talented seamstress.
Oh, darling, you just made me cry. I wish I could compose myself enough to leave a meaningful comment, but just know that… This… this is real. You evoke emotion. You and your talent are going places.
Also, keep the dress.
Oh wow, your comment provoked the same response in me. Thank you so very much.
I think I will. Every time I think about letting it go for practical reasons, the other, less practical part of me protests louder.
which we chose to decorate in sequins! I still have mine too 😉
I still have mine! LOL same deal: vintage vogue, boning in the bodice, and an internal corset to boot! Stitched with love by my mama, I can never ever get rid of it… and hope that maybe one day, I can pass it on. Just looking at the red satin, all full of glamour– it’s a treasure. One day, we will encounter a generation who’s never had any clothing handmade, and it will be priceless. Maybe, vaccuum pack it, and save the space? 😉
I forgot that yours was handmade, too! That is so amazing. The red satin…so decadent!
You have an excellent point – hardly anyone will have handmade clothing as the years progress. You’re right. I have to keep it.
That boot was epic. It MADE the dress. 😉
Yes, you do need to keep it because your Grandma made it! This is a lovely tribute to her. I got rid of my prom dress – finally – not too long ago. It was pink taffeta and I looked like one of those crocheted toilet paper roll cover dolls. *shudders* 😉
Linda Roy recently posted…Twisted Mixtape: The ’80s Part 2
Thanks you, Linda!
So, wait…like Pretty and Pink pink? I’m trying to get a visual… 😉
Haha – Pretty and Pink – I see what you did there!:) Think cake topper…Cinderella…
Linda Roy recently posted…Can I Get An Amen?
that cynking feeling
Oh, such a tough choice. I like the earlier suggestion of finding some way to keep a portion of the dress if you don’t have room for the whole thing.
that cynking feeling recently posted…Please don’t cheer for my son
Yeah, I’ve even thought about just shadowboxing pieces of it with the photo…
Gorgeous dress and gorgeous memory! What a lovely tribute to your grandmother, and a wonderful thing for her to so painstakingly give you. Not just the dress, but her time and the love that went into it.
Misty recently posted…Two Anniversaries
I know, right now I just couldn’t fathom getting rid of it, it reminds me so vividly of her…
Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson
Love this sooooo much. You have such a talent for poignant last lines. So glad to have met you at Yeah Write! 😉
Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson recently posted…When Flying Was Fun
Thank you, and likewise. 🙂
Samantha Brinn Merel
I LOVE the dress! I think you should keep it. Some memories are made to stay hanging in the closet, and I think this is a really special one.
Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…The Years Go By And What I Read
I like the idea of memories hanging in the closet… 🙂 It is a pretty amazing dress.
Natalie DeYoung recently posted…Homemade Vogue
I’ll post a pic – you are not alone
Dianne, that’s priceless! What a great dress! 🙂
Alexa (Kat Biggie)
Funny – just last night I was out with some friends and we were talking about the fact that some of us still have our prom dresses – and we graduated in the 90s!! We’re also having a wedding dress party in two weeks. Whether they fit or not.
Alexa (Kat Biggie) recently posted…Tiny Has Moves
Yes!! I love this dress-solidarity! And are we talking early nineties? I bet those are some pretty amazing threads. 😉
Mary @ A Teachable Mom
Don’t you dare get rid of that gorgeous dress! You look beautiful and your grandma was extraordinarily talented! What a sweet memory and heirloom. And a great last line!
Mary @ A Teachable Mom recently posted…Falling In Love With Boys
I know, I don’t think I ever realized just how talented until I wore the finished product. She was an amazing woman.
I’m going to agree, keep the dress. It’s so beautiful and what a fun picture you have from your prom!!
Michelle Longo recently posted…Common Ground.
It was pretty fabulous…:)
How sweet. I agree. You must keep it always.
Marcy recently posted…I Bust a Move on Dance Central a/k/a Cartoons Pity Me in My Basement
From a man’s perspective, I get it, but I don’t get it. Then I remember the curled maple wood mini world flag holder my grandpa made for me. I don’t collect world flags anymore…they’ve long since fallen apart…but that long piece of beautiful maple wood; so hard to get rid of, even though it holds no practical purpose anymore.
I also agree with Rev. Dr.
Chris Plumb recently posted…What I’ve Learned in 1 Year of Blogging
Yes, exactly. This is my curled maple wood mini world flag holder. 😉
Guys don’t have such attachments to clothes, not this one anyway. Just don’t ask me to give away my stuffed dog, Sparky.
Joe recently posted…Excuse Me Miss, Are You Ovulating?
Keep it! Keep it! (That’s an order!) What a beautiful dress and a lovely memory.
Blogging Bibliophile recently posted…Forget the Sandman, I Need Boulder Guy
Okay, okay! 😉 Promise.
I love that picture and somehow i already know that you will keep that dress so I don’t have to throw my KEEP IT into the mix 🙂
Shanique recently posted…I am not my past
Haha, yeah, guess you already know me pretty well… 😉
Your dress is so incredibly special!! Don’t get rid of any part of it! Plus, it’s gorgeous, and speaks to our time. Girls just don’t do prom right anymore.
Ericamos recently posted…Why Free Clinics Are Free
No, they don’t, Erica! When my younger sister went to prom last year, it was fashionable for all the girls to wear SHORT DRESSES. It looked like cocktail hour at a skeezy bar. I wept for their generation.
Except for my sister, of course, the epitome of taste (she gets it from me).
You have to keep that dress, exactly as it is. Maybe have it vacuum packed,as one commenter has already suggested–but getting rid of such a treasure would be really bad karma! What a lovely thing to have…
deborah quinn recently posted…mixer, memento: finding roots in a rootless life
Yeah, I’m liking the vacuum-packed idea more and more…
Wow! That dress is gorgeous! You’ve got to keep it!
Larks recently posted…On earworms. And MURDER.
Thanks! Yeah it is pretty amazing.
A Pleasant House
What great memories! I designed each and every one of my prom dresses and my mother made them. Such work, such love- so I pitched them. Yea I know- I’m a real sentimentalist and an idiot!
A Pleasant House recently posted…A Girl’s Right Stuff
Oh no! I can’t imagine putting so much thought into something and then chucking it, lol! I still have a hideous skirt I made in high school. Hey, it’s unique!
I’d keep it – but I’m also sentimental and a borderline hoarder 😉 Those are some wonderful memories – thank you for sharing them with us 🙂
Cheryl Talma recently posted…I’m Out!
Haha, I have a tendency to keep too much, too, which is why I thought of getting rid of it. I was wondering if I was being silly…
I love this. I’m also glad to see I’m not the only one who held on to their dress. To be perfectly honest, I have more than one formal tucked away in my closet.
Thank you! Yeah, I have a few that are stretchy and glamorous, and I’m saving them just in case, you know, James Bond wants to take me out for dinner.
Gorgeous memories. Never get rid of it. Any of it. Too precious by far 🙂
Considerer recently posted…A lesson in graciousness
🙂 Thank you. I don’t even know if I could, at this point…
Of course you can’t get rid of it! Gorgeous and just look at you! I can’t believe your gradma made that. Mine could sew like that too only she passed away to young.
Stacie recently posted…Tango Throws The First Pitch
Yeah, I had thought about having her make my wedding dress, but she too passed away too young. I was lucky to have her for so long.
I think it’s been said – resoundingly – but I agree. You should keep that dress. It’s a piece of your grandmother’s soul and that makes it priceless. When my grandmother died, I kept her coffee mug. It’s nothing special, but she used it every day and it means the world because of that.
Great post, Natalie. Even if it did make me miss my gran.
Suzanne recently posted…Elsewhere
That’s funny, I have a coffee mug of my grandma’s too. It’s really the little things that bring the most remembrance…well, that and a big ol’ prom dress. 😉
Congrats to the Jury Prize Winner! Woohoo! Well done.
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