Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inside out: the story of the grad dress

The start of the story was here.

I graduated in 1994.  It was smack in the centre of some of the worst fashion choices ever.  During the day, we wore a lot of plaid, oversized pants, our father's suit jackets, and chunk ugly boots.  When we dressed up, we preferred velvet dresses that reached the floor and chunky heels.  Looking back, nothing actually fit us.

When it came to graduation, I did not want to be like the other girls I knew -- the ones who spent hundreds of dollars on a dress they would wear to a supper, a lame dance, and then throw up on after getting sick on smuggled in booze.  I wanted something different and unique and, apparently, super shiny.

I started designing my perfect dress.  I took one of my sisters' old paper dolls and -- using her as a body template -- started drawing.  I wanted something semi-off the shoulder (despite the fact I already had the shoulders of the line backer) and something semi-low cut.  It should be well fitted, but not so much that my "fat rolls" (like I knew what fall rolls were) would show.

Finally, after a hundred versions (or three) I was ready.  My friend, Rae, and I had a seamstress and she said she could make the dress to my specs.  I was pumped.  We went out and found material that would be perfect for it.  My material was shiny, emerald green and slippery.  I loved it.  The wrong side of the material was a dark green, creepy feeling, weird looking material.

The day of our first fitting, I was super excited to see my creation in real life.  The seamstress brought out the dress and laid it out in front of me in anticipation.  My heart sank.  The dress was inside out.  The ugly, dark green, creepy side was out for the world to see.

I tried it on and it fit perfectly.  I was polite and thanked her for her time.  We would come back again for one more fitting.  We left and I'm pretty sure I broke into tears.

My friend took pity on me and called the seamstress, telling her about the dress, and asking her to fix it.  Thankfully, because it is the epitome of bad 90s fashion choices.

It just wouldn't have been the same otherwise.


  1. I thought that I remembered that happening. I remembered it when I was having my grad dress altered.* Mom had a friend alter the dress, and she decided to lower the empire waist, so that it hit my actual (very low) waist. She said that she thought it would "lengthen" my torso.** I was angry and wanted her to put everything back in place immediately, but Mom wanted me to just like it and not rock the boat. I won.

    * For those who don't know, my grad dress was a 1970s thrift store find.
    ** For me, who has to buy special bathing suits because my torso is so long.

  2. We are so hard on ourselves in our youth, and it grows exponentially as we age, but I was once told something by another woman when I was lamenting over a recent photo of myself:

    What you consider hideous today, you will someday look back on and realize how good you looked.

    It's true. I only hope I live long enough to look back on photos taken of me now, to be able to say "Hey! I looked pretty good!"

    You may have thought you didn't look as good as the others in the photos, but they must have felt pretty insecure themselves...since they wore large black circles over their faces.


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