Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For the Love of the Dress

Originally published on Brisbane Threads
Written by Fashion's Sweethart Claire Nada

My love affair with dresses has been life-long. It has stayed with me through my years planting banana seeds on my dad’s farm, to those times I dressed up for the school disco, the years I was dealing with fluctuating weight and finally to the dinner parties I now host for my girlfriends. The dress has stayed with me longer than any boyfriend or best friend and I have a feeling this one just may be a keeper.

When I was only one year old my mother took me on a holiday to Brisbane. At the time we were living in a little apartment on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales and took as many trips away as we could afford. Running around the Brisbane Botanic Garden in 1992, I wore a white dress that puffed out at the base like a petticoat was hidden under its soft delicate fabric. I ran towards my father who was trying to take a photo of my mother and I in our matching ensembles, a pale pink being the prominent feature.

Skip a couple of years and I’m spinning around in a gorgeous princess dress that my Nanna made for my birthday. It is decorated with finishing touches including white lace and silver tinsel. This dress became my costume over the next year or so. You know those kids you go to the cinemas in Bat man outfits or fairy wings? I was that little girl and my passion was my birthday dress. I don’t remember it that well but from the amount of photos that my family possess where I’m pulling silly faces or laughing in this dress, or holding my favourite rag doll, I am certain it was my favourite for quite some time. As the photos get more recent the hem line gets shorter and shorter, and then for some reason or another it just disappears. Maybe, like a pet pig who suddenly goes off to the farm, my dress was taken from me by someone else.

Years later, I was pedalling, faster faster faster. Dad said if I continued to ride my bike as well as I had been my training wheels would be off in no time at all. As I zoomed past, my bike swang from side to side and the edge of my dress flew up, but only slightly. I let go of the left handle of my bike to push my dress back down and I pedalled, my dad shouting at me to hold on with both hands. That dress, that dress that matched my pink and white bicycle, took me down to the duck pond to share some tasty bread. That dress was with me at various birthday parties for kids at my primary school and when it came to summer was thrown over a cute little one piece I wore to the beach.

The dress stayed with me right through my years of primary school and on to high school. It took on various forms but always seemed to be there; in my wardrobe, and in my heart. The hemlines got shorter and I started to embrace my own style as I was buying my own clothes. Supre was my haven for new pieces and I spent all my time and money on shopping for the perfect fit. Suddenly, my body decided it wanted to get fat and as I began to feel self conscious I opted for maxi dresses and chunky pieces that rivalled a Mary-kate Olsen ensemble. There was a dress there for every occasion, every experience, every accessory. I was wearing a dress the first time I kissed a boy, and the first time I flew internationally, I wore one to my auntie’s wedding, and another to a fairy costume party.

The months of binge drinking that followed my eighteenth birthday were months spent in short figure hugging clubbing dresses that did not leave much to the imagination. The greatest thing about dresses then was that all I had to do was add a pair of heels and remember my ID to be set for a night out on the town. I was the cocktail queen and my dresses cost me, in most cases, less than what I spent on entry to clubs in one night. The drinks came complementary of the boys who were mesmerised by such a dress.

Now, I’m sitting here writing this in a long flowing maxi number. I’ve borrowed this dress many a time from my mother’s over flowing wardrobe. It’s black and blue and makes my small breasts scream for attention. It is soft and delicate as I run my fingers along the fabric. It makes me feel like a princess, the same way it makes me blush like a cute boy is about to kiss me. I feel something when I put on this dress. It’s something I haven’t felt with anything else before. I know it sounds shallow and materialistic but I have been my happiest when I was wearing dresses. I love shorts but nothing compares to the happiness I have when I swish my dress from side to side. It could be floral, or have a petticoat, or be covered in tinsel. It is my safety blanket. It’s the thing I cherish above chocolates or flowers. If a guy desires my heart he will complement me on my dress. Now I’m interested. Think about it, what piece of clothing has shaped you?