Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prom dress

A friend from my current life discovered this photo of me in the "Photos of Nora" section of my Facebook page. Graciously scanned, uploaded, and tagged by someone from high school with nary a thought to my consent. "I'll never forget Nora's dress!!!!!" it says.

So my friend's all, NORA. TELL ME ABOUT THAT DRESS.

I'm all, what? I made it.

She's all, you have to blog about it.

And I'm all, bah, I had a bad day. No chance.

She's all no, you really have to blog about it.

And I'm all, what? I made it. It was 1991. What else is there?

And then, THEN, she gave me quite possibly the best compliment of my entire life, itself worthy of a blog post. And I quote:

It's like 1991 synthesized into ONE SINGLE DRESS.
It looks like opening credits to Saved By the Bell AS A DRESS.
It's like the L'Oreal spray gel bottle AS A DRESS.

So, okay. Give me a compliment and I'm anyone's, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. So here is the nonstory. I was all into sewing there for a bit. And I was all into being, you know, weird. Never one for pastels, more for either browns or brights, I wanted to branch out a bit from the gowns that were in fashion then. Some girl in my school had made her prom dress several years earlier out of camouflage material and looked pretty awesome--but I was never much into the camouflage or the hunting (this was rural Pennsylvania, where the first day of hunting season is practically a state holiday). To outdo the camo chick I deemed it not enough to make my own dress out of some fabric from the store, so I decided to make my own. Not with a loom and all, that would be a bit beyond my crafty capabilities. So somehow, in the half-assed way that I do, I sort of came up with this idea standing in the fabric store, why don't I make some sort of patchwork thingy, and then sew the dress out of THAT. Then lickety split before you know it I bought several colors, hoping it was enough to make a dress, and went to town. I had committed. It was, like my life, disorganized and chaotic but came together somehow.

It was sort of fun, patchworking the fabric together and then making a dress. It was sort of dumb, too. I had many, many moments of regret about not just buying a pink tulle thingy like everybody else. I actually look nice in pink, as it turns out. I don't know where my family was, letting me make that thing without telling me I was an idiot. They probably thought I was being creative or something. A dangerous thing for high school, for sure. Don't they know that blending in is way better?

(I had also, the year before, made a sweet orange and black polka dot number for the junior prom--asymmetrical hem, naturally. But I don't have a picture of that, and thank heavens no one has put one on Facebook.)

My date? We had broken up a few weeks before, but decided to go anyway. Awkward. (His mother's name was Nora, hmm). But I made him a stupid cummerbund anway. The theme? Remember how every prom had a THEME? It was something about the first Gulf War, not very romantic. And my hair? Wasn't it cute?

Oh, and the fabric? Velvet.


Melanie said...

Now that I think about it, a dash of Claiborne thrown in:

The Gulf War theme is only sweetening the pot.

Kristen M. said...

Oh my GOD! Finally I have a challenger to my 1992 "Carmen Miranda" prom dress (as my family lovingly calls it now). My mom made it (per my design instructions) and it was red satin with a purple and green satin tiered asymmetrical skirt. The whole dress weighed like five pounds from all of the satin and lining and as it turned out, everyone else had slinky black dresses. Though my picture would have you beat because I added massively huge hair on top of the excessively attention-drawing dress.

We have totally got to meet for coffee or tea and trade pictures!

Anne-Marie said...

Wow! I can't believe I didn't know about this! Your friend is right: little did you know as you were making that dress that you were encapsulating the essence of 1991 into a dress... :) Very impressive!

Nowheymama said...

L'Oreal spray gel bottle! HA! That takes me back.

And yes, my children get the first day of buck season off from school, just like I did. Ah, PA.

Rebekah said...

All I could see was that you were GORGEOUS! What a beautiful picture (and, okay, sure, the dress is pure Hammer Pants, but you? Bella!)

Magpie said...

It's like Pucci meets Mondrian. Amazing.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I knew it reminded me of something. That Loreal Gel bottle comment was a bolt of recognition!

I was a color block fan myself, though not brave enough (and in any case, too old) to wear it in a prom dress. You rock.

All Adither said...

I saw this on FB and wondered how you'd react...

I'm impressed by your ingenuity.

Serial Mommy said...

it's like a picasso, but not one of his monochromatic phases...and that i say WOW....

Anonymous said...

oooosh. That Facebook is a terrifying thing.

Susan said...

I am impressed by your creative patchwork! I made all of my prom dresses but did not have your panache!

Dani in NC said...

Just when I thought I might give in and create a Facebook profile, you reminded me why I shouldn't. I am an introvert for the most part, but it would be just my luck that some former classmate has a picture of one of those rare wild-hair-up-my-a** extroverted moments that I had in high school. No thanks!

Tricia said...

I'm in awe. Seriously, not only does it take guts and a real sense of self, but all that work. How wonderful!

Anonymous said...

your date still had to go with you even if you broke up. that's so the rule.

lapoflux said...

That is the most amazing dress - wow!

Maggie, Dammit said...


apathy lounge said...'s certainly original. And probably better than the one I wore.

phd in yogurtry said...

A couple thoughts. I was thinking, when I first looked, "now that's not so bad." But then you had to go and mention the velvet. December Prom up there in rural PA?

And... a gulf war theme? WTF? Mind blowing. Your dress was a premonition of shock and awe?

Mrs. G. said...

I'm speechless.

Jeremy Wineberg said...

i remember that dress, spectacular! how funny and wonderful to see it again and bizarre to see how time condenses into these strange, silly things. you don't still have it do you? i believe it's worthy of the collection at the Met.

JCK said...

Definitely the L'Oreal spray bottle. LOL!!

Fantastic dress. Hair awesome. glad I never have to go to a Prom again. At least not as an attendee!

Thanks for sharing the dress story.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Oh! I love this! And the date has one of those tuxedo scarf things, too.

So, we must all be forgiven for fashion of the 90s (and in my case 60s, 70s, and 80s), but NOT YOU! You embraced it!


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