Sunday, October 2, 2016
What We Wore
Elsa was telling me about Open Studios Day in Newburgh, NY. It's a poor town whose Mayor has encouraged art as a way of bringing joy and notoriety to the community. (Elsa said it reminded her of Cuba.) She was thrilled by an art installation of dresses. First the dresses, then the story of their significance to the women who wore them.
I immediately thought of wedding dresses. For in the galaxy of gowns, these surely are bright stars. My dress was ankle length (did that idea ever last?) purchased at Bonwit Teller. I wanted one from Saks Fifth Avenue because I had worked happily at their Detroit store one college summer. But this Saks was so snooty they demanded an appointment before they would let me look. So friendly Bonwit's got my business.
My dress was worn three times. By me, and two good friends. The result? Two divorces and one enduring marriage. I'd say this is tough but common for my generation.
Another wedding dress with a story was the one my friend Marcia -- as a widow -- bought years after her husband's suicide. She didn't have a groom or even a romance at the time but she was determined to have hope. "I can see myself wearing this some day," she smiled.
Marcia died before the imagined wedding. Since it was cancer that killed her, I'd say this too was sadly all too common.
P.S. to Ruth: I still have the book you gave me: Love and Loss and What I Wore.