Brand building through storytelling

In search of the perfect dress

I once owned my idea of the perfect summer dress. A gauzy flutter of batik-printed cotton in shades of ultramarine, it had a blouson top and a wide sash that tied at the hip, from which an ankle-grazing skirt billowed and swung. The broad neckline was cut to slip off one shoulder, revealing a little skin. With no zipper, buttons or snaps, it was a dress to cut loose in, the sort of outfit Robert Herrick had in mind when he wrote, “A sweet disorder in the dress/Kindles in clothes a wantonness.”He wrote that in the 17th century, and to me it’s still a more astute comment on the transformative power of a garment than anything I’ve seen in Vogue.

I must have lived in that dress for about 10 summers while it gradually crossed the line from sweet disorder to faded dishevelment. I eventually pitched my beloved little rag, which by that time wasn’t fit for charity, but the hole it left in my closet went unfilled for years. So when I spotted an almost identical dress on a young sales clerk at a neighbourhood boutique, I wanted to rip it off her. Instead I exclaimed, as women do in moments of extreme clothing lust, “Where did you find that wonderful dress?”

She smiled (a bit smugly, I thought). “A vintage store.”

Oh. Of course. That dress is 25 years old. There will never be another new one.

To recapture the pleasure of a dress, the effortless way it slips over your head and into a hot summer day, I would have break down and buy another one. I chose an ankle-skimming sundress with spaghetti straps and a flounce at the hem. Because it came from Gap, there will be lots of women in the same dress. But they won’t be wearing theirs with a broad-brimmed straw hat, silver sandals and a quartz pendant. In my new $55 dress, I am again my slightly more wanton self.

Posted by Rona

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