For my wedding (quite a few years ago now), I asked a a dressmaker friend who was just opening her own shop to design and sew my dress. In the months leading up to the big day I stopped by for measurements and fittings and remember the excitement I felt as the dress took shape. It was unlike anything I had every worn: silk and satin with an overlay of lace; a long line of tiny pearl buttons; fitted bodice with long, flowing skirt; satin bow trailing down the back. My friend was a creative designer and expert, meticulous seamstress.
For years now the dress has lain dormant inside a dry cleaning bag in the back of my closet. Then recently I tried it on and was pleased to discover that it still fit. I love how it makes a luxurious swooshing sound against the floor. Why have I barely glanced at it for decades, I wondered while gazing in the mirror? For one, single day I gave myself license to look like a princess. Then shoved it into the back of a closet for all eternity.
These days, my typical wardrobe falls into the general category of casual/sporty with a few dressier items thrown in for nights out or special occasions. Friends would probably describe my style as updated and practical. And the fact is that I rarely have any reason to dress up. Working from home, I go through entire days without seeing another person, communicating exclusively by email and phone. It’s hard to come up with a good reason to change out of my sweatpants or worn-in jeans.
Like many women, I like the idea of looking perfectly beautiful or glamorous but keep it in the realm of fantasy instead of actually living it. I have a nagging feeling that I’m being too frivolous or not modern enough. I’ve never been someone who was obsessed with frilly things or the color pink. However, I was hooked on Barbie for a while in my pre-teens. And I was transfixed by certain picture books with happy endings, especially “Cinderella.”
However, I think the princess thing is primal. In my 20s, I love Audrey Hepburn and must have watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s dozens of times in my 20s; it seemed to help me weather the down times (see my previous post about Audrey’s style). I also love old musicals with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. One of my favorite scenes of all time is from Top Hat, when Ginger seems to float down that spiral staircase in a dress made of feathers. Watching them dance made me forget all my real-world troubles.
Maybe our continuing love affair with princesses is just that: a necessary escape. As modern women, we will do the practical things everyday at home and in our jobs. We will be responsible and fulfill our obligations. But sometimes we want to immerse ourselves in a world where nothing is mundane or practical and everything works out happily in the end. I wouldn’t even want life to be like that all the time, but it’s fun to watch.
Maybe I’ll even wear the dress again someday. We could renew our vows in a vintage-style wedding (Deer Pearl Flowers has posted some great vintage decorating ideas).
What do you think of the “princess” obsession? Out of place in the modern world? Or just a fun escape?