Easter had always been my favorite holiday as a child. Obviously, one of the biggest draws for a kid was all the candy: chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, and jellybeans. The huge meal with glazed ham, mashed potatoes, and my Aunt Jean’s “famous” chocolate meringue pie, certainly didn’t hurt either.
But what really set Easter and not for instance Christmas, everyone else’s favorite holiday, over the moon for me was that each spring I got a brand new dress and matching shoes. It was, I guess my first experience with “occasion dressing”. I would drag my father around to what seemed like hundreds of stores for hours for the entire month leading up to Easter. The dress had to strike the perfect balance between pretty and cute, embellished and plain. If a dress had too much pink or too many bows, then it was out of the running. Too plain? I didn’t do minimalism at age 8. Out it went. When finally I did find the right dress, it was as if I had met my soul mate. When we arrived at home with my new purchase, I would lovingly place her on my bed and stare at her, occasionally petting her skirt or sash (For three years in a row I think all my Easter dresses had sashes).
My current obsession with shoes can probably be traced back to age 10 when I was finally allowed to wear shoes without a strap for Easter. No more Maryjanes, I was moving on! I remember feeling very grown up in my shoes that Easter. They were white patent leather, scalloped at the vamp, and embellished with a white satin rosette on the toe. I wore them to death that year.
Every Easter, I think back to all the Easter dresses and shoes of my past and marvel at the incredible emotional power that clothes possess. I often remember more readily the clothes I wore to certain events than the actual events themselves. New Year’s Eve at age 12: Brown and yellow changeable taffeta skirt with white blouse. High School Graduation: Cream silk pastel floral ballerina length dress from Dillard’s. Tearful breakup with boyfriend at age 21: Grey and black sundress bought while studying abroad in France. First introduction to current boyfriend 4 years ago: Black strapless Alexander McQueen dress with obi sash.
Clothes are more than just what you decide to put on your body. They can absorb and contribute to the emotions you feel when you wear them. For anyone who thinks that clothing is frivolous, just think to the important moments in your life when clothing played a pivotal role. Take for instance the wedding dress since the impending season of weddings is now upon us. Regardless of the positive or negative implications it may hold, what extremely powerful symbol and memory it is for those who wear it. For men, their first suit, or even their first tie is memorable. Clothes can serve as psychological markers for transitional periods in life. I’m sure that even for people who claim to hate fashion, they have significant clothes related memories that mark very specific moments in their lives.
Clothes can be powerful and serious, disposable and frivolous. They are cultural products with which we have incredibly intimate conversations. It’s what makes them so interesting. Clothes are contradictory and complex just like the humans that make them. I hope to have many more fashion memories.