Picture for yourself what it was like to enter those vast, magical, engulfing places as a child: a library, an old relative’s home–the like. Places that because of one thing or another seemed far too big compared to the space you occupied.
Think back too, if you will, to those stories of youth and adventure that find some unwitting main character stumbling upon a treasure.
If you can do those things, you may have a sense of what I felt when finding this dress, and perhaps, the fairy tale it’s been putting it on each time since.
It wasn’t long after moving back to my college town to start a new semester (a little over a year ago) that I popped into an antique store I’d been in just a couple times before. I took my time, anticipating the back of the store where I knew there had once been a few vintage pieces.
This was early in my vintage journey: this would be only my third dress to buy, and antique stores were still the only places I’d acquired them.
When I finally reached a little nook in the back of the store, I gave a sweeping glance over the heavy furniture and a few clearly too small vintage pieces. Then I saw it.
On a slightly tucked away mannequin, glimmering faintly under the soft light, sat a dream in peach and gold lace.
I was awestruck. Though I’d never seen anything like it, I knew it was something I’d always wanted. By the length and cut it appeared to be from the 1950s: tea-length, full skirt and with a fitted bodice and delicate neckline.
Looking at it now still gives me the same delighted feelings as when I first saw it.
The beauty is done in a peach lining with a gold floral lace overlay, giving the dress a yellow-orange glow with pink undertones. Across the bodice are two satin straps that cross and meet in a slim bow. The straps are detailed with rhinestones and pearl flowers.
The dress’s condition is rather good, except for a few moth holes in the silk lining at the shoulder and the hem. However, there seems to be no damage to the lace and very little to the tulle lining, the zipper functions smoothly, and all the bead work is completely intact.
Inside the dress was a small tag noting the size, marked a 14, which to my delight in learning was the equivalent of a modern 8. I’d learn this shortly after buying the dress, from an incredible resource titled Vintage Fashion Complete by Nicky Albrechtsen.
Excitedly, I unzipped the dress and removed it from the mannequin. I figured by looking that it would fit me, but I wanted to be sure.
I glanced towards the front of the near-empty store, making sure no one would mind if I slipped it on over my jeans and t-shirt.
No questionable looks and no one to give them, so I moved quickly, taking extra care that I not overstretch (especially with a second layer of clothing underneath) and rip the dress.
I twirled around a bit before removing it and placing it back in it’s original position. I tossed around the idea of purchasing it, not sure if it were something it’d be worth buying. Again, moth holes. And besides, college. Books. Things I need.
I left the store telling myself that if it were still on my mind–and still in the store–I’d come back for it the next day. I did, and the rest is not so much history, as it is another adventure awaiting.