In 2015 I was studying communication, working part-time, falling in love, and making friends that I would later consider family. The part of my life in which I began collecting vintage was a time of change, discovery, and redefining–expanding, even–my concept of home. In a sense, that is what my journey through vintage is and has always been about.
This dress, this easy, playful shift, was a hallmark of that time. I felt free in the vintage I wore, as though I were coming into new parts of myself. I wore a pink denim vest and read poetry on sunny lawns and in clock tower shade. I teased my closest friend that I would buy red sequinned pants and did. I regularly spent part of my newspaper job paychecks on vintage, eagerly awaiting packages at my college dorm (if a friend was nearby I’d open it with them) or my parents’ house if it were summer.
This dress actually came from the same seller as the aforementioned pieces, an Etsy shop that has unfortunately since closed. It is fashioned from a very lightweight cotton that never overheats and never seems to wrinkle: perfect for Oklahoma running around. There are no labels, but it is difficult to say whether it’s handmade. A simple metal zipper covers more than half the length of the dress, which hits about mid-thigh.
The deep navy blue, a common hue in my wardrobe, is background to a series of white dots. While the pattern appears to form simple vertical stripes, upon closer inspection one can see that alternating strips are actually strings of daisy-like flowers, complete with stems and petals. After the silhouette and hard-to-miss collar, the flowers are perfect evidence of the classically playful 60s motif.
On that note, the oversized collar is undoubtedly youthful. Almost as long in back as it is in front, it hangs slightly over the shoulders, and its size helps to balance the more narrow bodice of the dress with the a-line structure of its skirt. I’ve had some difficulty in being certain of what to call the style; my first instinct is that it is a Peter Pan collar, but Puritan collars are also sometimes described as this one appears. Seeing it in on myself in the mirror or in photos is like picturing my head between two clouds–as light as I feel wearing vintage.
Visiting my parents is another form of that lightness for me these days, and though right now it doesn’t come quite often as I’d like, it always does the trick. I leave feeling full and with a more complete perspective of the love of family. Theirs was the home I was extending out from in those mid-college years, and those are roots I would never change.
“Make yourself at home” is a blessing of a phrase. It is a reassurance that love is an option and that feeling safe is possible. As I did back then, I’m re-learning the creation of home. I am at home in poetry. In picnics. In perfectly worn dresses. In early morning smiles from my husband.
When graduation rolled around, I wrote on my cap that “a heart has many homes.” It is more true every day.