As a femme, I have fallen in love with my dresses and I miss them almost as much as I miss summer itself. The short skirts, the lace, the bows, and the poufed crinoline inspired numbers—they all work together to fashion my character and portray my personality. As I go through my closet to uncover the perfect piece to don at this year’s Mautner Gala event, I find myself reminiscing about the various events these dresses and I have attended in the past. Each dress has a personality; each one tells a story and holds a unique memory.
The first dress I come to in my closet is a short and sleek black dress I’ve had since my 24th birthday. It’s a daring, strappy number with slits in places that I don’t dare expose today. Ah, to be 24, carefree, brave, and vulnerable. Though it doesn’t quite fit the same as it did when I first slipped into it, I refuse to allow this dress to cause me even a hint of body shame.
I stop and take out a puffy black dress I bought for a date to the Human Rights Campaign inaugural ball. It’s a one-shoulder number with a huge bow that rests beside my shoulder length red hair. It reminds me of a time when I was so nervous, awkward, and unsure of myself. I remember when I was asked to accompany my date to the ball, and the pressure to look poised and exquisite. I laugh as I realize the price tag was just as high as my expectations. Although the date would eventually lead nowhere, I know that this dress and I are still going places.
Beside that black dress ensemble is a sequined pink confetti-colored dress I wore to Capital Queer Prom with a girl I once loved so much, that I dyed my hair from red to black to make sure it didn’t clash. I take a moment to think back to that time in my life, reflecting the fun of that evening, and eventually sighing at the inevitability of the fallout. These dresses are perfect, even if the moments and memories that surround them are not. Perhaps if I could just get over them and the slight feelings of insecurity and inferiority they invoke within me, I might very well choose one of these for the gala event.
As I continue my search, I notice I have not one, but two bridesmaids gowns in the back of the bunch—one from my younger sister’s wedding and one from my college best friend’s wedding. They loom in the darkness and taunt, when is it going to be your turn to get married? While I’m not sure what the answer is, I take a moment to appreciate the fact that they don’t ask me when I’m going to get gay married. That would be worse.
I take a step back to span my entire closet and see that I have so many different styles of dresses that tell so many stories. I have dresses that have traveled with me from Brazil to Turkey to Palm Springs. I have dresses that have weathered the storms of age and change as I have. Though my initial response is to become frustrated at the options and pressure to choose, but I refuse. Because I, like most women, have that one dress. That one dress that is versatile, comfortable, and reliable. That one dress that I can wear to almost anything, and in the event that I don’t feel daring or brave or strong enough to overcome my insecurities, I know that dress will be right there waiting for me. And I wonder, if your dresses could talk, what stories would they tell?