23 December 2006

The magical mini dress

The mini dress has been touted as the item to have since last winter. For a trend that can only be worn by a select few, let my rephrase, *should* be worn only by a select few, the minidress has stayed remarkably in vogue for months. Those singing its praises in the early days were primarily the style watchers who work for elite fashion magazines; you know the kind, those who put items from Barney's CO-OP in their token don't-break-the-bank features. I'm usually wary to listen to any advice those people give, not because I think they're wrong - not at all - but because I know I'm not part of their target audience. That being said, in the beginning of this whole mini dress phenomenon, I tried not be wooed by it. Let me be clear, the operational definition of "mini dress" is the high-fashion mini, not the tops-turned-dresses Britney's lady bits have been peeking out of lately. Up until July, I had convinced myself the mini was an impractical, undignified, just-not-me article of clothing. I liked not having my bare ass exposed to taxi cab vinyl, and with the strong winds that come out of nowhere in DC...from an analytic standpoint, donning a dress cut 8 inches above my knee didn't make sense. Down boys, down.

But then the East Village happened. That part of New York is fashion Narnia for me. When I first found myself at the corner of 9th and some letter street, it wasn't the fashion that drew me to the neighborhood, it was the Cuban restaurant with the spicy corn on the cob, the old record store that had an entire section of hard-to-find Teddy Wilson music, and the conveniently situated Rite-Aid that carried the ever elusive Diet Minute Maid orange soda. After a few blocks and a mouthful of corn, I discovered its true draw -- the vintage stores. Oh, the vintage stores!

It was in one of these lovely, tucked away little shops that my scorn for the minidress made an abrupt transition to adoration. In the space of one sunny July afternoon, I fell in love. Like most relationships, falling in love with my ivory knit mini dress with exaggerated puff sleeves and girly collar wasn't an easy or immediate process. As many vintage stores are, the racks at this particular store were so jam-packed in a melange of varying colors, fabrics, and styles that I got both a headache and a tricep workout moving each hanger. Fortunately, the drama in my dress was so severe I caught it right away. When I liberated it from the others, I truly had a moment. One of those I-will-never-forget-this-moment moments. I had just found my favorite dress. If in that store, that day, at that moment, I had been given the chance to swap that dress with any other dress - even this Marchesa dress - I wouldn't have. That's how much I loved it. And it wasn't even a mini when I found it, but thanks to Ahmet at Marrakesh, an alteration store a few doors down, it was 3 hours later. The store where I found my prize dress is unfortunately no longer in business, but that makes the story that much more charming. It's as if it appeared for the sole purpose of bringing my dress and me together, and once we'd found each other, poof, it was gone -- off to matchmake somewhere else.

The story of my magical mini dress is one I'm sure I'll tuck my daughter into bed with one day. It's about as face-to-face with fantasy as I've ever come. Or ever will. The life lesson, or fashion lesson, is to never close your mind to something before you try it. You may just get lucky like I did and fall head-over-stilettos in love.

The picture of Cameron Diaz really serves no purpose other than to reinforce the point that a minidress is indeed magical. She actually doesn't look heinous in this photo, does she? Not from the neck down, anyway.

1 comment:

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