Saturday, January 29, 2011

prom gown

Fiona is on semester break, and I got the afternoon off work, so we went shopping for a "grad dress" which is what we call the gown you wear to your high school graduation dinner dance in these parts.

We went to brideville in New Westminster. Did you ever notice how bridal stores are in little clusters in various places? If you find one bride store, chances are there are six or seven in the same block. The closest one for us it about 20 minutes from home, on the bank of the Fraser River in downtown New West.

Lots of girls and their moms, and girls and their friends, and one girl and her boyfriend and mom were shopping for dresses. We visited about a half dozen stores, and found and purchased a dress in just a couple of hours. Fiona says I can say whatever I want about the dress, but I don't want to give everything away, especially in a specific way that I will explain soon. So here is what I have to say about moms and daughters and grad dresses.

When a mom shops with her daughter for a grad dress, she wants her daughter to look and feel beautiful at a special celebration event. Invariably, she remembers her own grad night and the gown she wore to it. She tries not to tell the story of her own grad (for the 50th time) nor to describe the gown she wore, nor to reminisce about how she sewed her own gown, or how they all drew their grad dates out of a hat (no lie, the whole class).

She hopes that her daughter's choice won't be too expensive, and if her daughter is sensible, she will assist in this, by discreetly checking price tags before trying on gowns. "Pouffy gowns,' the ones with layers and taffetta ballgown skirts and lots of fake jewels and frou-la-las start at $500. "Slinky gowns," the more form-fitting ones, start at $200. After that, the sky is the limit. The girls trying on dresses at the bride store look approximately like the women who walk the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards. The dresses are that fancy. (They are, however, not quite as expensive as those Golden Globe dresses.) Still, they are that fancy.

Once a number of gowns are tried on, and the right one is found, measurements are taken, colour swatches are consulted and a choice made, then the mom pays a down payment, and we all go away for about 3 months. The gown will be made to order in the correct size and colour. Then the girl and the mom go home. On the way home, the girl text-messages her friends to say that she has found the gown, and to advise that the deadline for orders at one shop is this Sunday. After that, the samples go on sale, and you take what you get. The mom tells the dad that the gown has been bought. The girls' friends start asking, "What does it look like? Did you take a picture?" (the gown store says no pictures please) The mom thinks about how moms describe their daughters' gowns to each other by gesturing towards their own bodies, showing how the bodice and skirt of their daughter's gown go on their own shoulders and hips. The mom tells the girl she will not do this. "I don't want to describe your dress on my body!" The girl says it's ok that moms do this. The mom resolves not to do this, even so.

So, here's what I will say about the dress. It is romaine green at the top and brussel sprout green at the bottom. It has taffetta under one half of the skirt and spandex under the other half. It has a satin belt in a grilled eggplant colour, with embroidered ladybugs with sequins for eyes. The sleeves are long, for modesty. On is a trumpet sleeve, with a real trumpet built in for band students. The other is a fitted sleeve that is hand-painted to resemble tattoos celebrating the school name and year of graduation. The skirt can be converted to a mini, using a carefully concealed zipper. It is biodegradable. It has a turtleneck at the front and a lizardneck at the back. It laces up with a piece of licorice. It comes with matching shoes, which is to say the shoes match each other but not the dress. When I step back and look at it, it makes me think of Newark. It cost $14.99.

question: what did you wear to prom/grad?

mompoet - just zipping it and enjoying the celebration

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