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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Senior Prom Dress

Prom season is coming up in a few months and we all get nostalgic about that one memorable moment in our lives. Read on to discover how a prom memory is kept alive throughout the years!

Story by Jaine Flanagan


I still have it -- it's in a cedar chest in my living room. I bought it for $15 on sale in 1954. It was originally $150 and was reduced to "get it sold." It was a limp rag when I tried it on, but I knew it had possibilities.

The dress was purest white -- it was a strapless straight-across bodice with a beautifully finished waistline of piped fabric. The skirt, ahhh now that was the vision. . . the fabric was starched, eyelet organdy. I said it was purest white, but that was actually only in my mind -- I could see the finished product yet to behold.

I stood in the dressing room and the sales lady zipped up the back. It fit me perfectly, but it was a little long. She said quickly, "not to worry" and left the room. Thirty seconds later she swished back in and asked me to step into a hoop with a large, round bottom with two levels of stays. The perfect dress slid down over the hoop and it was magnificent...layers of ruffled eyelet organdy, each row about 7 inches wide all-round the dress, one just slightly touching over the next layer all the way down now sublimely barely touching the floor with the final row of eyelet just kissing the carpet. I stood and looked at it. At $15 it needed a bit of touching up -- I could tell it had been tried on many times. A bit grimy from the handling, but oh those possibilities.

I took it home -- Mother said, "Well, we have to wash it." And we did.Ivory Flakes.We washed the fine cotton pure white eyelet organdy dress with all the layers and ruffles in a slow washing machine -- Now this was an old wringer washer, not even a modern one. She knew how to do it, and she asked my godmother to iron it. Coletta spent a good couple of hours on that special dress, touching the hot iron to each tuck in the ruffles with careful, practiced hands.

Finally it was finished. It had a tiny bolero jacket to wear over the strapless top -- mandatory for girls in 1954 -- and it just set off my white pristeen ball gown perfectly. My date picked me up and brought me an orchid which I thought. . . well, the line about "gilding the lily" came to mind. I looked sensational, I had a wonderful sweeping entrance and the whole evening was showing off how wide my hoop skirt could swing.

Move forward,a bunch of years to 1982 and my youngest daughter Marilyn (having played dress-up in the gown many times) said, "Mom do you thing we can refurbish "the dress" for my prom? She took it to someone who added a blue ribbon to the waist and took off one row of the ruffled skirt making it cocktail length. She too, washed the dress, ironed it with a steam iron very carefully produced the newest version. She was a dream in that dress and had great fun telling her friends what she was wearing. Hey, this was my mom's prom dress. She did not wear the hoop.


The dress is a treasure and awaits yet another generation of granddaughters. Good things last.

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