A Dress A Day's favorite charity, natch, is The Glass Slipper Project, which donates formal dresses to young women who would otherwise not be able to afford to go to their proms.
So, if you have some Jessica McClintock number (I'm dating myself here, and not in the prom way) taking up space in your closet, well, the 80s are back! Donate it so another girl can enjoy a magical night in an over-decorated hotel banquet room. Or perhaps you've been often a bridesmaid, and have the packed closet to show for it? Send 'em along! Never went to a prom and are thus lacking prom accoutrements? They also take, you know, money. And donations of your time …
The Glass Slipper Project is Illinois-only, but Google "prom donation project YOUR STATE HERE" and you'll be sure to find a local group. Seattle has The Ruby Room. NYC has Operation Fairy Dust. One in DC seems to be run by a group called The Recovering Sorority Girls, which I thought was along the lines of the Lincoln Park Trixies, but they seem to actually be real. And they're doing good work, prom-dress-wise, so more power to 'em.
I know it's not exactly the food pantry, unless you think beauty is food for the soul. Which I do.
That is, you can't if you're me, because the store it's from, the UK High Street chain Topshop, is so completely sensory-overload, all the time, that even if you do dare wander in, you wander out again shortly, dazed, bleeding from your ears, and uncertain of basic information that you went in with, like your date of birth and what the hell you were looking for in the first place.
So you think, oh, okay, it's 2005, now they must have a web site! And of course they do, and it's a flashtastic eyefuck of A Clockwork Orange proportions, and it's all you can do to grab this screencapture and get out of there with your on-good-terms relationship to your retinas intact.
So. Click on the image, if you dare, to try to purchase this £35 dress. I didn't even get as far as checking their international shipping rates. If you get in and get out without turning into a drooling mess, please report back. You'll get a hero's welcome.
This is the kind of dress I wish could still be worn without the fear of being 'costumey'. It's a Norman Norell, picture taken from an odd site that I can't quite puzzle out. Click on the picture if you'd like to take a stab at it.
The other thing that keeps me from wearing a dress like this is the realization that, if I did, I would walk around with my arms held out like that ALL THE TIME. Which would make it hard for me to work my iPod. So that can't happen.
It's hard to tell, but this dress does have a collar. I know that comes as a big surprise to you all.
In this light all narrative was sentimental. In this light all connections were equally meaningful, and equally senseless. Try these: on the morning of John Kennedy's death in 1963 I was buying, at Ransohoff's in San Francisco, a short silk dress in which to be married. A few years later this dress of mine was ruined when, at a dinner party in Bel-Air, Roman Polanski accidentally spilled a glass of red wine on it. Sharon Tate was also a guest at this party, although she and Roman Polanski were not yet married. On July 27, 1970, I went to the Magnin-Hi Shop of I. Magnin in Beverly Hills and picked out, at Linda Kasabian's request, the dress in which she began her testimony about the murders at Sharon Tate Polanski's house on Cielo Drive. "Size 9 Petite," her instructions read. "Mini but not extremely mini. In velvet if possible. Emerald green or gold. Or: A Mexican peasant-style dress, smocked or embroidered." She needed a dress that morning because the district attorney, Vincent Bugliosi, had expressed doubts about the dress she had planned to wear, a long white homespun shift. "Long is for evening," he had advised Linda. Long was for evening and white was for brides. At her own wedding in 1965 Linda Kasabian had worn a white brocade suit. Time passed, times change. Everything was to teach us something. At 11:20 on that July morning in 1970 I delivered the dress in which she would testify to Gary Fleischman, who was waiting in front of his office on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. He was wearing his porkpie hat and he was standing with Linda's second husband, Bob Kasabian, and their friend Charlie Melton, both of whom were wearing long white robes. Long was for Bob and Charlie, the dress in the I. Magnin box was for Linda. The three of them took the I. Magnin box and got into Gary's Cadillac convertible with the top down and drove off in the sunlight toward the freeway downtown, waving back at me. I believe this to be an authentically senseless chain of correspondences, but in the jingle-jangle morning of that summer it made as much sense as anything.
From "The White Album," suggested by reader Sue O. (Thanks, Sue!)
Remember, submissions to "Dresses in Literature" are always gratefully accepted.
I think it's a given that, if you ever considered going on the pageant circuit, you would naturally turn to Ebay for all your gently-worn pageant gown needs.
According to the listing (click on the image to visit the listing) "THIS GOWN HAS BEEN GENTLY WORN ON A LOCAL AND STATE LEVEL THREE TIMES. IT HAS WON TWICE." Also: "OVER $300.00 IN AB STONES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THIS DRESS TO REALLY CATCH THE LIGHTS ON STAGE AND BELIEVE ME IT DOES." And: "IT IS LISTED BY THE COMPANY AS A SIZE 4, BUT PLEASE CHECK THE MEASUREMENTS TO BE SURE. THE DRESS CAN FIT UP TO A SIZE 8 IN THE TOP EASILY. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST SLENDERIZING DRESSES IN THE PAGEANT WORLD TODAY. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A TO DIE FOR WAIST THEN THIS DRESS IS IT." (All shouting is original lister's.)
I think this is all you need to know, really. Now I might dust off my application to the Mrs. Illinois Pageant. I always thought I had a shot at that, really, if they didn't mind that my "talent" is jumping rope on roller skates.
If I liked you in a dress
But you weren't the dress-up kind
If I said that you looked fine
Would you put one on some time
If I liked you in a dress?
From "In a Dress," on Mercury's Blues.
It's a cowl and a collar! A cowllar! Click through to see pictures of the dress from all angles, and even perhaps to buy it for $425. I'm not wild about the color, but maybe you might be.
Oh, and it's Claire McCardell again, of course. Did you really have any doubts?