The Dresses

I found it at a thrift store in Bozeman in 1987.  The silk label reads, “Mardi Gras – New York,” in a fancy script beside an image of a black mardi gras mask.  The fabric is a brocade of black and midnight blue. brocade The cut is classic feminine, putting curves where I don’t have them.

I bought it to wear to a costume party.  The party was a spoof of a 1965 high school prom.

I wore black pumps, cat-eye glasses, and carried a black and white box purse.  I curled, sprayed and teased my normally undone brown hair.  After a couple glasses of wine, we decided we couldn’t add anything more to our costumes.  On the way out the door, I took a look in the mirror and gasped.  I looked like a taller, less refined version of Jacqueline Onassis.

I did not look like me.

My wardrobe at the time (it’s actually not much different now) consisted of flannel shirts, Levis and t-shirts.  Most of the folks at the dance didn’t recognize me.

Apparently, I was attending the ball as my alter ego.  It was a blast to be delicate and dainty and refined and classy.  It was enjoyable being pretty, even if it was uncomfortable being looked at in a whole new way.


That dress is still in my closest, hanging below a shelf full of faded Levis, high school annuals and shoes I never wear.  My alter ego won’t let me pass the dress on.  Jenny used to love to put it on when she was going through her dress-up phase.  Now she prefers jeans, skater-dude shoes and long-sleeve shirts.

I notice she’s more comfortable covering her body.

I suppose she gets that from me.


A few months ago I was playing on Pinterest.  I Googled Vintage Cocktail Dress and discovered this dress.  I loved the color, the fabric and the cut.   When I pinned it, I labeled it, this pink.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get an email from Pinterest saying that someone has repinned this pink.

I marvel at how that dress appeals to so many.

Why does that dress speak to us?

What do you think when you see it?

Is there something in all of us that makes us want to wear a dress that is completely feminine?

Does that dress speak to an alter ego  hidden behind jeans and t-shirts?

Does this pink whisper to us to come out and dress up and have tea and write letters in long-hand and place doilies on end tables and walk with grace and better posture?

Is that why I can’t give the Mardi Gras dress to Goodwill?  The black and blue dress reminds me of my roots as a female – a female who used to love to dress up and fix her hair and decorate her home and tend flower beds.


Jenny won’t let me get rid of the black dress either.

Related Post

A Day Off I'm contemplating treating myself to a day at the spa. Not really. But seriously...  can it be that a celebration is in order?   Nah... I never feel right spoiling myself. I'm always doing the pampering, not receiving the pamper...
Eclipse Through the Sumacs I hadn't set the alarm.  There's no need for an alarm for the important stuff. With a cranberry red throw draped around my shoulders, I unlocked the front door.  Nina comes quick whenever she hears the locks on the door.  She didn't look up at me fo...
Uncharted Territory When Hank smiles, his eyes crease, filling the white crows feet created by off hours spent on the river in the sun. "Nice to see you, Janna. What'll you have?" "A gin and tonic would be great. Thanks. How are you? It looks like you've managed to fin...
Adjusting My Lens I can't deliver a swift ass-kicking to Mubarak, save all those children and spread a blanket of calm and peace over Egypt. I can't reverse the path of the Cat 5 cyclone currently heading for Australia. I can't warm up the temps, or remove all t...

Tags: ,


  1. Well, I must chime in. Don’t get rid of the dress! I think what you feel for the dress is what I feel for old 40’s to early 60’s movies. I love how the men are dressed in sharp tailored suits and the women in flattering dresses and even the props – the cars the furniture…just love it. I happened upon some old “Fun with Dick and Jane” pictures with Sally and Spot! I just loved seeing them! I loved their “dress.” The girls were in dresses and Dick was in a very nice pant and shirt. I thought I kind of miss that. I remember we girls wore dresses everyday to school until our 3rd grade. It was then they allowed girls, our age, to wear pants. Remember that? I was so glad we could wear pants not jeans…pants. Jeans did not come until later. I think there may be a part of us who kind of miss the formality we use to have. It was classy. Beautiful dress Jesse!

  2. Marci,

    Thanks for chiming in. You know, it does seem there has been a slow, steady decline in decorum.

    I will never give up my jeans, but I’d kill for an occasion to wear a nice cocktail dress.


  3. Me too. :o)

  4. Jesse,

    This is lovely. I think it resonates with all women. Not all of us are wired to be necessarily “girly” but we are all wired to be cherished and to look/feel beautiful. Well, at least that is my take . . .

    Take care of yourself . . .

  5. Lynn,

    Thank you so much.

    That’s the word/feeling I’ve been trying to find – cherish.

    I so want to know what that’s like.

    That’s what the pink dress demands.

  6. I think we yearn to bring feminine energy into this world, and sometimes it just feels too hard. I see the dress as a reminder of the positive in sharing, compassion, I-see-and-accept-the-real-you, isn’t life beautiful, trusting people that we long to be more of.

    My daughter would tell me it’s just a dress, but I think she yearns for the same thing–that’s why her room is packed with dresses, and heels, and makeup.

    Keep it. Consider wearing it. Really.

  7. Alyson,

    I love this. God, I so want more feminine energy in my world. It doesn’t take away from the masculine, it makes the whole richer – so much richer.

    I’d wear the dress, but when it’s zipped, I can’t take a full breath. Yeah, I know, who knew rib cages expanded with pregnancy.


  8. I agree with Alyson. We yearn for feminine energy. I would so wear that dress.

  9. Hey Gwyn,

    Thanks for reading and chiming in. ;)

  10. I’m agreeing with Lynn, we all need to be accepted as we are, cherished… My dear Aunt told me that everyone deserves to be adored… I hang on to that quote and think of it everyday.
    Your ‘that pink’ dress is a stunner, just like you.


  11. Annie,

    We are all stunners! Every single one of us.

  12. I’m betting that with a dressy cardigan over the dress, or a scarf, you wouldn’t even notice that it wasn’t zipped all the way.

    I, too, love watching the old movies just for the clothes. I adore color, so watching a B&W movie all the way thru just doesn’t do much for me, but the costumes are a draw.

    I remember also wearing dresses to school. We were allowed to wear pants during the winter under our dresses, but only to school. Once we arrived, we had to take them off. The control-freak principle of my elementary school had a problem with me wearing pants to school later in the year than he thought necessary. I was in third grade. I wonder why he didn’t take that up with my parents? ….turd……

    I have a dress that I doubt I will ever get rid of. It resembles a man’s suit in that the collar and front are made that way. But it’s yellow, knee length straight skirt, back slit with long, looser sleeves. I adore that dress because I remember how Powerful I felt in in. Plus, my mom purchased it for me in a very rare shopping trip and we were not friends in this life. So, the dress is magical.

    I also haven’t worn it in decades. I have considered having one made in my current size, but I’m not sure the magic would be the same.

    I suggest that you have a tea party for all of your loyal and loving readers and we can all wear our dressy, feminine favorites!

    How soon can you set it up??? :)

  13. I bet we all have that “thing” that makes us feel so feminine. Mine is a dress also… that I rescued from Good Will. Can’t wait to wear it again.

    What a great post… so poetic, romantic and so you!!!!

  14. Donna,

    I have a fantasy that one day we will all meet up for a long weekend. We’ll sip tea/coffee/wine/milkshakes and talk until there are no more words. (Is that possible?)

    I envision this huge swirling, healing energy enveloping all of us. By the time the weekend ends, we’ll feel lighter and brighter and we won’t one bit care if the zippers don’t go all the way up. We’ll revel in our own beauty and wisdom and we’ll go out into the world and share our true selves without fear of rejection or criticism. That confidence in our wise selves will serve to benefit those who are looking for answers.

    One day.

    The Survivors’ Tea Party.

    Where should we have it?

  15. Dee,

    Oh! I wanna see you in that dress. ;)

  16. Have you ever gone to the opera? Best excuse to get all dressed up and listen to beautiful music. I can lose myself when I am there…no company needed. I have this one simple, but elegant and sexy dress that is perfect for that. :)

  17. Zaira,

    Oh, one day… I’d love to.

    Nothing like that close to home.

    I’d go by myself and swoon and cry to my heart’s content.

  18. I love this blog! All of you are amazing! The idea of a tea party is marvelous! Count me in! If I could pick anywhere to have it, I would choose either London (of course) or a spot somewhere equidistant for everyone. London is certainly a nice thought though . . . even if it is not terribly realistic.

    Pamper yourself and believe you are so worth being cherished!!!

  19. Lynn,

    Oh! London would be lovely. I’ve never been and always wanted to go.

    I agree with you on the pampering.

    What’ll you wear to the tea party?

  20. Jesse,

    I will wear a dress that makes me feel beautiful and shoes outside of my usual comfort zone to add just the right touch.

    How’s that ; )?

    I love the idea of a survivors’ tea party!

    Thank you for writing! I appreciate your words a lot!

    All the best . . .

  21. Donna, I agree I like movies in color more than B&W. I love TECHNICOLOR!!! Loved it. You also have a terrific idea on the tea party!!!

    Jesse, you must plan this enchanting event!


  22. Lynn,

    I might wear heels, too. Never do, really, cuz I don’t like towering over people. (The heels will undoubtedly end up kicked off in a corner some where.)

    That you for reading.

    Not sure all this would be as gratifying if it weren’t for the sharing that happens in the comments. ;)

  23. Marci,

    Wouldn’t a tea party be wonderful?

    Do you think we’d ever run out of things to talk about?

    I don’t! ;)

  24. I suggest calling it the Thrive-rs Tea Party. We are done with just surviving.

    I would adore traveling to London, Lynn, but I’ve heard the food isn’t that good. Perhaps we could go to London for tea, (I mean, really where else could it get more authentic?), and then to Paris for dinner in our finery.

    I can see all of us traipsing around Paris in our dresses and heels, stopping at an outdoor cafe to refresh ourselves and rest before leaving for dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower!!

    Oh, can I be the travel guide?? I would even be willing to (re)learn my conversational French!

  25. Is Seattle close enough? I am on the opposite coast, but have family there….I would love to dress up and meet you all in the gardens for tea. Since I am in NE, they have many places that are beautiful, elegant and old with enough England left in them to serve tea in the afternoons. I have never been even though I want to badly, but it requires the right company!

  26. Zaira,

    Seattle is close to me. I LOVE Seattle and have family there, too.

    I’ll make sure to put it on the list of possibilities.

    Good suggestion!

  27. Donna,

    I love that – Thrive-rs’ Tea Party. When I suggested Survivors’ Tea Party, I thought to myself, “God! Are we there yet? Can we move on?”

    Okay then, Paris is on the list.

    Maybe it ought to be the Thrive-rs’ World Tour! Lord knows we deserve it!!

    Yes!! You’d be an excellent travel guide.

    Book is due to be ready by the end of July. Perhaps I’ll set aside some money for the counseling/college funds for the kids and the rest goes to the tour.

  28. Donna,

    I love the idea of adding Paris. Since we are forming a wish list, I will add Tuscany for a dinner and wine we would never forget.

    The company would be amazing . . .

    I agree we are all thrivers–trying to move on from being survivors. I focus on trying to thrive but am still trying to survive.

    I appreciate all of you and this chance to support one another.

  29. Jesse,

    Since I am a newcomer . . . what type of book are you writing, if I may ask?

    Be well . . .

  30. Lynn,

    I don’t think of you as a newcomer. ;)

    Of course you may ask…

    The book, Seeing My Path, is based on an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with myself. I’ve been asking myself how it is that I ended up in a relationship with a narcissist. I analyze choices made, detours taken, and the process of rediscovering myself.

    Thanks for asking.

    p.s. I’ve always wanted to go to Tuscany. ;)

  31. Jesse,

    Please count me in on the pre-order of your book! I very much appreciate your efforts to be a voice for all who have suffered by loving a narcissist. It is a painful and devastating experience.

    Tuscany is on my “someday” list. It just sounds so beautiful!

    Take care . . .

  32. Lynn,

    Thanks so much for continuing to visit this blog.

    Every time I write a post, I think of how desperate I was, in the middle of the night, to know what I was doing wrong.

    For me, the discovery of NPD was both liberating and empowering.

  33. Jesse,

    Like you have written before, it is very helpful to know that the hurtful words/behaviors were not about me but a reflection of him–insecurities and anger lashing out.

    I know what the kids and I lived was not normal, healthy, or acceptable. We did not deserve such treatment.

    I am working toward healing and hope for my kids and me and trying to find a new normal in the midst of lots of uncertainty.

    Thanks again for the encouragement your words provide!

    Be well . . .

  34. Lynn,

    If you read where we were a year ago – failed counseling sessions, supervised visits at my mom’s, angry emails, false accusations, legal threats – it’s clear that a year can make a huge difference.

    I hope that shows you that progress is possible. One day at a time.

    Take care.

  35. Marci…yes, give me color any day! Altho I surprise myself sometimes, but the pix that Jesse takes for the blog are quite amazing.

    London is realistic, Lynn. We Thrive-rs can do anything we want! :)

    So far the itinerary is: London for a proper tea; Paris for a delicious dinner and sight seeing, and Tuscany for at least several days (or weeks!) We could make one location our home base, and travel from there because distances between countries is so small.

    Also, to support us feeling good about ourselves, we need pampering, so a day at the spa would be fabulous. (Not saying for sure, but maybe somewhere near Seattle……??) Massages, pedi & manis, facials…nothing like someone lovingly caring for you to give you days of feeling in love with the world!

  36. Donna,

    So, I’m wondering if you are comfortable being called, Official Thrive-rs Tour Guide and Cheerleader?

    I love how you can always be counted on to cheer us on!

    I’ve never been a shopper, but I see a stop in Milan in our futures.

    Oh, I bet my sister-in-law might know of an excellent spa in the Seattle area.

  37. Jesse,

    Thank you, and, yes, your progress definitely gives me hope for better days to come. I am hanging onto that hope for dear life!

    Thanks again . . .

  38. Donna,

    I love the way you think . . . and I agree with Jesse about you being the “Official Thrivers Tour Guide and Cheerleader.”

    Be well . . .

  39. Wow!!! Love it!! Thrivers Tea Party goes on a World Tour! Fabulous!

    Jesse, I knew you were writing a book – but I did not know you finished it and it is going to be published!!! That is so wonderful!!! Congratulations!!! I hope I may have a pre-released signed copy?! Next, it will be a movie! Uh? Uh? Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And sooo sooo possible! Good on you my friend!! Again, Congratulations!

  40. Marci,

    You crack me up. I love your enthusiasm! ;)

  41. I humbly (dressed in a fine frock w/a full skirt, heels, pearls and gloves) and graciously accept my new post as:

    Official Thrive-rs Tour Guide and Cheerleader!

    I don’t know that I’m that good at cheer leading….y’all seem to be doing just fine yourselves!

    I have to say that talking about this Thrive-rs World Tour made me feel more alive than I have in quite a while. I actually DO have a travel company in mind to set this up when the time comes.

    We will need to have official t-shirts made up with the official Thrive-rs World Tour & Tea logo on it, so we can find each other in a crowd. Any graphic designers in the crowd? :)

    I also agree that if this is what we want and we continue to focus on it and cherish the idea in our hearts, well we will be on that tour faster than you can imagine!

    I am truly honored and blessed to be a part of this community. I love seeing the ‘regulars’ show up to post and also the new people who are braving their new path of healing.

    Cheers to us ALL!

  42. Donna!

    I have goosebumps. Seriously!

    I can’t think of a better person for the role. You’ve been here since November of the first year of this blog! You have been so supportive here.

    Yes on the t-shirts! I know where we can have them produced, if we find a design we love.

    And I couldn’t agree more… If we want this, if we believe we can do this, if we keep showing up to support each other and believe in each other, this can really happen.

    Signing off with a warm, happy heart and all those goosebumps!

    love ya,


Leave a comment