I spent my last few weeks of college crazy-busy finishing papers and getting ready to graduate. I needed two outfits for graduation weekend, one for the senior dinner, one for graduation. And one of those outfits would double for the second graduation I would attend that weekend, my mom’s. I needed things to wear, but I was too busy to think about it, too busy to make anything.
I started sewing in 7th grade. At first, I made clothes because we didn’t have much money and making was cheaper than buying. I wasn’t a great seamstress — too hurried, too careless — but I got the job done. In 8th grade I took sewing in Home Ec (do schools still offer Home Economics classes?), and got more practice sewing. I made a pair of singularly unattractive peasant tops that I loved. Then I realized that sewing was more than a money saver. It gave me two additional gifts: 1) I could make clothes I liked that were my size, and 2) I could guarantee that no one else would have the same things I did … and that last suited my already raging ego just fine.
So. Sewing. I’ve gotten better over time, have made some things I’ve really loved: a blackwatch plaid, wool crepe shift that made me feel like a first lady, especially when I wore it with pearls and my excellent green Vaneli heels, a dark blue linen vest and skirt “suit” that remains the sexiest outfit I’ve ever owned, a hot pink jersey top that made the perfect backdrop for the Oingo Boingo pin I used to love, a red winter coat in a thick red wool with an enormous shawl collar that made me look like I was trying to recreate an old Blackglama ad.
But for graduation, there was no sewing. I shopped. I found a dress and a summer suit. Done and done. I wore the suit to the senior dinner and the dress to my graduation. I finished college and the got ready to watch my mom do the same. I decided to wear the suit.
It was a cotton-linen blend with thick grey and white stripes, thicker on the jacket than the skirt. The skirt hit just above the knee, the jacket had shoulder pads that I cringe at the thought of today. I can’t remember what shoes I wore, but they were probably pumps, probably black.
My mom went to a larger school than I did, so there were a LOT of friends and family under the big white tent that Sunday. A lot of friends and family … and seemingly every third woman was wearing my suit! It was a complete horror show. Oh, there’s my suit in powder blue. There it is in pink. Oh, she found it in peach. Yes, and all three of them have it in grey … so does that woman right in front of me. Result!
Yeah. I mentioned my vanity above. My raging, petulant-teenager vanity. Imagine my pleasure at seeing at least three and a half dozen women wearing my suit. Clearly it was the suit of the season. I was right on trend!
I think about that graduation moment every spring, every time I look into shop windows and think, “Oh, that dress is kind of cute.” I make myself remember that pretty May day full of identically dressed women, and I turn my thoughts to the beautiful new machine set up on my sewing table downstairs, and to the stack of patterns and piles of fabric waiting for me to start working on new additions to my warm weather wardrobe.
It’s spring and my thoughts turn to sewing notions, all the bits and pieces that will add up to make the closet full of new dresses I’ve been dreaming about. Time to get started …
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