Life in a Frock: My Love of Dresses

The author in a favorite dress holding a model of the Cutty Sark built by her father.

There’s just something about a dress that makes me want to wear one all of the time. Historically, I’m not alone. People have been wearing dresses for thousands of years.

Not only is a dress stylish, but, to me, it represents the ultimate comfort — a one-piece garment that I can quickly grab out of my closet, put on, and not worry about having to find a matching second item to pair with it. That’s what I dislike about separates. The preparation it takes to complete an ensemble is a complete waste of my time. For example, if I choose to wear a top, I have to find matching pants. If I choose to wear a skirt, I have to find a blouse or a sweater to wear with the skirt. No thanks. I could use that extra time hunting for shoes!

Other pieces of clothing have never given me the same freedom and satisfaction that I get from slipping into a dress.

On occasion, I do buy tops and pants. But my collection — of blue jeans, and wool, cotton, and linen trousers — remains on the same hangers, in the same corner of my closet, for months… years… untouched. Those which are part of a pant suit may have gotten more wear than others but, for the most part, pants are treated like the redheaded stepchild.

Dresses have always been a part of my wardrobe growing up. As the daughter of a well-dressed, and beautiful, woman who liked to wear dresses, I became comfortable, at an early age, to donning them as well. My family liked to take photos. After my parents died in 2010, I inherited the family albums, in which there are lots of pictures of me and my two sisters. In almost all of my photos, as a little girl, I am wearing a dress.

The author in her dresses from age one through seven.

The author in her dresses from age one through seven.

When I was working as a television reporter, I used to buy lots of over-priced dresses from department stores. My favorite, which I still cherish, but rarely ever wear, is a chocolate brown Michael Kors of stretch wool, made in Italy, that I bought from Bergdorf Goodman. It is a custom-fitted sheath with three-quarter sleeves and a flattering boatneck-style neckline.

It was my love for wearing that dress that ultimately ruined it. I wore that dress while packing books in preparation of a move. I placed my foot on a chair, reached up on a high shelf to grab a book, and heard a loud rip by my knees where the opening of the dress was too narrow to accommodate the large step I took from the floor onto the chair.

These days, I have no need to spend heavily on dresses. My working day, as an entrepreneur, is spent glued to a chair in front of my computer and on my iPhone. A few days a week, there are meetings to attend, and I still wear a dress even though most of the entrepreneurs that I meet with wear tee-shirts and hoodies — in the image of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

To me, a dress is a staple to wear anywhere, and in any situation. I have been known to wear a dress to inappropriate places; and during inappropriate times. I’ve played softball in a dress; waded into water in a dress (to interview someone in a boat); covered the X-Games (an annual extreme sporting event) in a dress; painted rooms in a dress; ridden my bike in a dress; and roller-bladed in a dress.

But it wasn’t until last week, when in I was in Las Vegas for a journalism conference, that I truly learned how a dress had become my second skin.

The author roasting on a red rock in the Nevada desert.

The author roasting on a red rock in the Nevada desert.

My husband, Don, and I, along with Al, an editor friend from Boston, decided to take a day trip away from the journalism conference to see some rock formations in the Nevada desert. We drove about 40 miles outside of Las Vegas to a state park called The Valley of Fire — a hellish landscape crawling with snakes and scorpions, and dotted with large reddish rock formations made of sandstone. The tall mounds have endured centuries of harsh weather, and a buildup of iron oxide, resulting in their vibrant crimson color.

That day, it was 102 degrees farenheit in The Valley of Fire.  I decided to wear a crisp, white cotton sundress with a tulip-shaped skirt and a tie around the waist. When we reached the rocks, we got out of the car and grabbed our cameras. People were posing in front of the rocks to take pictures. The beehive-shaped formations were so beautifully enticing.

I decided that it was a waste, to drive all this way, just to stand in front of the rocks and take pictures. They are rocks waiting to be climbed. Neither Don, nor Al, would attempt it, but I wanted to do it.

And, so, I climbed that tall rock, wearing what I call my “Lulubelle” dress. Really, who needs pants? ♥