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Love, loss, and what I wore

January 10, 2011

A spaghetti-strap black dress that fell right above the knee, with red roses all over and a lace overlay…

I was 13 and quiet as a mouse, hiding behind cardigans and velvet overalls. My older rebellious sister insisted that I steal the attention of my seventh-grade crush at the spring dance. We went to Macy’s, and it was in a poorly-lit cramped fitting room that she decided on “the one,” a horribly inappropriate, lacy, black, sex dress. “This is what you’re wearing,” she said.

She did my makeup and hair which matched the outrageousness of the dress. I looked 13-going-on-24. I arrived to my friend’s house where we were taking photographs, where all of my friends’ mothers stared at me in horror. My sister was beaming with pride. I was hands down the sexiest seventh grader of them all.

I was immediately escorted out of the dance by my assistant principal for “wardrobe violation.” I sat next to a girl in a powder-blue strapless, also violating the no-exposed-shoulder rule. I had to sit in a cold, metal chair waiting for my Mom to pick me up, and I was assigned a week of detention for my dress.

A Charlotte Russe, red V-neck tank top with a built-in bra (I had one in every color)…

We had spent the night before at my parents’ house, when they were both out of town. (Sorry, Mom.) We watched “Garden State” and drank Barefoot Pinot Grigio. We dozed off on our leather couch, and when I woke up with his arms still as tight around me as when we fell asleep, I knew it then: I loved him. That was it. Sold. I bit my tongue.

The next night we were out with friends at a party. An awful cover band was playing Sublime’s “What I Got” and he was laughing at something I said. I pulled him over to a corner where we could be alone, and I said it: “I love you.” He hugged me and said nothing back. The red tank top was later soaked in tears and eyeliner, looking like a Dashboard Confessional lyric. He said “I love you” the following night and about a thousand times more after.

Last night I saw “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Westside Theatre with my sister. The show features a rotating cast which changes every month or so. Last night’s was fantastic, starring most notably Kate Flannery (Meredith from “The Office”), Didi Conn (Frenchy from “Grease,” and don’t forget “Grease 2”), and Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H). It’s written by Nora and Delia Ephron, and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman (which, unfortunately, I have not read yet).

The show is a collection of stories from different women, from childhood to old age, from maternity clothes to lesbian wedding suits, to first training bras, to post-mastectomy bras. The stories make you laugh till you cry — recalling the atrocious outfits your grandmother bought you for Christmas, the nightmare that was your first prom dress. But the stories one by one unravel into extremely touching tales. Ever notice when you look at a photograph of you in a particular sweater or shoe, you remember everything about that moment? How you felt when you got dressed in it, how at the end of the day in those clothes your expectations didn’t meet reality, whether for better or for worse?

So many of our clothes are inconsequential, worn and torn from a cycle of trends and coffee stains, thrown into a pile of clothes to Goodwill at their retirement. Like most days out of the year, we never think of them again. But there are those gems in particular that you’ll never let go. Like that shirt you incorporate into every single outfit and have to force yourself to not wear it because it goes with everything. Your favorite pair of boots you wore during that first brutal winter in New York. What begins as a purchase rooted mostly in vanity ends up being a sentimental landmark.

If you’ve ever cried because you lost your favorite shirt, if you jam to Madonna’s “Vogue” when you get dressed in the morning, if you’ll never forget what you were wearing when you had your first kiss — I beg of you to go see “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” in Manhattan. Bring your best friend, your Mom, or your sister; guarantee you’ll grab their hand in oh-my-God-this-is-so-us moments more than once.

Oh, and for the record if you go see it, my favorite scene was “I Hate My Purse.” You’ll know when it’s happening. “YOUR PURSE IS YOU.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2011 12:28 pm

    Who can I convince to go with me??? I want to go when Alexis Bledel is in the cast!

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