I tried it on just for fun. I was fifteen years old, from New Jersey, in a London department store with my parents. We weren’t really shopping; we were having a “cultural experience” and just looking around. Mom checked out raincoats. I wandered into formalwear.
One dress called to me, so I took it into a fitting room. I tried it on, admired myself, and took it off again. I wanted to show it to my mom, just hold it up in front of me and say “Isn’t it pretty???” So when the lady managing the fitting rooms asked me if I wanted it, I said “yes.”
I’m used to that “yes” meaning “don’t take it away from me and hang it back on the rack, at least not yet.” But, in this more-upscale-than-I-was-used-to store, that was her cue to scoop the dress out from my arms and wrap it in tissue paper. As she prepped it for purchase, I saw my mom heading for me. I panicked! We were in a foreign country and an officious adult was expecting me to buy a formal gown! I didn’t have any money. What would my mom say??
What she said was that it wasn’t too expensive and I needed a dress for high school choir. Relief came first, that I wasn’t going to get into trouble for misleading the fitting room matron, and then thrill–my first formal dress! Just like the ads in the prom issue of Seventeen!
Besides choir, I was mostly into drama in high school. That beautiful white dress was my costume in a lot of plays. It was the wedding dress when I played Olivia in Twelfth Night. It was my party dress as Isabelle in Ring Round the Moon. It was my ballgown when I played Cinderella. I sang choir solos in it, and wore it to a Regency dance at a Science Fiction convention.
Ring Round the Moon was my favorite. Here’s a pic of me and classmate Randi Driscoll just before our cat fight:
And this is another, in an Irving Berlin music revue. A gym-class jump-roping accident (seriously) just days before fractured one ankle and sprained the other, so I sang “Let’s Take an Old Fashioned Walk” from a wheelchair:
Dressing up can be the most fun in the world! What’s your favorite costume memory? (And, anyone else ever been put in a wheelchair by a jumprope??)