Vintage. Size 8. Worn three times in 1992.
I wore the dress for the first time at a Meeting Planners International (Ottawa Chapter) Gala. I won “Planner of the Year”, for which I received a plaque. Now when I hear the word plaque I think gum disease and heart attack but back then it meant achievement. I was good at a job that, among other things, demanded good feet. Back then when scouting a location for a 1200 delegate conference and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, I walked every inch of too many hotel function rooms and concrete floored trade show halls – in stilettos. I tromped service corridors and loading bays. I hoofed the cobblestone streets of old Montreal surrounding the Montreal Convention Centre. I pounded the paved cruise ship docks beside the Vancouver Convention Centre and marched up and down Halifax’s hills to and from the harbour and up to the Citadel because back then there was no Google Earth or Mapquest to help situate the convention site within a city. I had to see it for myself. In stilletos. Because. Fashion.
I purchased the dress in a shop in L’Esplanade Laurier in Ottawa, long since gone. The Québecoise saleslady knew me. “Bonjour, Madame FletCHER. I ‘ave something to show you.” Yes, I was that kind of customer. I can’t tell you how much I paid. It was bought on the layaway plan and a fair chunk of my paycheck went into owning it bit by bit. My husband would have killed me then – and maybe even now – if he knew how much it cost. He’d say “I could have bought a bike!”
Yes, this tells you a lot about me. Judge away. I’ve made my peace with these facts:
- I was/am/probably will always be a peacock.
- I was/am/probably will always be too concerned with sparkle. It hides much.
- I was/am/probably will always be eager for attention though nowadays I don’t look for it in tight fitting garments with sequin appliqués. I blog instead. Same diff, right?
- I am/was/probably will always be a fan of red anything but especially red shoes. Red has always been my black. I wanted a red wedding dress but my conservative Catholic mother-in-law kiboshed the idea.
My husband, the Hawaiian shirt-wearing, athleisure wear loving man long before these were things, rented a vintage tux and wore an orange and black bow tie, chosen because these are the colours of Princeton University. Let’s just say we had pretensions. Or, looked at another way, we were both masters of disguise which worked well for the event’s theme – a masked ball.
I think the dress served its purpose and I had a ball. I gave an acceptance speech in a room crowded with masked guests. I sincerely thanked my husband for supporting my career – a job that required too much travel and too much schmoozing with glib sales people pitching their fine-dining restaurants, their empty ballrooms, their flawless check-in process. They talked and talked and talked and talked. Back then I didn’t know I was an introvert. I would come home from site inspections and conferences grumpy as a canker and retreat to the backyard with a beer and a book and doze away the weekend. My husband said “Everyone gets your best except me.” He was right.
We spent the night compliments of the very swanky hotel at which the gala was held because I was an award-winning, plaque-holding event organizer. What did I do? I continued celebrating with three salespeople into the wee small hours while my husband didn’t sleep worrying in the football field sized bed back at the hotel. No cell phones in 1992. When I rolled in at 3:00 a.m. we fought rather than having lavish hotel sex and leaving behind wet spots instead of an anger filled room and towels damp with my fretting whether our marriage would survive my career.
Fortunately, our children came to the rescue. Nothing like the arrival of a child to hone your decision making. I left event planning and hung the red dress in a garment bag. I stored it in the basement, under the stairs where it has been until today. Its yours if you want it. Vintage. Size 8. No strings attached. Plaque not included.