Saturday, October 24, 2009


When I reflect back on my life, my career path seems less a departure from my norm and more and more the inevitable conclusion to draw. I have always been interested in fashion- even from a very young age. The thing is, I think my interest in clothes and style was continually overshadowed by other things, particularly my weekly piano lessons. According to everyone I knew, I was "so talented." Everything revolved around how well I played the piano. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 years old and I continued right through college, majoring in music with piano as my concentration. I even went on to work as a music teacher and professional musician for years. I still freelance every now and then. Just a week ago I was in the studio recording some really silly songs for a coworker's album she's making. But when I think back on all the accolades and rewards I received for my performance as a pianist over the years, what always seems to come back to mind is the bubble dress I asked for for my annual piano recital. I couldn't tell you what I played at that recital, but I remember every detail of my outfit- the taffeta dress, the string of faux pearls, the white tights and new white shoes purchased to match- all of it is as clear in my memory as it was the day I wore it.

Bubble dresses and skirts have made a serious come-back over the last couple of years, I think mostly due to the 80's fashion revival we're currently experiencing. I don't remember exactly how old I was when I asked for the bubble dress. I only remember being told that I could have a reward for doing well in my piano lessons. (I'm sure there was a specific goal, but I can hardly recall what it was.) Anyway, my mom said I could have a reward and asked what I wanted. My response: a mint-green bubble dress. Unfortunately for my mom, no stores around carried what I wanted, so she went to the fabric store, bought a pattern and some polyester taffeta in mint green. And then she labored over that dress for what felt like months. I have no idea how long it actually took her. I only know that she struggled and at some point nearly ripped it to shreds. The fabric was slippery and difficult to work with and my mom, though an accomplished quilter, was not incredibly experienced in sewing garments. Lucky for me, she persevered and in the end, I had my beautiful bubble dress that I had always dreamed of:

Poofy sleeves like Anne of Green Gables completed my fabulous party dress. I think my mom did a spectacular job. I remember wearing it to my recital that year and pretty much any other occassion I deemed appropriate. I'm sure there were countless times when I wanted to wear it and my mom said, "No." I'm sure I managed to wear it to church, to school, to my recital, to a friend's recital, out to dinner with the family, Easter Sunday- anywhere I could. Here's a bit of evidence:

The first photo is of me and my mom's friend Cindy on the way to HER piano recital. I eventually ended up taking piano lessons with her teacher- Mrs. Noonan, but I digress. (Mrs. Noonan deserves a post all her own- she wore the most glamorous gowns for our recitals. We're talking over-the-top beaded, floor length, ultra-glam. No one could out-do her, not even Cindy in 25 yards of tulle and lace.) The second photo is my third (or fourth?) grade school photo. Don't you just love the glasses? If you look closely in the school photo, you can see that the fabric color was chosen to match the color of my eyes. To this day, my eyes are what draw the most compliments from people I meet. I got them from my grandmother and I think they're my best feature.

Although this bubble dress was my favorite childhood outfit and will always remain so, I did have a favorite outfit a few years prior in first grade. Of course, once the bubble dress came into my life, it was quickly forgotten, but this school photo has forever preserved its memory:

I remember being so completely in love with that green corduory jumper and pink shirt. I was so happy I got to wear it on picture day. I also love that I have no front teeth in this picture. Damn, I was cute!

Of course, I wasn't always so fashionable:

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