Friday, July 30, 2010

Little house in the big woods

Dress: Arlene Airess, vintage, thrifted;
Belt: Ann Taylor Loft;
Shoes: Tayla platforms, Target.
Photos by me.

Sorry about the volume of photos, but I was so excited about this latest find that I had to try taking photos in all my favorite farm park locations. 

I wish I could claim that I've had this dress for 20 years, because it does look a bit like dresses I wore when I was little, and it looks especially like a certain one my mother made for me. But it does have a bit of a story behind it. I found this at the Salvation Army about two months ago. When I tried it on, I loved it, because it appealed to the seven-year-old in me who was obsessed with "Little House on the Prairie," because it looked exactly like something Laura would wear. I ultimately didn't get because I was afraid of many things: a) that the design infantilized me; b) and it was too costume-y I wouldn't have anywhere to wear it. I put it back on the rack and told myself that if it was there the next time I went on 50% Off Wednesday, I would get it, because it would mean thrift karma exists and that the dress was meant for me to have it. Silly, I know.

Well, guess what. It wasn't there the next time I went, nor the next four times. I moped, and considered myself stupid for believing in thrift karma. Over the next few weeks, I thought of the ways I could have worn it, if I had bought it. The Ingalls Wilder in me weeped.

And then this past Wednesday, I woke up early to be there for 50% Off Day and waited with a crowd as the doors opened. I made a beeline for the dresses, and within two minutes, I saw it. My prairie dress. How could it be? Did someone buy it and return it? Was it hiding in the children's section these last few weeks, only to be hung in its proper section on Wednesday of all days? I didn't care. We were reunited.

Taking it home was another story. As soon as Jeremiah saw it, he made a grimace. "Ehh, it's not my favorite. It's too much like a costume," he said. "How are you going to wear it?"

I have a few ways in my head to style it, but that's not the real point. I first rejected this dress because of how I thought others would perceive me in it, and then spent a few weeks moping about the lost find because it was something that I really liked. Much like everyone else in the style blogging community, I like having positive feedback from others for my sartorial decisions. But I don't want to become so dependent on it that I'm afraid to take my own risks.  

Maybe this dress does make me look like a little girl. Maybe it is too dated to wear. It's okay if my husband, sister or friends don't like it. I want to be confident and liberated enough to dress for myself. To wear this dress to the movies, to the grocery, to outdoor concerts and family reunions. To not deny the seven-year-old version of myself, but listen to her, and be happier that way.

Happy Friday,

signature1 by you.  

P.S. In case you were wondering, "On the Banks of Plum Creek" is my favorite "Little House" book. The Ingalls family lives inside a hill, which is so cool. And Laura gives bratty Nellie Oleson her comeuppance.


  1. How oh how do you manage to find these amazing thrifted dresses?

    I bet you have a superpower!

  2. I really like it, I think it is cute and feminine. You could always add a jacket over to "tone it down" a bit - but I think it is lovely like this. You do have amazing thrift luck.

  3. I actually really like the dress on you! The color is nice on your skin and the shape flatters your figure. Plus the lil white part almost looks like the dress is v-neck which makes it look less constricting and "prairie-like" haha. Nice find!

  4. This dress looks fantastic in photos, but when I look closer I think I see what Jeremiah is talking about (and what you are concerned about...) but I think the way you've styled it downplays the costume element. Actually, from the photos the white portion looks like you layered it yourself. I would probably pick this dress up myself, except for the sleeves. They're adorable, but not something I'd pick for me! But the color and shape is fantastic on you.

    My favorite was also "on the banks of plum creek" sooo awesome. I want to live in a hill.

  5. Just came across your blog for the first time thanks to a comment you left on someone's Friend Friday post. I love it! Can't wait to see more.
    - Katy

  6. Such a fun colorful dress. I can never find dresses at the thrift store. Help me!!

  7. i really like it! I think the costumey part is that little lace bit at the top, maybe you can alter the neckline? It's not bad though, it has character!

  8. Well, I for one, love the dress, and I'm glad that you (eventually) got it!

    These Happy Golden Years is my favorite. I probably read those books 50 times between the ages of five and ten.

  9. I like your prairie dress! And I think the most important thing is that you like what you wear - I bet it could be styled up and notlook so little girly, too. A belt and a blazer can be transforming.

    xoxo, Ashley


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