This week’s prompt is: It’s A Formal Affair
What were your special clothes like? Did you get your hair done for the occasions? Was a mani-pedi part of the process? Were you instructed on how to behave? Did you have any input on the formal attire? Did you feel comfortable in your special outfit?
Please feel free to write about as many of the occasions you’d like to share. Pictures would be an awesome addition.
* A wedding – either as a member of the wedding party or as a guest
* A Baptism, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or Some Other Religious Ceremony
* A funeral
* A formal dinner party
* A Night at the Theater, the Ballet, or the Opera
* High School Prom and/or Formal School Dance
Naturally when I was a little girl mum chose what I would wear. I think that she liked having little girls to dress up because at one stage when I was three or four, I had three party dresses. They had overskirts of some stiff material, maybe it was organza, with embossed designs. One was pink, and I remember Naomi wearing this when I grew out of it. Another was a very pale green and one was mauve. I didn’t actually wear them all that much because we didn’t go to parties. I don’t ever remember going to a children’s birthday party when I was small. We did go to a Christmas party given by the Ford factory in Dagenham where our father worked and I am pretty sure I wore one that day. Sadly, there are no photos of those pretty dresses. Mum liked to dress us up if we were going out for the day. We had matching knitted twinsets in royal blue, a cardigan and a pleated skirt. We had “duster coats” for summer which I think were made of cotton or linen. Mum had one too and we’d wear them for outings. She even bought Naomi and I straw bonnets to wear with them. I hated the bonnet and I think I only wore it once or twice. Naomi was too little to get out of wearing it. My favourite outfit from those days was a little tartan suit, a pleated skirt and a little jacket. I grew out of it quickly though and it was passed to Naomi. She was still wearing the skirt when she was ten although the jacket no longer fit.
We were expected to be well behaved at all times when we were out so I don’t recall being given any special instructions before a special occasion. We knew to say please and thank you and not to interrupt the adults when they were talking.
I left school at fifteen and once I had my own money, I bought my clothes myself. Mum usually did give me a choice when she was buying them but occasionally, she would buy me something as a surprise. I remember once she bought me a lemon-yellow dress which was very nice and I did wear it a few times but I don’t really wear large amounts of yellow or orange because I don’t feel those colours suit me as well as red, green, blue or purple. I didn’t go to our school’s formal dance. I wasn’t interested in boys at that age and was too socially awkward to want to go to anything like that.
Fast forward to my late teens when I first met David. We were going on dates so I needed some nice dresses. It was the mid-seventies and there was a lot of velour around. I bought my first long dress; it was dark blue with a deep scoop neck and long sleeves. I think it was velour or something similar. I wore it out to dinner a couple of times but I was never completely comfortable in a long dress. Then I found a dress on sale that I absolutely fell in love with. It was just below knee length on me and a similar velvet like material. It was bright red with a deep V neck and three-quarter sleeves. I had that dress all through my twenties and thirties.
The photo above was taken the day David and I got married. I was twenty. Mum and I had gone shopping for wedding dresses but as we were not having a traditional wedding in a church, I didn’t feel that I needed to have a traditional wedding dress although we looked at some. I was shocked at how much they cost. I had some money but as David and I were paying for most of the wedding ourselves I didn’t want to go overboard on a dress that I would only wear once. In the end I found my dress in John Martin’s department store. It is not a wedding dress; it was in the evening wear department. I think it cost me about $25. I didn’t want a veil and opted for a hat although I would have happily gone without either. I probably went to the hairdresser in the week before the wedding, I don’t remember, but I didn’t get it done especially on the day or any professional makeup. I have always disliked the feel of makeup on my skin and wear as little as possible.
My style of dress as I grew up was smart casual rather than formal for special occasions. People did dress up more then to go to the theatre or even shopping in the city unlike today when it is acceptable go to the shops in your pajamas. If we were going to the theatre or out for a meal, I’d wear my “good” clothes. Dresses and skirts or more often in my later years a smart pair of black pants and a nice top. I really don’t like to wear dresses much now because if I wear a dress, I have to wear stockings/pantyhose, which I hate and can’t wear my favourite comfortable shoes.