I’m getting started using the fancypants scanner that Jon got me for Christmas, and as I’m combing thru all the old family photos, I am realizing that I have all the makings for a new blog feature: Katie’s historical gallery of regrettable fashion choices…otherwise known as “Go Fug Myself” ( in homage to one of my favorite blogs in the unverse)
First up: the formal dress review
In this first photo you see here, taken during my junior year of high school (1984), I look as if I’d chosen a dress that would scream “virginal” to such a degree that perhaps my parents would chain me to a rock and wait for some lusty sea creature to carry me away. Or maybe I thought the prom that year might involve me being carried to the top of a volcano in Peru for bloody sacrifice.
I actually loved this dress, which was the most expensive item of clothing I’d ever owned at that point. My grandmother (who generously bought most of my nicer clothes in high school and college) took me to a boutique in Green Hills that I think was called Grace’s to pick up this little number. We bought it when I was asked to the MBA prom that year, but it did double duty when I wore it again to the Webb prom. Note the kid gloves on my wee, virginal hands. I recall that the gloves were very tight and uncomfortable, and by the end of the night, they smelled like sweaty beer.
One interesting note about this dress is that my date to the aforementioned MBA prom came from this old-money Belle Meade family, and I spent the weekend with them for the big event. They lived in this giant, columned, antebellum home that had been in their family for 100 years, and their very quirky 90 year old grandmother lived with them. She was a true souther eccentric, and when I came downstairs in this dress to meet my date in their front hall, she went on and on about how much she loved my dress, and she then announced that she had JUST the accessory that would finish it off perfectly. So she scurried off to retrieve what I assumed would be a string of pearls or something. When she returned, she was carrying a vintage, black silk men’s tophat – an extremely tall one. She insisted that I put it on, and then she insisted that my date’s mother take some photos of me wearing it…with this dress. And then my date and I left the house, arm in arm, with me wearing the tophat. I found this both unsettling and hilarious, but he clearly wanted me to do whatever made “Nana” happy, so I did. I drew the line, however, at continuing to wear the tophat after we were off the premises.
That evening ended with some golf cart races on the grounds of Belle Meade Country Club.
That was the first (but not the last!) date I ever had where at some point during the night I had the sudden revelation in which I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure this dude is gay.”
Now, of course, I’d give anything to have a photo of me wearing that tophat with this dress.
The fella in the lower photo was one of my dearest high school pals (he is NOT the presumed-gay MBA date guy! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…). We went to the Webb prom that year as friends, and we had a great time. I was rolling my eyes because my parents would not stop snapping photos.
In the next photo, dated 1986, you see me with a friend and her little sister. I was visiting her family in Annapolis that weekend, and we both had dates to a dance at The Naval Academy, where my sometimes-boyfriend was a student (I think they are called something else…cadets? Sailors? I dunno. All I know is that I felt sorry for the girl students who had to come to the dance in these horrible outfits that were apparently supposed to be a cross between a formal dress and a formal uniform.)
But anyway, back to my dress. I had borrowed this one from a friend for the weekend, and I thought I looked quite chic because it was strapless, showed a little cleavage, and had that satiny shirring on the top. The hot pink and black screamed “I’m an adult now! Notice me!.” I was feeling pretty confident and dare I say it? – sexy that night.
What I apparently failed to realize at the time was that some sort of giant, pink, winged insect had taken up permanent and wildly unflattering residence on my hip, detracting from the hot, young sophisticate image I was attempting to project. I suspect people were actually repulsed when they saw me approaching with that huge, frightening, mutant bug protruding from my right side, but being (future) officers and gentlemen, they were too polite to say anything to me about it.
I’m also not sure where I got the nutty idea that I could rock the iconic Dorothy Hamill haircut about ten years after everyone else on the planet was finished with it….
But anyway, as I recall, the dance was quite tame, but the afterparty down on some of the Academy’s docked sailboats was not.
I have a few more of these to add later….