the orange dress

See this dress?


There’s nothing terribly ground-breaking about this piece at first glance, but it has a good story. This dress has seen some stuff, lived some life and been through countless laundry cycles to make it back into regular rotation. It’s a survivor.

I bought this dress in March of 2008 at an H&M in Manhattan while on a trip to visit a college friend in Brooklyn. Despite its provenance (I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve had an H&M piece for HOW long?!”), this dress has held up through multiple washings, nights out, and cross-country moves and yet continues to stick around.

But this dress means far more to me than just a sartorial trophy. It serves as a physical reminder of where I’ve come from and the places I’ve been, both geographical and psychological. I remember taking this dress with me on a trip to Dallas the summer after I purchased it. I was there for a close friend’s wedding: it was my mid-twenties and certainly around the age when several of my friends were getting engaged and doing other adult things I couldn’t possibly conceive of. A meaningful relationship had ended for the last time earlier that year (what is it about our twenties that make us think we need to keep plugging at a dead-end relationship and not just move on?) and I was sullen and raw. But summer has a way of showing the light, literally, and basking in the sun and staying out well into the night were my prime objectives.

dress2008The dress with cocktail, 2008.

As time passed, my wardrobe evolved. As someone who invites change into her life on a fairly regular basis, my closet is somewhat of a revolving door. Things come in, things go out, and I’m on to the next look. I’m always on the hunt for The Perfect ______, whether it’s a dress for a specific event, an addition to my kooky shoe collection, or an interview outfit. The thing is, I didn’t intend to even keep this dress for very long. It just something that’s endured, despite all probable odds.

Looking through my closet, I don’t have anything else as old, or as well-traveled, as this dress. It’s been on vacations, through several moves, gotten a few compliments, and although it’s come close to being sold or donated, I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it. My weight has fluctuated by 20 pounds or so in the last eight years, and the blousy, forgiving shape of the dress has accommodated these ups and downs. It’s an orange mainstay, this thing.

dress2010The dress with friends, 2010.

dress2012The dress with history, 2012. 

This dress will stick with me for as long as I can wear it: it’s a fast-fashion piece over eight years old with no signs of slowing, and I love that I have this physical reminder of my personal history. Time has a way of slowly erasing the past, and I know there are things that happened while I was wearing this dress that I just can’t remember. (Some I probably don’t want to remember.) The vibrant orange color of the dress has gradually faded over the years, much like my memory of the good and bad times I had while wearing it. But it’s still standing, and so am I.

When it comes to material objects, I can’t think of anything else I own that better represents my personal evolution, both physically and mentally. What’s your “old standby” in your closet that’s seen you through more of life than any other piece?

2 thoughts on “the orange dress

  1. Robyn

    LOVE this post gurl! I even remember that dress! You have been a beauty in it all the years!
    I have my Monday shirt which I wear to work almost EVERY Monday! Its comfortable and easy. I feel it is a good transition way of getting into my work week. I’m SURE my coworkers would LOVE for me to retire my Monday shirt but I don’t see that happening until the shirt is thread bare!


    1. Liz

      Thank you! I figured you might remember it: it’s been a mainstay for years now. And I love the “Monday shirt” idea: anything that gets us through that dreaded weekday start, amiright?!


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