As a big fan of pre-owned clothing, I was delighted to learn that this year’s ’49er Days junior royalty members are all wearing gowns previously worn by other queens and princesses. (See related article on page A6 for specifics.)
First of all, thinking globally, this is absolutely the right thing to do. There are already a lot of garments in the world — probably enough to clothe every human plus some of the Chiweenies for the rest of mammalian existence on this planet.
But second, re-wearing the handmade ’49er dresses is a tribute to the women who sewed them. Up until recently, all ’49er Days dresses were sewed painstakingly by hand, by some of the valley’s many competent seamstresses: Donna Martin, Marva Mountjoy, Becky Taylor and others. Wearing the dresses again confers not only a historic element into the event, but it also honors the many hours of labor, the yards of nice fabric, the thousands of stitches, and — quite likely — the errant curse word or two that was uttered in the making of said elaborate garments.
Some friends and I were recently talking about prom dresses: our own, and the ones our children were planning to wear to Saturday’s dance — the first formal school dance since COVID.
Daughters of the 1980s, we all understand the statement a big ol’ prom dress can make, especially when accompanied by 1980s hair. We also fundamentally grasp the changing tastes of fashion over the decades but secretly hoped that our kids, armed with 21st century sensibility about overconsumption and the impact of textile waste on the environment (not to mention human rights concerns about the garment industry), would at least entertain the notion of a “your mother’s prom dress” themed prom.
They would not. But, what they would do was to do something that (in my limited experience, at least, given that we’ve been in COVID for most of my kids’ high school years) I’ve been so impressed and grateful that Methow Valley youth are perfectly comfortable doing: sharing dresses.
In my older daughter’s high school years (of which only two have involved school dances due to COVID), I’ve witnessed the “reuse” ethic alive and well, evidenced by the number of different students who have worn a single dress to various dances. The only problem is, this pipeline requires the semi-regular purchasing of dresses by at least a couple of kids each year — something they haven’t had reason to do since early 2020. So prom 2022 was a bit of a no-woman’s land, since the selection of loaner dresses is pretty limited, given that the last of the “two formals per year” kids graduated in 2019.
Still, I know that prom 2022 hosted some pre-worn dresses from Goodwills throughout the Northwest, the Senior Center, the Thrifty Fox, and at least one local closet. I know that a couple of kids made their own dresses, and they are beautiful, well-fitting dresses. This was decidedly not their mother’s prom. No, like so many things Gen Z has made its own, it was much better.