Friday, July 20, 2007

My Dream Dress

I promise I will get to some more meaty material in the future. My clothes are such a big part of me however. Like any woman, they reflect your personality and mood. The choices in color, material, and cut are limitless. From casual to formal, women's fashions really give the wearer a greater opportunity to express themselves.

The ultimate expression in an outfit may be one that is custom made for you. You don't buy it off the rack in a department store or from leftovers at a yard sale. It can be completely unique, and it is made with you in mind. This is the dress I am having custom made for me:

Now you may be asking... isn't this dress a bit impractical? Yes, it is completely impractical! This dress is in the neighbourhood of 150 years old. You don't see women at Wal-Mart wearing these much less at more formal gatherings. In fact, the only place one can see something similar is at Civil War reenactments or other similar historical tours. And I love it!

I've been in love with this dress and this picture since a fairly young age (probably around age eight). This picture is from volume 4 (Ci to Cz) of the World Book Encyclopedia 50th Anniversary Edition in 1967. The entry under "Clothing" had a wonderful color spread of artists renderings of fashions through the ages. My grandparents had a full set of these encyclopedias, and I was in love with this picture.

Even at that young age, I knew I was more intrigued with the women's fashions of yesteryear than the men's. I would sneak this volume up into my bedroom every night. Several dresses caught my attention, but I always came back to the one in the above picture. I had no idea at the time about the parts of the dress or what was underneath like the hoop skirt. I just wanted to wear the dress and know how it felt to wear it. I even started having dreams about meeting this women and begging her to dress me. No, this did not lead to any fantasies of forced feminization, but that was the only way I could picture it at that age.

As I grew into my teen years and older, the thoughts of crossdressing faded away as I tried to repress my feminine thoughts. I would still check out that volume from time to time to keep the image fresh in my mind. At some point, the encyclopedias were taken out for a newer edition. By that time, it didn't seem to matter as I was living on my own and spending less time at my grandparents house. When I started going out in 1998 and finding formal dresses for the first time, I felt like I had found heaven on earth.

Fast forward to 2007. Now a History Channel geek for a few years, I now knew how and why the skirts on Civil War era dresses were shaped that way. Having recently bought several expensive dresses that fulfilled longtime desires (the debutante dress, a wedding dress, and the strapless pink gown), I decided to try to look into finding the Civil War dress once again. Not finding the picture online, I logged onto eBay and was able to order the exact volume of the World Book Encyclopedia for a mere $8. I eagerly awaited its arrival. It was like an old friend returning home, and I didn't have to hide it this time. The picture was there just like I remembered it.

After scanning the page so I would never ever lose it again, it was time to contact someone to make the dress. I wrestled with the thought of presenting myself as a real woman versus a male crossdresser. However, in a moment of either incredible courage or stupidity, I wrote Heather (aka the Very Merry Seamstress) as my male self. Having read her blog, The Daily Stitch, she seemed like an open minded person, and I really liked her work. I was a little bit apprehensive. I wrote the following email:


I am interested in information about having a dress made for myself. I am a male crossdresser with an interest in women's Civil War costumes. I have a picture from an encyclopedia that I have always liked that I need to have scanned. I wanted to see if this would be a good starting point for making the dress.

Thank you, and I enjoy your website very much!

She wrote back:

****, sure! Send us what you have and we'll be happy to do an estimate.

Much like my experience at the bridal shop, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. In future emails, Heather even said she looked forward to working with me. While I know any good business will accept our money, I am still very thankful for the kindness and understanding shown to us special girls. I placed an order with her, and I should have the dress by the end of August. Yes, yes, pictures will follow!

My next goal is to find a way to wear this dress in public at some sort of historical function. I would love to give a tour of some of the old mansions dressed as a beautiful southern belle. I have no idea how this would go over, but I do have a strong interest in all types of history. This is not for the thrill of wearing the dress in public. I want to do a real tour and represent living history for an audience. If it's anything like my past endeavors, I am sure I will find a way.


Heather said...

Thank you so much for your VERY kind words - we're delighted to be working with you, Stephanie! We've actually worked with several crossdressers over the years, and we adore each and every one of you! :-)

We don't want anyone to pretend they are someone they are not - we're so glad you told us about you. And you're right - you ARE special girls and I'm very honored to be working with you.

I hope you will come back again after we finish this dress. You're an absolute delight to work with!

Stephanie Marie said...

It's nice to know there are other renaissance gals and southern belles out there in beautiful costumes. It means so much to be treated with courtesy and professionalism the whole way through. I think as more crossdressers choose to venture out and spend on their female sides, many businesses will become more aware of us and our needs. You're already a step ahead in that regard.

Lady Kate said...

Oh Steph it is going to be amazing :) Now I have to have a picture of you in this :)You are truly a "Southern Girl" at heart:)I have just the mission for this dress he he he :)

Ms Kate :)