Skirts and Giggles

Objets prisés: The Nirvana Dress by Alison

Every kid has a magic outfit: that one piece of clothing you would wear every day without washing if your mom would let you. That one item that, when you put it on, you become exactly who you want to be. A ratty pyjama top. A jumper that grandma made you. A lucky pair of socks with musical notes on them.

Mine was the Nirvana dress. The Nirvana dress was the best. It was the most comfortable thing you could wear. It was made of soft sweatshirt material, but the skirt could twirl. It had pink and grey and blue stripes. You could do anything in a Nirvana dress.

The first Nirvana dress was given to me by my babysitter at the time, a woman named Nirvana who ran a daycare out of her house where I first learned about the wonders of Kraft Dinner and broke my mother’s heart when I came home demanding KD over her lovingly home-made cheese sauce. At the age of four, I had already internalized gender stereotypes regarding clothes, and was overly concerned that I never be mistaken for a boy. Obviously, the only way to do this was to wear a skirt. So the Nirvana dress was perfect: feminine enough to satisfy my girly demands, yet comfortable and practical enough to play in properly.
The Nirvana Dress

This is a later incarnation of the Nirvana Dress, but this is the one in my mind’s eye (I’m about 7 or 8 here). When I wore out the first one (which was grey with pink and orange hearts all over it), my mom replaced it (first with a blue and grey dress, then with this one), but the sweatshirt dresses were always called Nirvana dresses until, eventually, I outgrew them entirely.

Until 20 years later. When, while shopping at the Fall Clothing Show, something caught my eye at the Wonderlust booth. It had pink and grey stripes. It was made of very soft sweater material. It was cozy and playful and sexy all at once. I had found the grown-up version of the Nirvana dress.
The grown-up Nirvana dress

I’ve worn the new Nirvana dress all sorts of lovely places (usually paired with interesting tights and red boots and my favourite pearl necklace), but here is the best thing that’s ever happened to me while wearing it: I was on the subway, sitting down so that my coat covered the bottom of the dress so that I looked, well, pantsless. A 2-year-old boy was standing beside me, about eye-level with my bare knees. He pointed at my legs and gleefully exclaimed “NO PANTS!”, staring up at me like I was his new fashion hero.

Hey, here’s a bonus reason I might be so drawn to a good sweater dress: Check out what my mom wore while pregnant with me:

Mom's pregnancy sweater dress


1 Comment so far
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Ah, Ali. You are endlessly girly and I love you for it. I think you need to give me lessons, or something.

Comment by Amelia

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