October 16, 2013
Sepia Saturday #199: Before there was "Cosplay", there was ... my mother's dressing gown.
In 1965, my mom got this very flashy, salmon-silk kimono-style dressing gown for Christmas. From the very beginning I coveted it, because it was so shiny and pretty and had these delicate little coiled satin-loops that fastened all the way down. Thanks to the Great and Powerful Google, I now know these are called Chinese Frog-fasteners. As you can see from the first photo, I was far too short to wear it then; it would have drowned me. I had to be content to stroke the shiny material, toggle the frogs and bide my time.
Fast-forward to 1970, and I am now 9 years old. It's Hallowe'en and I have jumped at the chance to be a Chinese lady. Okay, so I had no idea that kimonos were actually Japanese, but I knew that I could wear the beautiful silk dressing gown for my costume, and that's what I did. Gosh! Who invented those horrid plastic masks with the snappy elastic that got caught under your nose, tangled in your hair, or engraved a permanent mark atop your ears?
Notice, how I got to carry a rickety old apple basket to collect my Hallowe'en loot? I'm sure my father thought that made my costume authentic. My sister, "Little Red Riding Hood" got a nice big, shiny plastic pumpkin. You can just make out that Unicef box on the floor at my feet ( in my oh-so-Asian, "Keds").
Fast-forward about 10 years or so, when I appropriated the now very-worn dressing gown for my own. The frogs were not very sprightly, the edges of the robe were thread-bare and dangled with strays, the side-slits had been torn just a bit higher. I was going for the somewhat trashy look of a cheap starlet - think of Rene Zellweger in "Chicago", or Jennifer Jason-Leigh in "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle". I fancied myself a bit sexy, if not slatternly. I liked the fact that the dressing gown folded up easily and was readily tucked into my bag if I went to stay with a flannel-nightied friend. ;-)
I wish I had a picture to show you of the aftermath of a night of dancng to 80s music at a club—my hair teased, over-sprayed and smelling of smoke. I'd quickly change into my pajamas and that dressing gown, and more than likely, I'd stand in front of the open fridge and pick with a fork at mom's leftovers. (Not, by the way, with chopsticks - never have managed to get the hang of them!). Dancing gives a girl an appetite, let me tell you.
These days, you can find me much less fashionable in my night attire: I favour tee shirts with flannel pajamas and a Snoopy house-coat. Somehow, my man still finds that attractive, but you know, I can still remember exactly how it felt to slip into that luxurious silk robe. (If you're reading this, Honey, Christmas is just around the corner!)
Visit the Sepia Saturday blog by clicking the image below, where you will no doubt find wondrous tales of costumery.