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.





22 comments:

  1. Maybe Santa is reading this and will bring you a silk robe.

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    1. If he isn't, I'll have to point it out to him!

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  2. What wonderful memories. Do I ever remember those awful masks! I love the kimono living through various changes in your life. Like you, I've long since reached the flannel pajama stage and it's never cold enough here for an actual house coat. Just as an aside, did you call out "Haloween Apples" when you went around to houses or did you yell "Trick or Treat"? A very enjoyable post.

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    1. They were awful, weren't they? And you couldn't even breathe behind them and they got all sweaty. Yuck!

      I think it was always the standard, "Trick or Treat", with "Smell my feet" thrown in once in a while. :-)

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  3. A great fun story of a dressing gown! I enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Very glad you enjoyed it, ScotSue. Thanks.

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  4. Love the story and the photos.

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  5. Delightful read. Hoping Santa comes through for you!

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    1. Thank you, Sue. Oh, he might with a bit of a nudge.

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  6. Neat post. With my Mom it wasn't a kimono that I longed to wear, but a black dressy dress flocked with gold. She looked so dressed up in it & I wanted so badly to wear it, but I was only 14 when she first had it & it was much too sophisticated for a 14 year old even though I could almost fit into it. But when I was 18 & the Christmas prom was coming up, she let me wear it. Funny thing - Mom was only 5'1" tall & I was 5'7" but that dress fit both of us perfectly - just a tad shorter for me, but that was the style then!

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  7. So where is a photograph of you in the dressing gown once you had claimed it as your own??

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  8. That dressing gown certainly has wonderful stories associated with it! Isn't imagination a great thing?

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  9. I can't believe your Mom surrendered her lovely dressing gown to be used as a kimono! Oh yes I can actually; I've done similar things myself. I enjoyed this story.

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  10. A great story about the way certain items of clothing can have the special power to spark memory and nostalgia. Is the gown tucked away in some scrap box of old fabric?

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  11. Enjoyed your story Kat, and you're lucky to have the photo to prove it :)

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  12. Great story. You made me chuckle with your dressing gown tale. I remember a shawl of my mothers that I coveted - but never got as by then it was old and tacky.

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  13. I'm with you in the flannels and t shirt tops, comfy attire right after dinner dishes are into the dihwasher & ready to retire to lounge for the night. This was a fun tale of the silk through the ages, and yes, those masks....seems my hair was always tangled into it, ouch, just thinking about it. Frog clasps, that's what they were. Fun reading and thinking about those days when a silky shiny brocade would have appealed to me too.

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  14. We are seeing so many different places, so many different customs. And they are all very enjoyable.

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  15. Santa knows and sees all, (hehehe) so I'm thinking if you're a good little girl.....

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  16. I cant help thinking Santa's suite should be made out of Silk too! 'would help him slide down the chimney much faster!

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  17. That coat would actually be Chinese, not Japanese, so you were right on target for Halloween. I remember when the movie Suzie Wong came out and I was living in Hawaii. No matter your age, if you were female you had a Suzie Wong dress which often came with those same fasteners.

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