This past week I drew a lady in front of her full-length mirror proudly wearing an orange dress. She’s taking a picture in the mirror to show how great the garment looks on her body; her basic ‘house clothes’ (tank top, shorts, socks) are thrown on the floor in a careless heap. It’s all about getting that awesome mirror selfie. I thought it was relatable. What young lady doesn’t want a great selfie in a great new dress? Take those 48 pics, girl, before you find that juuust right angle! Woo!
The description: Mirror selfie caption: “I said ‘yes’ to the dress. 🧡“
I wanted to draw and write about this one because it reminds me of a certain time in my life. It was a time I didn’t say yes to the damn dress. It was that perfect orange color, too. (Orange is my favorite color; it’s just fun, offbeat, and stands out in the crowd – but I digress.)
I was in my early 20s, living in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was seriously broke at the time. I’d quit an awful job and barely scraped by by doing temp work throughout the city. It was a great ‘growth’ experience, but man, I racked up some credit card debt. I’d lost a lot of weight, too, perhaps due to the severe stress of aforementioned awful job, but I think it was also natural – like, finally all of my baby fat fell off of me. I’m not sure, but I was 22 years old and going through a unique time. It was hard – I felt empowered by leaving a terrible situation that wasn't worth the paycheck and managing to get some work that kept me afloat, and I wanted to celebrate that, but I didn’t have enough money to do things besides pay bills. I needed a haircut, new clothes (everything I owned was suddenly baggy on me), sturdy boots for a cold New England winter, a nice purse or work bag to bring on job interviews... and, of course, groceries. That credit card went swipe, swipe, swipe.
One day, my broke 22 year-old self said "F it! I’m going shopping!" It's funny how when you're broke, you really yearn for luxurious things... while I do love beautiful jewelry and clothing, now when I’m not broke, I have less materialistic things I yearn for. I just wanted to be able to participate in capitalism and enter the realm of luxury that I avoided so much. I walked right in to Anthropologie on Newbury Street and a sales associate abruptly told me, “We’re closing in 40 minutes.” Okay, onward! 40 minutes of (window) shopping bliss! It was a treat to myself.
That’s when I found the orange dress. It didn’t take me long to; it was in the Sale section downstairs, and it was the ONLY ONE. Of course.
Went into that dressing room with a huge mirror in my private changing stall, and voila – it looked wonderful on me. It fit like a glove and was the PERFECT ORANGE. There was a small rip in the side zipper region, so I was bummed about that, but what bummed me out even more was the price. I don’t remember what it was, but I couldn’t afford it. Also, the dress was no cotton, everyday shift – it had deep pleats, a circle-shaped brocade design, and a thick band at the waist that tied with long ribbons at the back. It was fancy, too nice for work, and I couldn’t justify the purchase.
I did take selfies in it, though. My favorite kind – the mirror selfie! (I personally hate how I look on the flip camera. All Sarah Jessica Parker chin. I avoid those selfies.) I posed in that dress as if I was gonna buy it. I even posted pictures of me wearing it on Instagram, and my notifications were flooded with heart eyes and compliments (love me some genuine compliments). One comment said something like, “Buy it.” Sadly, my bank account disagreed.
Looking back, I really should have bought the dress, because the bills and debt I incurred in my early 20s are long gone. I’d probably still have the dress, though.
I didn’t get the dress that felt meant for me, but it sure felt good to put it on. I took pictures in it for old time’s sake because it made me feel cute and amazing. Like a way better version of me, a successful Anna that could treat herself. For me, it’s not about the brand or price or even other people. It’s about feeling good inside and out. For a young woman tryna blossom and flourish, it’s important to have what’s on the outside match what’s on the inside. In my life, whenever that’s aligned, I feel happiest & that I’m at my best.
Say yes to the dress. I wish I did.