Sunday, March 18th would have been my brother Taylor's 50th birthday. He died in a car accident two weeks before 9/11. Oddly, there was an article in the NY Times Sunday about the cherry dress. The Woman's Exchange in St. Louis (my hometown) is where the dress originated and is still sold. My mother worked there as a young bride, waiting tables as part of her Junior League duties. She still tells hilarious stories about her inability to serve correctly according to the wishes of the demanding clientele, the same ladies she later met for cocktails. But she did shop there to outfit her children in the classic uniforms of elite baby-style. As a child of the 50's, I wore the adorable little dresses, hand smocked, piped collars and sleeve bands, exquisite lace details. My brothers suffered the button-on short pants, embroidered and smocked bubbles -- John John was not alone in his cherried frills.
Later we graduated to Lilly Pulitzer's snazzy tropical prints and summer shifts. Mother/daughter even. Later still, I turned my back on all that and embraced hippie-wear, bell-bottoms, halter tops, India print dresses...and embroidered motifs like snakes and flowers. But I circled around and I do love all those clothes again. I can still hear my mother saying, "Go ahead, wear that! Be somebody!" When the girls were little, we didn't have 2 nickels to rub together (hippies!), but my mother made sure that they had lovely dresses to wear. I still have Mo's cherry dress in the closet, Erin's navy dress smocked with red stitching, Maggie's crisp poplin sailor dress. When we moved to Chicago, I learned how to make my own. I smocked calico prints and hand sewed all their lace edgings. Baby clothes were the most fun to sew, especially when I made my own designs. I like to think that someday their babies will toddle around in those dresses and duds again. Or at least dress up a bear or two. Did I mention that I wasn't called by my real name, Charlotte, in those days? They called me Muffie. Now you know....one more glass of wine and I will press publish now. Some things never change. My mother would say...Yeah, baby! Cheers!
Happy birthday, Tay. with love, Muffie