Of gloves, tiaras, tulle and satin

If you think Barrie’s not a small town, just go looking for a prom dress.

With a “live-locally, shop locally” philosophy, Kid Two and I headed out to look for that magical wonderment, that series of filaments that is the highlight of high school, the prom dress. For any mother who remembers fondly her own garment of satin, or peau de soie, or crepe, or silk, this is a bonding moment with a daughter. Even a feminist mother and a what’s-feminism? daughter.

So, it was with anticipation that we headed out to enjoy the ooh’s and aah’s, the contemplation of style and size, the trying on and swirling, the laughing at styles that don’t match the body. It’s a right of passage, a time to come together over what will become a shared memory, a common link between one generation and the next.

One’s high school prom embodies so much more than just the dance, doesn’t it? After all, it’s the celebration of friendships, the highlight of the last part of one’s at-home education. And depending on social circumstances, the prom can also be the cap ‘n gown of a dating relationship that may have started in grade 10, or a month before the event itself.

Anyway, I digress. When you stand in a dress shop and contemplate 15 or 20 copies of exactly the same dress, same colour, different sizes, different colours, same sizes… it doesn’t take long before the logical question is posed to the sales clerk. And, we posed this question in every single store… do you have a registry?

A what? A registry. You know, a list of which high school which dress is going to. An attempt to guarantee that the buyer of the gown isn’t going to come upon herself repeatedly at the biggest social event of her high school career. You know, that moment when you slip into the washroom only to discover yourself applying ‘touch ups’ at the next sink, the only difference being your corsage.

It seemed a logical question to me. To sales clerks, every one, it was a question from another planet. Why on earth would we do that?

Duh! Why? So we won’t have to go to Toronto. Or Detroit. Or Buffalo. Or Michigan. I don’t know. So we can shop locally…

I digress.

The styles this year are fantastic. Sleek. Satin. Backless. Little straps. Details that celebrate young skin. Peach. Aqua. Crimson. Sapphire. Black. Cream. Crinolines. Lace. Gloves! At the Toronto Queen Street store which captured almost an entire day, the full length gloves were offered in absolutely every colour the rainbow could provide. Boas. Tiaras. The entire array of prom possibilities awaited us. And, joy to the world, they provided a sofa for the patient, supportive, silent mom.

Alex, our host for the day, could not have been more accommodating. We sat side by side, watching tiny feet out the bottom of the change room curtain as Kid Two and friend, whom I’ll call LA, giggled, slipping out of their jeans and clogs. Alex and I watched the six inches between curtain hem and floor as one colour went on and came off. Moans came from the change room. Then laughter.

It was a delightful day, watching one’s offspring finally emerge in a very adult gown, carrying off the glamour that the gown requires.

There was so much choice, so much beauty, such elegance.

And while I thought that Kid Two and LA looked absolutely fabulous in at least four of the gowns, the perfect item has yet to be found.

For me, that’s wonderful. Sharing this time, laughing, remembering, and anticipating. Like first steps, like first haircut, like first day of school, it’s one of those moments that I’ll tuck into memory forever.

Thanks, Kid Two. Thanks, LA. Thanks, Alex.