The Dress That Started It All
Date: November, 1984.
Place: Georgetown University.
Ann: Our freshman dorm, New South, was hosting the first formal of our collegiate career.
Julie: It was the “Screw Your Roommate” dance. (The point was to set up your roommate with some guy she didn’t know, thereby “screwing” her if he was not a perfect match.)
Ann: It was very exciting, we all dressed up, and celebrated with groups of friends in our tiny dorm rooms. I can’t remember my date, but I remember what I wore: a classic, purple Laura Ashley dress.
Ann: Shown here in berry, I adored the poufy sleeves, the full, princess skirt and the deep V in the back.
Ann: Looking back on it now, it looks more like the dress a toddler might wear as a flower girl in a wedding. But, as a testament to the pervasive, conservative style of the 80s, I thought I was smoking hot.
Julie: It was the perfect thing to wear to a party in 1984! I fell in love with it as it was displayed in Laura Ashley on M Street in Georgetown and never forgot the feeling of whisking it out of the store as if I would be the only wearer of that dress, ever…anywhere. Well, until that evening.
Ann: My dorm room was located at the opposite end of the entrance to the building, so my date (who was it?) and I walked down the winding hall, stopping in at other parties along the way. We were nearly at the exit, when I passed yet another roomful of people and saw Julie. She was wearing the exact same purple Laura Ashley. We matched from our simple pearl necklace right down to our sheer pearl stockings and our black patent flats. Although she and I had never met before this moment, I laughed, and pointed out the obvious. She did not laugh. She didn’t even smile. I’m not sure that she even showed up to the formal. That was our first and last interaction during our entire freshman year.
Julie: I was speechless when you breezed by in the dress and am pretty sure I never made it to the dance. After I saw you in MY dress, it all went black and I’ve suppressed the rest of it.
Ann: But what initially drove us apart, ultimately brought us together. By senior year, we were inseparable friends, bonded by our interest in and love of fashion (and also by an enriching, but also sometimes-harrowing, year abroad in France. More about that later). Our treasured friendship has endured for 25 years, surviving many more fashion disasters, career changes, marriage and children, but it all really began with the purple Laura Ashley.
Julie: And, yes, I still have the dress.
Julie: I thought it so timeless that I requested of my mother — should I meet with an untimely death by bus-hitting — she should send me to my eternal peace in it. I try in on every few years to make sure it’s still a go.