Perfect Dress

It amazes me when I look at stylish dresses and how they change from decade to decade. In particular, I decided to look at prom dresses:

Here is a recent prom dress :


Here’s a prom photo from the 1990’s:



and here’s what a prom dress looked like in the 1950’s:1950s-formal-dress-prom-gown-316x500

When I saw this prompt, the first thing I thought about was this marvelous poem by Marisa de los Santos:

Perfect Dress 

It’s here in a student’s journal, a blue confession

in smudged, erasable ink: “I can’t stop hoping

I’ll wake up, suddenly beautiful,” and isn’t it strange

how we want it, despite all we know? To be at last


the girl in the photography, cobalt-eyed, hair puddling

like cognac, or the one stretched at the ocean’s edge,

curved and light-drenched, more like a beach than

the beach. I confess I have longed to stalk runways,


leggy, otherworldly as a mantis, to balance a head

like a Fabergé egg on the longest, most elegant neck.

Today in the checkout line, I saw a magazine

claiming to know “How to Find the Perfect Dress


for that Perfect Evening,” and I felt the old pull, flare

of the pilgrim’s twin flames, desire and faith. At fifteen,

I spent weeks at the search. Going from store to store,

hands thirsty for shine, I reached for polyester satin,


machine-made lace, petunia- and Easter egg-colored,

brilliant and flammable. Nothing haute about this

couture but my hopes for it, as I tugged it on

and waited for my one, true body to emerge.


(Picture the angel inside uncut marble, articulation

of wings and robes poised in expectation of release.)

What I wanted was ordinary miracle, the falling away

of everything wrong. Silly maybe or maybe


I was right, that there’s no limit to the ways eternity

suggests itself, that one day I’ll slip into it, say

floor-length plum charmeuse. Someone will murmur,

“She is sublime,” will be precisely right, and I will step,


with incandescent shoulders, into my perfect evening.


Marisa de los Santos



<a href=””>Stylish</a&gt;


<a href=””>Stylish</a&gt;


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