Why Southern Women Buy Easter Dresses
Let’s talk dotted Swiss, church hats, and patent leather Mary Janes.
Remember when we all got new Easter dresses for the Sunday service? (It’s among the Easter traditions we should bring back, along with hats and gloves. And shoes. Let's never forget new Easter shoes.)
The practice of buying new Easter clothes has deep roots, reaching all the way across the pond. There are references to it in English literature—including Romeo & Juliet. According to North Carolina’s WFMY News 2, some people have long believed that wearing new clothes on Easter brings good luck: “It’s like eating collard greens and black-eyed peas at New Year’s.”
Some sources cite the spring season of renewal as a reason we shop for something new at Eastertime. Then again, maybe we just like to present our very best selves on this special day of remembrance and celebration in the church.
We asked our Facebook Brain Trust if they had memories of particularly special Easter dresses. They most certainly did—from sailor hats to “girly dresses.” Two readers associated their Easter dresses with, of all things, a comeuppance. One got into trouble the day she wore her hot-pink Easter ensemble to school and forever after considered it tainted. Another let her cousin “play horse” using the untied bow of her Easter dress as reins. (The reins pulled completely off the dress, Mama found out, and you can guess what happened next. At least they got a good story out of it.)
Most Easter dress stories have happier endings. Read on for more—and be sure to share yours in comments.
“I had a blue-and-white sailor dress with a big ole red ribbon in my hair. Had my picture made and everything! Even had a good hair day! I was about 5 years old.”
“My grandmothers were both exceptionally fine seamstresses. When I was a teenager, my maternal grand created, for me, a powder-blue linen suit (jacket lined with powder-blue-and-white silk) and matching silk shell. Accessories were powder-blue faux alligator heels, matching purse, and white gloves. I felt as if I could walk proudly into Tiffany’s!
“I loved the dotted Swiss dresses. I always had a ‘duster’ (light coat to match the dress) and patent leather shoes.”
"I was 6 years old—red, white, and blue dress and coat. Sailor hat and navy-blue patent leather shoes. We bought it all in Huntsville, and Mom bought a crinoline slip to make it stand out! I was too cute!"
“When I was 6, my mother and I were walking past the local town square Diana Shop window, where I spied a pink lace, full-skirted, fluffy dress with a matching pink petticoat. I was smitten. I had a full-fledged meltdown until she agreed to get it for me. I also had to have the matching white straw purse with the clear plastic bubble of spring flowers mounted on the front. I know . . . tacky, tacky. My poor mother was sweet to indulge me, but I know she didn’t like any of it one bit!”
“I recently took my daughter, Elizabeth Kate, dress shopping for Easter finery for the first time. She initially picked out a gold (fully sequined) number that would outshine the resurrection celebration. Thankfully she moved on to a more tasteful peach-and-white dress, complete with a hat, of course.”
"All of my Easter dresses were handmade by my great-aunt, but when I was ten, Mother let me pick out a fancy dress in a Birmingham children’s store. It was made of sheer fabric in sea-foam green with a matching slip. The dress had some embroidery on it, and three-quarter puff sleeves. I have never known why my mom bought that for me, but I had a girly dress and wore it every chance I had. Thanks, Mother!"
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From Royal Albert to Wedgwood, flowers to Easter rabbits, pricey to right-on-budget, we've got beautiful patterns guaranteed to get your Easter table dressed for spring.