“It is not tiring to count dresses.”
This dress I am wearing in this black-and-white photograph, taken when I was two years old, was a yellow dress made of cotton poplin (a fabric with a slightly unsmooth texture first manufactured in the French town of Avignon and brought to England by the Huguenots, but I could not have known that at the time), and it was made for me by my mother.
“You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You are—” He stopped, ran his eye over my dress, which, as usual, was quite simple: a black merino cloak, a black beaver bonnet; neither of them half fine enough for a lady’s-maid. He seemed puzzled to decide what I was; I helped him. “I am the governess.”
A waiter passed her, followed by a sweetly scented woman in a fluttering dress of green chiffon whose mingled pattern of narcissuses, jonquils, and hyacinths was a reminder of pleasantly chill spring days.
Now your body fits perfectly into the square dress.
And a funnier thing still was that now her coat was off she did look like a very intelligent monkey who had even made that yellow silk dress out of scraped banana skins. And her amber ear-rings: they were like little dangling nuts.
died her red
Her dress hangs on a door, the cloth is of a light background, revealing the surface with a landscape stained with the slightest of hue. Her portrait is not represented in a still photograph, nor in a painting. All along, you see her without actually seeing, actually having seen her. You do not see her yet.
8 & 9
They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.
Although her dress, her coiffure, and all the preparations for the ball had cost Kitty great trouble and consideration, at this moment she walked into the ballroom in her elaborate tulle dress over a pink slip as easily and simply as though all the rosettes and lace, all the minute details of her attire, had not cost her or her family a moment’s attention, as though she had been born in that tulle and lace, with her hair done up high on her head, and a rose and two leaves on the top of it.
A few days before I exed out metaphors I was walking down the street in New York where I sometimes live. I was wearing this torn, floral dress, similar to something Janeane Garofalo would have worn maybe in Reality Bites. I was smoking a cigarette even though I said I had quit.
So home to dinner, where my wife having dressed herself in a silly dress, of a blue petticoat uppermost and a white satin waistcoat and a white hood (though I think she did it because her gown is gone to the tailor’s) did, together with my being hungry (which always makes me peevish), make me angry.
She could not face the whole horror—the pale yellow, idiotically old-fashioned silk dress with its long skirt and its high sleeves and its waist and all the things that looked so charming in the fashion book, but not on her, not among all these ordinary people. She felt like a dressmaker’s dummy standing there, for young people to stick pins into.
I am writing to you, in your special writing dress made from scraps of lace as if it (the dress, the morning of writing ahead of you) is a café; as if, writing, you are hypnotizing not only the biologies of strangers and friends but also yourself.
When they autopsied me,
I wore a white nightgown of malignant pearls
inside my body, as if I were a Queen that had swallowed my own crown
or a demented bride with her own cake sewn up inside.
one second, a woman walks with a parasol in her hand, her dress white with small flowers : the next second, the flowers press against her skin, her back becomes the field of flowers, or the page of the exotic specimen of flora
She sleeps in a red gown.
People around her are the size of rabbits and birds.
“How do you do? How do you do?” she murmured ceremoniously, and I was surprised to notice that she wore an ancient and beautiful dress of green silk. But as she approached me I saw that her skin was dead white and glittered as though speckled with thousands of minute stars.
& then it was time to start / the shoot we got called to set & the smoke machine was going on the / faux dance floor & midway through the unremarkable song one of the / goons tried to pull my sister’s dress down in the front his finger actually / touching her chest
The golden shimmer of Edna’s satin gown spread in rich folds on either side of her. There was a soft fall of lace encircling her shoulders. It was the color of her skin, without the glow, the myriad living tints that one may sometimes discover in vibrant flesh. There was something in her attitude, in her whole appearance when she leaned her head against the high-backed chair and spread her arms, which suggested the regal woman, the one who rules, who looks on, who stands alone.
Pale purple shadows rest on the planes of her cheeks. Deep purple comes from her thick-shocked hair. Orange of the dress goes well with these.
The morning after, when the Navies were to fight, the Empress appear’d upon the face of the Waters, dress’d in her Imperial Robes, which were all of Diamonds and Carbuncles; in one hand she held a Buckler, made of one intire Carbuncle, and in the other hand a Spear of one intire Diamond; on her head she had a Cap of Diamonds, and just upon the top of the Crown, was a Starr made of the Starrstone, mentioned heretofore; and a Half-Moon made of the same Stone, was placed on her forehead; all her other Garments were of several sorts of precious Jewels; and having given her Fish-men directions how to destroy the Enemies of her Native Country, she proceeded to effect her design.
She wore that day a pretty print dress that I had seen on her once before, ample in the skirt, tight in the bodice, short-sleeved, pink, checkered with darker pink, and, to complete the color scheme, she had painted her lips and was holding in her hollowed hands a beautiful, banal, Eden-red apple.
“I’ll show you how,” he said. Pressing my face to the floor, he ripped open my dress. There was a tearing sound, as if he had slit my back with a knife, and I tried to curl into a ball.
To be dressed like a man did not please, and would not suit me. I had consented to take a man’s name and part; as to his dress—halte là! No. I would keep my own dress; come what might.
And so by night the queen went from her palace,
Armed for the rites of Bacchus, in all the dress
Of frenzy, trailing vines for head-dress, deer-skin
Down the left side, and a spear over the shoulder.
I walk down the patterned garden paths.
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
In our simple, cabin-like house I put on a dress that is deeply, deeply patterned with the night sky.
Now that her dress is completely dry I see the haloes of discolored fabric, huge and amorphous, like a big school of jellyfish.
The deep accumulation of dress fell about her in groined shadows; the train, rambling through a vista of primitive trees, was carpet thick. She seemed to be expecting a bird.
It is still night and I am walking towards the forest. I am wearing a long dress and thin slippers, so I walk with difficulty, following the man who is with me and holding up the skirt of my dress. It is white and beautiful and I don’t wish to get it soiled.
Part of my mind was listening to the quiet outside, part was staring appalled at him unfastening the buttons of my dress. Beginning from the top. One by one.
By the mass! her breast-piece seems to me at this distance to be of rich coral, and her gown, instead of green stuff of Cuenza, is no less than a thirty-piled velvet! Besides, the trimming, I vow, is of satin! Do but observe her hands—instead of rings of jet, let me never thrive but they are of gold, aye, and of real gold, with pearls as white as a curd, every one of them worth an eye of one’s head.
She came out, smiling, holding in front of herself a bright dress covered in suns. “You can’t wear it in Paris,” he said, and he saw her face change, as if he had darkened some idea she’d had of what she might be.
She felt she was choking in her blue velvet dress, with its high lace collar, its narrow sleeves, and a waist so tight that when she removed her belt her stomach jumped and twisted for half an hour while her organs fell back into place.
Elsbeth is flat against the plain. She is exactly the same height as the foxglove. The chickens are in front of her chest. The grass, the woods and the sky constitute three strips of colour. Her feet are in the roots. Her face is forever tilted towards childhood. Her dress is an explosion of white. Not a single shadow.
Her own dress was of the coarsest materials and the most sombre hue; with only that one ornament,—the scarlet letter,—which it was her doom to wear.
He looked magnificent as he came towards me. His resplendent, cherry-coloured Court cloak was lined with material of the most delightful hue and lustre; he wore dark, grape-coloured trousers, boldly splashed with designs of wisteria branches; his crimson under-robe was so glossy that it seemed to sparkle, while underneath one could make out layer upon layer of white and light violet robes.
R’s impetuous proclamations about the passé significance of the patriarchy in contemporary times and her persistent sublimation of daily anxieties and sensory experiences through the subjectivity of her growing cat Kit-Ten, to whom she was incurably allergic, suggested a level of existence with which I was unfamiliar, and it was not until she appeared one night at a house reading in San Francisco wearing an orange dress and narrating the particulars of her recent femme self-awareness that I suddenly realized how we spoke not just a foreign language but the same foreign language, and how we had, unknowingly and seemingly without effort, become a “we.”
She was sitting there with her hands folded in the lap of her dress, the Sears dress with flowers on it. There was a little mirror on the wall across from them, bright blue with the evening sky, and there were lace curtains behind them, and the chill of the window, and beyond that trees and fields and the wind.
Oh dear, my underpants show through the dress now. I’d better put some flesh-colored ones on in case someone comes to the door.
Margaret Kochamma climbed into the advertisement with her brown back-freckles and her arm-freckles and her flowered dress with legs underneath.
I used to dream about a dress that had the colours of the medicine wheel: black, white, yellow, and red. I finally made one from some clearance clothes I found at the Sally Ann: I ripped out the stitches down to the original panels, cut out pieces from a McCall’s pattern I found at Value Village, and restitched them back into a dress that drapes over my body like a second skin.
With what can only be at Emily’s request, an outside pocket, completely outside, a workman’s pocket, was added to the right-hand side of the dress, level with the sleeve of the right hand. And no curator, no costume historian, can come up with a reason for that pocket to be there, if not to hold something the wearer used with regularity and wanted to be always near—could it have been something to write with, and a piece of paper?
Dark as midnight in her black dress, her haggard beauty and her unutterable woe.
They gave me a white dress. They know I am a barber and I didn’t tell them I’m a barber. Won’t. Can’t. Boot in my throat, the food has to climb over it and then go down and meet with all their pals in the stomach. Hi sausage. Hi cabbage.
I have read that female prisoners to be hanged must wear rubber pants and a dress sewn shut at the knees because uterus and ovaries spill with the shoot down the shaft.
In the foreground, close to the right-hand edge of the picture, a lady has just fallen. She wears a canary-yellow dress, and the cavalier bending over her in concern is clad in red breeches, very conspicuous in the pallid light. Looking at the river now, thinking of that painting and its tiny figures, said Austerlitz, I feel as if the moment depicted by Lucas van Valckenborch had never come to an end, as if the canary-yellow lady had only just fallen over or swooned, as if the black velvet hood had only this moment dropped away from her head, as if the little accident, which no doubt goes unnoticed by most viewers, were always happening over and over again, and nothing and no one could ever remedy it.
When he unearthed an appropriately baroque dress (black lace on top, clingy polyester underneath), he took a picture of himself in that too, camera tilted down for the most flattering angle. He looked good, he thought. People should see these pictures.
How magnificent her clothing is! The bird is on her gloved hand and is moving. She is looking at it and at the same time reaching into the bowl that the handmaid brings her, in order to give it something. Below, on the right, a little silken-haired dog is lying on the train of her dress; it is looking up and hoping that they will remember it.
Q. Gloria spent a certain amount for a new dress, a pair of shoes, and a purse. If the combined cost of the purse and shoes was $150 more than the cost of the dress, and the combined cost of the dress and the purse was $127 less than twice the cost of the shoes, what is Gloria’s real name?
The women lay on the bed and caressed each other. I felt amused, and gradually more and more excited. They danced round me. The girl naked under a transparent dress, and the woman, her breasts bared, cut open a melon, held grapes, sucked them, and rubbed herself on me, under me.
“Did I say blue—and slinky?” As Elizabeth nodded, Jessica continued. “It has a handkerchief hemline and—wait till you hear this, Lizzie—spaghetti straps and a neckline so low Todd will be panting.”
Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color.
A finger’s worth of dark from daybreak, he steps
into a red dress. A flame caught
in a mirror the width of a coffin. Steel glinting
in the back of his throat.
The salt pond is at work as soon as I’m awake
I listen to the rising sea architecture
I am wearing the salt dress
She had clothed that thinness, Tatiana clearly recalled, in a very low-cut black dress, with a double layer of tulle over it, also black. This was the bearing and the clothing she desired, and she looked exactly the way she wanted to look, unquestionably.
Everything about her shimmered and glimmered softly, as if her dress had been woven out of candle-beams.
Her dress, as she sat back again, spilled over both sides of her chair, in ample swelling folds, that reached right down to the floor. When Léon sometimes felt it under the sole of his boot, he stepped backwards, as if he had trodden on something living.
creases like my brain is made of
It folds of her
Here, the texture and color in the sleeve of her dress meld into the pine boughs behind her.
“Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain.”
The morning road air was like a new dress.
“Why” “is she wearing” “a dress? What” “animal is she?”
I dance thinking of the plump lady, in her green crochet dress—the color of hope, they say—, in the pleasure she takes in dancing, replica or maybe a reflection of the pleasure she must feel while knitting; a vast dress for her vast body and the happiness to dream of the moment when she can show it off, dancing.
Must really lower my expenses, though there are days when one is sure that if one is better dressed, or more beautiful, in a kind of ceremonial dress if you will, one could get down to work.
* * * * *
1. JAMAICA KINCAID, BIOGRAPHY OF A DRESS
2. CHARLOTTE BRONTE, JANE EYRE
3. NELLA LARSON, PASSING
4. KIM HYESOON, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DEATH (TRANSLATED BY DON MEE CHOI)
5. KATHRYN MANSFIELD, BLISS
6. CACONRAD, THE BOOK OF FRANK
7. THERESA HAK KYUNG CHA, DICTEE
8 & 9. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, THE GREAT GATSBY
10. LEO TOLSTOY, ANNA KARENINA (TRANSLATED BY CONSTANCE GARNETT)
11. T CLUTCH FLEISCHMANN, HOUSE WITH DOOR
12. THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS, VOL. 8, 1667
13. VIRGINIA WOOLF, THE NEW DRESS
14. BHANU KAPIL, WISH (2)
15. JOYELLE MCSWEENEY, DEAD YOUTH, OR THE LEAKS
16. MARIKO NAGAI, IRRADIATED CITIES
17. MEI-MEI BERSSENBRUGGE, I LOVE ARTISTS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS
18. LEONORA CARRINGTON, WHITE RABBITS
19. KADIJAH QUEEN, I’M SO FINE: A LIST OF FAMOUS MEN AND WHAT I HAD ON
20. KATE CHOPIN, THE AWAKENING
21. JEAN TOOMER, CANE
22. MARGARET CAVENDISH, THE DESCRIPTION OF A NEW WORLD CALLED THE BLAZING WORLD
23. VLADIMIR NOBOKOV, LOLITA
24. YOKO OGAWA, HOTEL IRIS (TRANSLATED BY STEPHEN SNYDER)
25. CHARLOTTE BRONTE, VILLETTE
26. OVID, METAMORPHOSES (TRANSLATED BY ROLF HUMPHRIES)
27. AMY LOWELL, PATTERNS
28. AMINA CAIN, GENTLE NIGHTS
29. SAMANTA SCHWEBLIN, FEVER DREAM (TRANSLATED BY MEGAN MCDOWELL)
30. DJUNA BARNES, NIGHTWOOD
31. JEAN RHYS, WIDE SARGASSO SEA
32. ANNE CARSON, PLAINWATER
33. MIGUEL DE CERVANTES, DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA (A REVISED TRANSLATION BASED ON THOSE OF MOTTEUX, JARVIS, AND SMOLLETT)
34. MAVIS GALLANT, IN TRANSIT
35. ISABEL ALLENDE, THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS (TRANSLATED BY MAGDA BOGIN)
36. MARIE DARRIEUSSECQ, BEING HERE: THE LIFE OF PAULA MODERSOHN-BECKER (TRANSLATED BY PENNY HUESTON)
37. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, THE SCARLET LETTER
38. SEI SHONOGON, THE PILLOW BOOK (TRANSLATED BY IVAN MORRIS)
39. PAMELA LU, PAMELA: A NOVEL
40. MARILYNNE ROBINSON, LILA
41. HELEN FIELDING, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
42. ARUNDHATI ROY, THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS
43. JOSHUA WHITEHEAD, JONNY APPLESEED
44. MARY RUEFLE, MY EMILY DICKINSON
45. HENRY JAMES, THE TURN OF THE SCREW
46. MICHAEL ONDAATJE, COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER
47. ROSMARIE WALDROP, LAWN OF EXCLUDED MIDDLE
48. W.G. SEBALD, AUSTERLITZ (TRANSLATED BY ANTHEA BELL)
49. ANDREA LAWLOR, PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL
50. RAINER MARIA RILKE, THE NOTEBOOKS OF MALTE LAURIDS BRIGGE (TRANSLATED BY STEPHEN MITCHELL)
51. FRAN ROSS, OREO
52. ANN QUIN, PASSAGES
53. FRANCINE PASCAL, DOUBLE LOVE: SWEET VALLEY HIGH #1
54. GERTRUDE STEIN, TENDER BUTTONS [A LONG DRESS] 55. OCEAN VUONG, TROJAN
56. KIM HYESOON, THE SALT DRESS INSIDE ME (TRANSLATED BY DON MEE CHOI)
57. MARGUERITE DURAS, THE RAVISHING OF LOL STEIN (TRANSLATED BY RICHARD SEAVER)
58. EDITH WHARTON, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
59. GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, MADAME BOVARY (TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY WALL)
60. ANNE WALDMAN, NOT A MALE PSEUDONYM
61. AKIKO BUSCH, HOW TO DISAPPEAR
62. JANE AUSTEN, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
63. ZORA NEALE HURSTON, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD
64. ALICE NOTLEY, THE DESCENT OF ALETTE
65. LUISA VALENZUELA, TANGO (TRANSLATED BY FRANK THOMAS SMITH)
66. ALIX CLEO ROUBAUD, ALIX’S JOURNAL (TRANSLATED BY JAN STEYN)