Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Astonishing Dress

Her dress of sleazy silk was bright burned orange painted with black sail-boats sailing over purple trees and red football players playing over steeples and white skiers skiing over sail-boats cascading to the hem and locked acrobats, the entire field of outdoor sports, it seemed, being on her body, for her scarf was painted with spidery tennis players and tennis nets and ice-skaters skating on silver ponds and red polo riders riding red horses, and there were little footballs hanging from her charm bracelets, tennis rackets and ice-skates and gold clubs and numerous other trophies, some of field and stream, satin fishes running around the hem of her chiffon petticoat edged with yellow lace, butterflies embroidered upon the knees of her thin silk stockings, and her skirts came up high above her knees, higher when she moved, showing her yellow satin garters and pairs of stuffed red valentine hearts dangling from ribbons and faces which were painted powder puffs, and the coat seemed shrunken or a size too small like something she might have worn in a remote youth. (pp. 2–3)

I'm trying to think of a description of any ensemble in literature as remarkable at this one worn by the girl on the bus (limiting it to this sentence neglects her equally involved jewelry) and I'm coming up short. I'm also having a hard time visualizing exactly how this would work. A Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Marguerite Young's Novel Miss MacIntosh, My Darling would be a fantastic thing. Anyone?


  1. Maybe Jason Polan is the man for the job?

  2. What is "sleazy silk," I ask myself?

    1640s, "hairy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), of unknown origin; one theory traces it somehow to Silesian "of the eastern German province of Silesia" (Ger. Schlesien), where fine linen or cotton fabric was made (Silesia in ref. to cloth is attested in English from 1670s; and sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from 1670), but OED is against this. Sense of "sordid" is from 1941.