Costume Drama

Costume Drama

Several months ago, I sold this early 60s day dress:

What made the sale especially memorable was the buyer's shipping address. The dress was headed to a young enlisted woman on active duty, living on a battle ship stationed somewhere off the coast of Japan. It was humbling, packing the dress and shipping it off to Cindy's APO address, along with a note of thanks, for both her purchase and her service.

Of course I had visions of the dress being worn on leave, for a romantic rendezvous. I pictured her leaving fatigues and combat boots behind, donning the dress with high heels, and strolling hand-in-hand with her beau after a late dinner at a tucked away exotic eatery. Or, perhaps she'd add a string of pearls and patent-leather flats, and sit down to brunch with parents who'd flown half-way round the world to see their brave little girl. 

Well, I don't deny being a hopeful romantic. And that's how I envisioned it.

Flash back to reality and the email I received this morning. In it, Cindy apologized both for the delay and for not being able to take the photo aboard ship, as I'd requested. She told me she had worn the dress for Halloween, and that she was dressed as someone called Little Sister, from something called Bioshock2:

OMG! Now of course I realize that what happens to an item once someone pays for it is entirely their business. I have no say in how, when, or why they use it. But I don't promote my items as costumes, and generally speaking, it's my hope that they are given new life by being integrated into the buyer's everyday, modern wardrobe. Truth be told, I was a little sad.

Looking to understand, I did some research. I quickly learned that Bioshock2 is the second in a series of extremely popular "first-person shooter" video games. Here's an advertisement for a figurine of the Little Sister character:

It might not be what I would wear for Halloween, but boy, did Cindy do a great job or what?! 

I turned to my vintage-seller colleagues for a bit of clarity and moral support. And as usual, I was surprised and tickled by their responses. Almost universally, they praised Cindy's costume, and as I read each comment, I became both happier and a bit more open minded.

Cindy's costume is a terrific use of her vintage dress because:

1. it's a wonderfully executed representation of the character
2. she had a great time creating and wearing it
3. it does not appear that the dress was damaged in the process, and therefore ...
4. it could be returned to its original state for Cindy to wear on that romantic rendezvous, or ...
5. she can donate it to charity in wearable condition 

When I consulted my colleagues, I said I was torn over whether to include Cindy's image on my Customer Photos wall. They argued mostly in favor of doing so. And while I still feel it's not an appropriate addition to that page of the site, I thought her creativity, and what I gained from it, deserved a post all its own.

*with thanks to Joules, Mary Jane, Melody, and Carrie.


Liza Dolensky

How creative this young woman is! And really, she found the perfect dress for the costume.

I think clothes take on many different personalities and purposes, the important thing is they find life and enjoyment. Which is far better than the alternative, don’t you think?

Liza Dolensky

I have to say, at first I was a little traumatised by the the thought of this lovely dress, being re-purposed in such a way, but it did bring a smile to my face and you are right to have given it a whole post of its own! Because Cindy has done your dress justice and looks fab!

Liza Dolensky

I know this post is several months old, but I just had too respond. Although I am mostly a purist, I am not always, but I was a bit shocked as well! But the VFG gang put it all in perspective didn’t they? What I love about vintage is the fact that it is alive and well to be enjoyed and worn – and that is just what Cindy did.

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