Ultimate Recycling

By Esther M. Bailey

Ultimate Recycling

When I paid for my purchase at an upscale department store in 1976, I had no idea the money I spent would have such long-term value. As soon as I saw the fabric that spoke to me of subtle elegance, I knew it was a “must-have.” For my first European trip, I made a dress that came out of the suitcase without a wrinkle after twenty-four hours of travel.

Compliments received from strangers boosted my sense of accomplishment. The designs knitted into the fabric created a unique pattern. Even more important was the variation of yarn that added luster to the geometric designs against a matte background. The neutral cream color allowed me to accessorize with colorful scarves or jewelry. After the trip, the dress continued to hold a prominent place in my wardrobe. Fast forward to 1989 – my husband, Ray, wanted to buy me a new dress to celebrate our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. Shopping did not go well. At the third store we visited, we found a smart-looking, cream-colored knit dress. “I like it, but I don’t like it as well as the one I made that’s similar,” I said to Ray. By that time, I had updated the look by removing the midriff detail and purchasing a leather belt to match.

From time to time, I weed out clothes from my wardrobe to pass on to charity. Somehow my 1976 dress always survived the cut. After my husband’s death in 2005, I downsized my house as well as my possessions. I made drastic cuts in my wardrobe, but there was too much history connected to the knit dress to part with it. For sentimental reasons, if for nothing else, the dress moved with me to my new house. With a closet full of clothes at the beginning of 2009, I felt the need to curb an addiction in the making. My love affair with fashion needed to cool. In a radical move, I made a commitment to forgo buying new clothes for the entire year. Keeping the commitment wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be.

After my year of fasting from materialism, I bought a few items but didn’t go overboard because I wanted to keep my appetite for clothes under control. At the same time, I launched another clean-out-your-closet-for-charity campaign. I hadn’t worn the knit dress since I moved to my new house, so I decided it was finally time to let go. Among other things, I packed the dress in a box, ready to go out the door.

For my 81st birthday, my daughter-in-law, Carol, sent me a lovely coral knit top. Over the closure of hidden buttons, three cream-colored, crocheted frogs adorned the front. The straight skirt I had was the right color, but a skirt with a little flare would be a better style. I found a cream skirt but my size was not available. The next place I looked had nothing, and on it went. I even surfed the Internet to no avail. Should I settle for the straight skirt or buy fabric and make one? I hadn’t done any significant sewing in years, and didn’t want to start. Then the thought hit me! The dress! I pulled out the knit dress from the box and turned it into a skirt with little effort – a perfect outfit.

I believe in recycling, but this time I took it to the ultimate. If there is ever a prize for recycling something the longest, I should be the winner. Who knows? I may even wear the outfit to my funeral.

About this writer

  • Esther M. BaileyEsther M. Bailey writes from Scottsdale, Arizona where she enjoys dining out and hanging out with friends. Her more than 1000 published credits speak of her passion for writing.

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One Response to “Ultimate Recycling”

  1. Kathy says:

    Very impressive. Thanks for sharing your story.

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