I remember seeing it for the first time on ASOS.com. It was just what I needed — a professional A-line dress that was fitted without being revealing, colorful but subtle. And cheap. Just about $100, and I knew I’d wear it a million times over.
I was about to release my first novel and I needed this dress for readings and book festivals. Dressing for readings can be difficult. You want to look stylish and smart, but it needs to appear effortless. Easy.
And this dress was it, the perfect blend of Carrie Bradshaw, Joan from “Mad Men,” and the middle school teacher you had a crush on when you were 12. It’s checked without looking like a picnic tablecloth, red and white with subtle touches of light blue so that it doesn’t look like a flag. It’s conservative but shows a little skin.
It was as magical as I thought it’d be. Whenever I had it on, I felt polished and weirdly invincible.
After I got through about a month of readings, first lady Michelle Obama wore my dress on the campaign trail last August. It became her dress — the one she had on when she embraced her husband in Iowa. (Later, after the campaign ended, the president would tweet a photo of himself with Michelle in the dress, displaying the frock to millions.)
I could deal with that. The first lady is a fashion icon, and it was validating to know that I had picked out a dress that was probably chosen for her by a real stylist.
But then, last month, Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, wore the dress. It was before the latest scandal broke and she stood next to him, smiling wide. Suddenly, my dress was the Obama dress stolen by Abedin to make herself more relatable.
Then Jessica Alba wore the dress a couple of weeks later to launch The Honest Company, her new business that sells eco-friendly baby products. Apparently the dress also says: “Trust me! I’m an actress who sells organic diapers! I’m an entrepreneur!” She pulled it off.
A few days ago, I spotted the dress in my closet and wondered what to do with it. Maybe it was time to donate it because it had become so spiritually freighted. But I couldn’t quite let it go. Because it is the perfect dress. It transforms us into who we want to be. It makes it possible for us to stand at a podium and smile no matter how nervous we are. It’s ASOS’s bulletproof vest, and at some point in our lives, we all need one. In this case, one size fits all.