April 6, 2022

Dancing dresses on parade

Curly outgrew her beautiful Irish dancing dress during the pandemic. 

1.  It was the first dress we'd ever had custom made. It isn't THAT much more expensive to have a NEW dress made anymore vs buying someone else's used dress. Maybe because there are more people/companies making dresses? I own more dresses than I care to admit, because I used to only be a bargain dress shopper. No one want those dresses when we're done with 'em.

2.  If you buy a used dress, it gets even more challenging to sell it when your dancer is done. No one wants a dress previously owned twice. These dresses are like a Jennifer Aniston hairdo - they get classified as outdated CRAZY fast (really, unsure if that's the case, but it sounds right). 

So . . . buying a NEW dress means you have half a chance of selling it and getting SOMETHING back vs trying to sell a dress that everyone and their grandmother once wore. Because Curly is an experienced dancer, her teacher would NEVER let her wear something outdated. 

This is me. Talk about outdated.
Circa 1984. If you're thinking about
tracing my history in the artifacts to see
my true identity based on this dress -
 don't bother. I was NOT a decent dancer.
 No one cataloged my path.
#473 why you should NOT get your kid involved in Irish dancing. In case you haven't been paying attention. 

We ordered a new dress from the same guy that made that green one above (the first custom dress we ever ordered). We love his work. It's beautiful. He's fairly new to the dancing dress scene. Since he's in Belfast IRELAND, he facetimed us in order to make sure I did a good job getting Curly's measurements. 

Curly is tall, but she has a really straightforward shape. She has an athletic build. There aren't any unexpected disproportionate parts. 

Ah, youth. 

The facetime session went well. Mr. Belfast complimented me on what a great job I did measuring. Since I can sort of sew, I own a tape measure and I'm not afraid to use it. I puffed my chest a little and did the HEY, I ONCE MADE A DANCING DRESS strut. *I will not perform the strut here, but I invite you to use your imagination.

Back of her recently
outgrown dress.

Killed me to cover up this face. So cute.
The face, that is, and I really think
the dress was cute too in a HEY I'M A
 MAKE HER BUY. See chapter 16 in future
 Irish dancing tell-all book. Kidding,
 I have no idea what chapter it is,
 but the story that corresponds is gold. 
I DID make a dancing dress for Mini when she was little. (navy dress with bubble like skirt)

Her dancing teachers forbid me from making a dress. Naturally, that only spurred me on.

I showed Mr. Belfast my homemade dress in our Facetime session so he could 'admire' it. Kidding, I knew it would make him laugh. And it did. I was raised with this gift: BETTER BE ABLE TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF - EVERYONE ELSE IS. 

So, Mr. Belfast and I yucked it up a bit. 

He mentioned in his emails prior to the video chat that he'd JUST started his business when the pandemic hit. 

Coach and I tried to support local small businesses that were hurting during the pandemic. Nothing crazy generous, mind you - we gots a few mouths to feed. Mr. Belfast's business wasn't on my 'radar.' After his comment, I decided I'd give him $100 to support his efforts in re-launching his small business as he was just getting it up and running AGAIN. 

Not that an Irish dancing dress wasn't already crazy pricey. 

We were blown away by the wonderful design that he sent in drawings via email. But when the dress came, we were IN AWE. It was stunning.

The dress is so amazing, you almost
don't notice that I erased my
daughter's face, right?

Photos I took
 of short
 sleeves and
 skirt. They're
 to be short,
 but lawdy.

*Truth:  he asked for ideas. From me? Um. I swear I'm creative, but I was stuck. HMM, CURLY PLAYS FIDDLE. CAN YOU PUT A FIDDLE ON IT? HOW ABOUT A PAIR OF DANCING SHOES? SHAMROCKS (hello original). 


For some reason this string of 'creative' dress ideas reminds me of the song:  Boogie in Your Butt by Eddie Murphy. 

The lyrics (swap out 'in your butt' and insert 'on the dress'):  

Say, put a tree in your butt

Put a, a bumblebee in your butt

Put a clock in your butt

Is anyone getting that connection? It's late, maybe I should just go to bed. 


Curly's dancing teacher caught wind of my 'suggestions' and sent word thru Curly DON'T GIVE HIM ANY IDEAS. (reading between the lines here:  you suck). Duly noted. 

The only issue - the most gorgeous dress we'd ever seen was . . . wrong. It didn't fit. The sleeves were supposed to be sheer - that's the latest fad. Ice-skater arms. The back pieces didn't match up. It was WAY too short. 

She wore it in AZ in July (gosh that seems like a century ago, present life circumstances aging me beyond words apparently *I believe I first started this post in the fall, after the boys moved out.) The teacher liked the sleeves, and I was like FINE, I'M NOT A FAN OF SHEER SLEEVES ANYWAY, BUT WANTED TO MAKE A DRESS I COULD RESELL. 
You have to look close - but see how the back
 embroidery pieces don't exactly line up?
 The point at the bottom of the skirt is off
 center because SOMEONE PUT THIS DRESS
(pure speculation). 

This imperfect dress arrived mid June, and in a rare moment of clarity I woke up a few days before the Thanksgiving competition and realized that I never sent the dress back for him to fix after AZ. I considered taking it somewhere local and having it fixed here and have him foot the bill. He agreed to that way back in June. Last thing I needed before the Thanksgiving competition was to play Where's Waldo with her dancing dress. 

*EDITING TO ADD:  drafted this post before the Thanksgiving competition. We ended up NOT fixing any of the issues and it was FINE. Remember, she got 3rd. Will it one day sell though?

Honestly, the mistakes aren't all that noticeable, but RESALE IS KEY HERE. Regardless, I'm still crazy about Mr. Belfast. He's the cutest, sweetest, young Irish guy. Maybe when restarting his business, he had to skimp on good help. 

My advice to him:  lay off the drink when sewing, please. 


I bumped this post in the fall to share other 'stuff' that kept happening. I have SO much to chat with you about, like our trip to Europe, and my daycare drama during the year. I need some time to get over this DANG JETLAG, organize my house (I can handle clutter, but we are dealing with an extreme disordered disaster area over here).  Until then get excited to read about the 'final' chapter of the Irish dancing saga. 

Guesses are welcome . . . Do you think Curly quit? Or do you think Curly tried to quit, but her teacher begged her not to and she opted to keep dancing? Or, do you think I started my own Irish dancing dress business in my free time? You're welcome to fill in your own prediction below. 


Nicole said...

I have a friend whose daughters were in Irish dancing, and I was constantly blown away at how expensive the dresses are! It's similar to figure skating in that way, I guess, because there is so little resale value to them as well. I'm guessing that Curly is still dancing.

ccr in MA said...

My guess is that Curly tried to quit but was talked out of it.

Ally Bean said...

I had no idea that these dresses get classified as outdated. Irish dancing is as old as time, so wouldn't any and all dresses ever worn whilst dancing be ok? I am a pragmatic soul, can you tell?

Jenny in WV said...

Curly seemed pretty committed to being done with dancing but I know sometimes a little time away can make your heart grow fonder. Perhaps you a currently repacking your bags to have the dress altered in person since there is a big Irish Dancing competition in Belfast next week.

With six children and a dog who eats things, do you have free time?

Ernie said...

Nicole - The dresses are CRAZY expensive. The entire world of Irish dancing is ridiculously costly. I feel like at some point it becomes less about celebrating your heritage and more about how much money you can spend to show up the competition. Yuck. I will just say: good guess.

Ernie said...

ccr - I will say that your guess is close to correct, but not quite.

Ernie said...

Ally - It is strange, but true. Irish dancing dresses change faster than you can sing a cute little limerick. When a very out of date dress is spotted on stage, it is hard not to cringe. It's THAT unusual to see.

Ernie said...

Jenny - World championships is being held in Belfast and it is always the week before Easter. I am not brining the dress back to be altered.

This made me laugh, I think having 6 kids and a dog that chews everything definitely keeps me on my toes, but the daycare 4 days a week is the real time suck here. Tt's true, I have very little free time.

Suzanne said...

Oh wow - the new dress IS stunning! Too bad it had some issues - but they aren't noticeable to me on the computer screen at least.

My prediction is you moved to Ireland to help Mr. Belfast supercharge his business and now you are all raking in millions!!!

Beth Cotell said...

That dress is beautiful even with the imperfections. I'm guessing that Curly stuck with dancing but you've opened up your own dance school and you are the teacher.🤣

Ernie said...

Suzanne - It really is stunning and the imperfections aren't noticeable to the 'passerby', but sort of surprising after we spent a small fortune on it.

You have a very active imagination. I love it.

Ernie said...

Beth - I do love this dress, and if we don't sell it I would be fine mounting it in a glass case and admiring it. I'd hope that Curly's home would one day have enough space to house it AND all of her trophies and prizes.

Ha. Very funny. Fun fact, did you know that I once was an assistant teacher at an Irish dancing school? Before we had kids. I was the 'fun' teacher of the younger kids, because the older kids were beyond my ability. I was also the 'mouth' when we needed to bring order. The kids in the class danced at our reception and Kari was at my wedding. That was part of the reason we realized that we'd bumped into one another - my wedding had Irish dancers. ;)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow. You had the dress made in Belfast? Do the local people charge WAY more than he does? The green and the new dress are amazing. I had to really look for the flaws, but then again, what the hell do I know about Irish dancing dresses? I'd have asked for a bee. Or a butterfly.
Mind you NOT IN MY BUTT. On my dress.

boy have the Irish dancing dress styles changed since you danced. I will say they've improved, but only if that doesn't offend you. 😛

I think she tried to quit and her instructor guilted her to stay on. Where is my prize.

Pat Birnie said...

The dress is beautiful (and I also like your homemade one:). It seems like a bit of a racket that they go out of date so often. I'm getting the feeling that your Irish dancing journey continues.... It was very kind of you to support Mr. Belfast's business with a generous tip. (ps have you seen the movie Belfast? we watched it last week- it is SO good!)

Ernie said...

Suz - We do love, love, love the dress. We saw drawing in advance, like computer renderings. They did NOT do it justice. It would be tough to spot the flaws, even for me, a seasoned dance mom (shudder). But the zipper at the top didn't end at the same spot. That was weird. The sleeves were clearly not the sheer fabric we'd requested. Once the dancing teacher said she liked the fabric he chose, I was like FINE WITH ME. I am clearly OK with flaws, since I made a VERY imperfect dress myself - without a pattern, made a pattern by laying down another dress and tracing it. Hello, unconventional. I just didn't want to spend so much and then not be able to sell it, if someone else noticed the flaws.

No offense here, I mean you could say I danced like trash and I wouldn't be offended because you'd be RIGHT. When it comes to dancing, it would be hard to offend me is what I'm saying.

For a joke once, I took pics of Mini wearing my old pink dress and sending them to her teacher HEY, WHAT IF MINI JUST WEARS THIS ONE? That gave her minor heart palpitations.

I could totally see you with a bee or a butterfly on your dress. One girl wears a dress that looks like Snow White. That always leaves us scratching our heads.

That was a good, well-educated dress . . . but incorrect. ;)

Ernie said...

Pat - It sure is a work of art. My homemade version was so sweet and cute, and Mini was super excited about it. I have not yet seen Belfast, but I intend to. This guy starting his own business and then months later dealing with the pandemic and dancing competitions cancelled, well it broke my heart. I feel like he gave us his very best designs, so it didn't bother me to 'tip' him. Your guess is close, but also incorrect. I'm sure you are all on the edge of your seat.

And you have it right - the money that gets thrown around in order to have 'the look', well, it's disgusting. I sent an email during the pandemic under a fake name and begged the people in charge to make some changes, like dancers only allowed to order a new dress every so often, and must wear used dresses every so often. It'd be hell to police, but get control over this, people.

Bibliomama said...

"Lay off the drinking while sewing" ha ha, seriously. I have also been blown away by how expensive the dresses are, but honestly a shit ton of work obviously goes into them. I think the dress you made is really good! But I already knew you could sew because of the Halloween costumes. I can barely sew a button on. I have no idea what to guess.

Ernie said...

Ali - It is SO true that a ton of work goes into the dresses. I guess I'm also fine, even a supporter, of them dancing in a black skirt and a black shirt. Then it becomes more about the dancing. One would think so anyway. A shit ton of people would lose interest in Irish dancing then, would be my guess, and would that be a bad thing? The vendors who sell wigs and sparkle crowns and everything under the sun would be bummed.

Halloween costumes and wee Irish dancing dresses are very forgiving, especially Halloween costumes, the hairy ones in particular. I'm looking at you Chewbacca. When Mini wore that dress, I told all my friends if they saw a thread hanging off of it anywhere, best not to tug at it . . . the entire skirt could fall off. I was THAT confident in it. Looking back, I wonder how I had the energy to whip that thing up, especially since the kids still needed me to do most of their stuff for them. Ah, youth.

joymariecooks said...

My guess is that she DID quit for awhile, but like when my dad retired and six weeks later had a part time job... that she's back at it in some capacity (dancer, assistant teacher).

Ernie said...

Joymarie - That's funny. I can see Coach doing the same thing. This is an interesting angle. No one has guessed it correctly. I will share the latest 'twist' on Monday.

Jenny in WV said...

New guess: Curly has given up Irish Dancing to become a caddy and win the Evans, just like Mini. Planning to win the Evan and cover college costs, would allow you to spend her college savings now on tuition and/or a chauffeur to the far away Catholic High School. Or maybe playing basketball at a private school will earn her a fantastic full-ride athletic college scholarship, again allowing you to splurge on a chauffeur to school.
3rd guess: Curly has started her own Irish Dancing school in your basement and you have been hired as the seamstress to make costumes for a ceili team of tiny tots. Children in your daycare get discounted tuition at the new Shenanigan School of Dance.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I like your enthusiasm. You are not far from the correct answer. If, and that's a big if, Curly went to the Catholic high school, Reg would transfer to the brother school. He would become an instant chauffeur.

I am dying at the thought of my little charges getting a discount off of Curly's dancing school. I don't think I could PAY them to send their kids into Irish dancing, since I've advised them to stay far away.

Let's say that we cross our fingers in hopes that either or both of the other kids could get the Evans, I wonder if the committee would think that if we had enough money for private school we might not need a free ride for college.

Me, hired on as a seamstress anywhere, is good stuff. Only for those not interested in a straight hem.