The Yellow Dress

The summer before my mom went off to college, my grandmother helped her sew a twiggy inspired mini dress from a  pattern.  A soft yellow cotton piqué was perfect for late summer, and the scalloped details gave this dress the ladylike charm most appropriate for a first impression.  And as such, Mom recalls choosing that dress to wear for rush when packing her closet for the dorms. I can picture her stepping onto campus, fresh faced and confident. She had heard about rush, what would it hold for her? 

Self-assured, she put on the yellow dress, and set her sites in the direction of one particularly stately columned, Greek house. And just as she had hoped, she would find herself at home there.  She learned what it meant to be part of a group of women with a shared standard of ideals. The friendships she forged during her years in the house would last a lifetime.  

Fast forward a generation,  at eighteen, I found myself in a similar moment. 

I wanted to share in this sisterhood with Mom and my Aunt Karen. Was I naive to let my childhood impressions draw me to such decisive action as to take off for a place where girls prepared for sorority rush like an Olympic sport?

Mom had given me the dress that summer.  And as we packed for the move from Nashville to Oxford, she tucked it in my bag. 

So there I stood, alone in the state of Mississippi, gazing at a set of big white columns. 

What would become of this endeavor? First impression time.  But I wasn’t alone…I wore the dress. 

The significance of generational gifts and sentimental hand-me-downs is found not in their monetary value, but in the heart and hands. The yellow dress provided just the confidence I needed in that moment-assurance found in a sentiment, from a mother to a daughter.  

“Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be” Sometimes the simple gift can mean the most. Place these items where they can be seen and enjoyed by you.  Use your grandmothers silver, dine on your mothers wedding china- indulge yourself a little nostalgia.  Let your hands hold and care for the items that others cared for before you. And let the gift speak volumes to your heart. In other words-Put on the yellow dress. 


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  • Mom says:

    Beautifully written. Love that you love the yellow dress and it’s sweet history.

  • Evelyn Allen says:

    Charrming first comea to mind, but. it’s so much more. It’s cherished family and treasured memories, heritage linking families for generations. Thank you for the reminding me. Mary Morgan.

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