Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

“I Want That Red Dress Bad”

Photo by hotblack

Kim Addonizio, in her poem “What Do Women Want,”  gets right to the sometimes gritty heart of what a seemingly simple garment can mean to us, how it can give us a way to cut loose, break free, force the world to see us in a different way, disguise our fragility, our goodness, and our innocence:

I want a red dress.

I want it flimsy and cheap,

I want it too tight, I want to wear it

until someone tears if off me.

I want it sleeveless and backless,

this dress, so no one has to guess

what’s underneath.

Addonizio understands the signs and symbols inherent in what we wear, the cultural messages, the sexual overtones, the magic—how a garment can transform us, make us feel dangerous, signalling to all comers that we’re ready to rip them to shreds if they comes too close, all the while drawing them into our menacing orbit.

Yes, sometimes what women (and men) want is killer clothing that enables us to swagger through the world in a way we never could without it:

 I want that red dress bad. …

When I find it, I’ll pull that garment

from its hanger like I’m choosing a body

to carry me into this world, through

the birth-cries and the love-cries too

and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,

it’ll be the goddamned

dress they bury me in.

Worn anything dangerous lately?

Categories: Fashion & Poetry

2 replies

  1. I always wanted one of those dresses, but I was too shy to buy one much less wear it. Now it’s too late.
    Sigh …


    • O dear, Anon, if you take one thing away from this blog, please let it be this: It is never too late, too early, too much, too fast, too slow, too anything. Your red dress is out there, and you deserve to find it, own it, and wear it. I, along with every one of the Style Sisters, from the meekest to the brassiest, hope to hear soon that you’ve done just exactly that. May the Style Force be with you.


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