Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Colour Collaborative: August: Dress

Dresses - more than any other item of clothing, I think - have power. They let you imagine yourself in a different way, how you might feel in them, what kind of day or night out you might have, A good dress, the right dress, can fill you with confidence, and while I don't want to be judged by my appearance I do want to feel strong and attractive in the clothes I choose to wear.



I saw this dress in a shop window in Chichester last May. John and I were celebrating my birthday (three months late as he'd had a nasty ear infection on my birthday in February, and then we'd moved house and lost track of time) with shopping and lunch out while the children were at school. I saw the dress and I wanted it, I wanted it to fit so badly. I tried it on, just to see what it would look like. I loved it. Knee length and well cut, the dress was full and swingy with a nipped in waist and deep pockets. (I love pockets on a dress).  I bought it, justifying it to myself. I'd just applied for my job and said it would be my congratulations present if I got the job or consolation prize if I didn't, and it was kind of my birthday after all.


You see, I'd already imagined myself in this dress. Not what I'd look like in it, no, but what I'd do. What kind of day I'd have in my new dress, the places I'd go, the people I'd see. Everything about the print and pattern said summer and sea. It's bright blue colour made me picture clear skies and flapping sails, made me hear the intoxicating sound of ropes clinking against boat masts and smell the salty sea air. The orange piping cheered me. I like nice little details, and this dress was full of them. I pictured myself wearing it while sipping a drink in a pub beer garden or sitting on the harbour wall, overlooking the boats, Perhaps I'd even wear it to the beach. But in my mind's eye the sun would be shining and I'd be carrying a straw bag and it would be carefree and warm.


There was just one catch: my legs. I don't much like them, which is partly why I live in jeans or trousers all the time. I know, it's such an affliction. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing actually wrong with my legs, they just lack shape and tone and don't meet a media-standard notion of perfection. Thread veins are my enemy and I'm pretty sure there are some varicose veins there too, lurking and ready to pop up and say hello. Perhaps you also have a body part which you don't like very much too, which stops you wearing things you'd otherwise like to wear? A perceived imperfection which is invisible to those around you, who hadn't noticed because they were too busy listening to something funny and interesting you'd just said.


My poor legs. My long, strong limbs which carry me around every day, take me up and down stairs, take me all the places I want to go. My healthy legs which supported the weight of two heavy babies, which, when stretched out, let me run or cycle. My flexible legs which, when I sat with my back against the wall, bent my knees and placed my heels together, made a diamond-shape in which Angus loved to sit and read with me when he was smaller.

And then the realisation: it's not dresses which give you confidence, but age, and I've reached a point in my life where I couldn't give a monkeys what my legs look like in a dress. I'm happy to have a pair that work, frankly. So I bought the dress and I've worn a lot. It's a swine to iron but it's comfortable to wear and people pay me compliments when I do. I've mostly worn it to work, to the school summer fair and a family barbecue. No drinks in pub beer gardens yet - maybe next year. Or maybe even this year, if September is nice! Now, there's a happy thought to end on.


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Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear
Claire at Above The River
Sarah at Mitenska

What is The Colour Collaborative? 

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.











58 comments:

  1. Oh the power of clothing. That is a beautiful dress and I'm glad that you overcame the leg worry to be able to wear it. In a dress like that no-one is looking at your legs!
    I didn't wear dresses for years then one day I saw one that I just really liked. I bought it and have worn it so many times. It led me to buy other dresses and now I have small number in my wardrobe that I wear from time to time. Although when my daughter declared 'that dress makes you look pregnant' about one of them it went straight to the charity shop bag...... X

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  2. Such a classic shape and jaunty print - one to enjoy for years. Oh, and I do like a dress with a story xo

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  3. It's lovely, I can see why you wanted it. And you're right, part of the charm of a new dress is imagining the adventures you'll have in it. My legs are not at all suitable for short dresses (!), but like you I'm happy that they do all the things that legs are supposed to do. They even took me for a run this morning! Now all I need is a pretty dress like yours. CJ xx

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  4. This is a lovely dress Gillian. I am glad you are not worrying about your legs anymore, no doubt they are just perfect. You are right, we should be grateful for a well functioning pair. My feet hurt, a lot and I miss the time when I could just get up and go. xx

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  5. what an amazing dress. I love it! Where did you buy it?
    and it's all about confidence, it also took me some time to learn that. I bet you look great in that dress!!!

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  6. What a gorgeous dress and I'm so glad you bought it and wear it, It's the sort that makes you smile just to look at it! I would love to wear more dresses but they all make me look pregnant. Or should I say my fat belly makes me look pregnant in dresses!! I would blame having 3 kids but as my youngest has now turned 16 I should blame 16 years of not doing sit ups, lol.

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  7. Great dress. I have a couple of dresses from this great company and I get complimented on them. My spare tyre is my bug bear though!

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  8. I love a dress with a story and I love the tag 'you look lovely today' in your dress! I love dresses but never find many that fit except the jersey wrap over front kind. I have a large bust, so if it fits me across the bust, its too big on the shoulders! x

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  9. Gorgeous dress. I would have jumped at buying it too. Funny - I have the same hang up about my legs only that mine are thick and round. I have been attending the gym 3-4x a week during the last year and I have found that strengthening and toning my legs a bit has give me the confidence to expose them more. They are no more "skinny" or smaller in diameter, but they feel toned and lithe, much easier to expose. And you know the other thing that is finally helping me "get over it?" I turn 40 this year and, heck, I'm not letting anything stop me anymore! Confidence has taken many years to grow, but I think I have it in spades these days. And you know what ? My legs look all the better for it!!

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  10. Gorgeous dress! I'm glad you are wearing it and enjoying it, despite how you feel about your legs! And you're right about the "age" thing. As I have gotten older, I worry less over my body shape, and try to be happy and comfortable in my clothing. It is difficult sometimes, but so freeing when I can do it. :-) I really love the label in the dress too! So fun to think about that while you are out having fun in your pretty dress. :-)

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  11. What a fabulous dress! I'm sure you look knock-out in it. The whole body image thing is a tricky one; I'm trying to instil a healthy dose of self-esteem in my daughter who, even at age 11, is starting to worry about various bits and pieces. It's not just my daughter; my teenage boys have their various hang-ups too. It doesn't help that we are bombarded by images of so-called 'perfect' bodies. We shouldn't let our perceived imperfections hold us back from wearing (or doing) what we'd like to. Sam x

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  12. The trouble is though that people ARE looking. They seem now to hone in on all our body parts and if any one of them is wanting that person is dismissed as flawed. Lots of seemingly nice normal people do it. I had a mother who was very critical, who when I was a size 10 demanded I should be an 8 who thought she knew how much I should weigh - she was a larger woman herself, she still points out the faults in others though. So, to avoid any kind of criticism like that, I have always covered up. For me, even though I am very slim I do have a rounded tummy. It isn't an exercise thing, I have fat there. As a tiny stick insect it is still there, it is how I am constructed. With my mother giving me a complex for life I have avoided dresses for most of it. Funnily enough, compliments from others didn't do that much to get rid of the unease, the feeling that I wasn't enough. As a teenager those feelings were pretty bad.

    So now as I am in my middle years, where it is starting to all weather a bit. I am finally confident enough not to care. It is said that older people are happier with their appearance than younger ones. It isn't that we feel we look better. We don't. We simply feel better about how we look. That is only a good thing. So I am used to my relatively cuddly tummy - it isn't going anywhere after all and what with the arrival of the lines and blemishes, it is just one of many imperfections these days. The thing is I look fine. I must admit that clothes are just not something that interests me. I have very few. I like pretty but jeans and a pretty top are about all I wear. I don't see them as having a bearing on my life at all. They don't alter me or change me and don't have power to make me imagine life differently. I can't remember when I bought something last, several years ago or more. I just don't enjoy it.

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  13. I would like to wear dresses more than I do but have the same issues about my legs, although at 61 I suspect they are more real than imagined - the first varicose vein appeared at 21! I try to remember to be grateful that they are fully functioning and a tan helps a little, but not much. Tights are hot and uncomfortable and none of my shoes seem suitable so my default dress code is trousers, trousers and more trousers. Luckily I have found some in a quirky shape that I love, so I'm happy with that. Weddings are a nightmare though and there's one coming up in September.

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  14. Love the dress, such a pretty colour! I have 'leg issues' too: mine simply don't tan, so they stay milky white all summer. xxx

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  15. Oh I saw that dress in a shop when I was at home in May and I loved it too! The print! The shape! I'm very envious you have it. I ended up buying my Dad some SeaSalt socks for his birthday. But now I wish I'd bought the dress. I hate my bum. It's very sticky outy. But I hate it less now than I did a few years ago. My Mum assures me the best thing about getting older is really care less and less about what other people think. Have fun in your beautiful dress x

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  16. It's a gorgeous dress. It's also my kind of dress, although I'd need a larger size. I tend to wear skirts though, often really long ones ... with me it's my knees I prefer to keep hidden. One has a large scar and both are chunky and always have been, even when the rest of me was mostly skin and bone. Oh, and like Isabelle I don't tan. I wonder how much older I have to be to get over my knees!

    I loved this post Gillian :o)

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  17. Your dress is very pretty. I am sure it looks lovely on you, being tall and slim. If I wore it, I'd look like a matronly old woman. I carry all my weight in my belly and chest, so I have to be careful about defined waists and button-fronts. I don't mind anymore, though. I've spent too long wondering why my body looks like an apple on toothpicks, but it's just the way I am.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry about this - accidentally commented as my wee daughter!

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  19. Ooh, pretty! I found a Seasalt shop in Lyme Regis when we were on holiday and spent a happy 20 mins ogling everything :o) I didn't love anything more than anything else though, so came away with nothing on that occasion.
    I am more and more determined to dress in clothes that make me feel cheerful. I don't hold with judging people by the way they look, and am not that interested in fashion really, but especially after sinking into a uniform of jeans and old tops whilst my children were little, it's amazing the difference your clothes can make to your outlook and how you feel about yourself. I think the colours that we surround ourselves with can have a big impact on how we feel.

    (I love the blue and orange together -very happy colour combo :oD )

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  20. When I feel that way about my legs in a certain skirt or dress.....I wear shorter leggins with it......you could wear cute white ones with that dress.....I have black ones that I wear with a LOT of my dresses and skirts....especially when it starts to turn to Fall weather!!

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  21. I think you find your style as you get older. I have always hated my legs too but as I get older I am realising no one else can see what I see so hopefully in my 40's I will have the confidence to wear the clothes I really want to. That said I still avoid ironing!

    Ps I think you could wear the dress with a t shirt underneath in spring and early Autumn, but maybe that is just me! x

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  22. Your dress is really lovely! When I was young and foolish, I believed I shouldn't wear dresses as my legs are chubby. Now I know better :) and wear skirts and dresses most of the time. And leggings are great for layering in colder weather.

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  23. A lovely dress and a great attitude! My biggest problem is my face haha so there's not much I can do about that but I am also not fond of my legs. My thighs are too fat and worst of all, I have seriously bad thread vein largely either side of my knees and down my calves (I think from a car accident when I was 18 in which I badly bruised both knees) and that makes me hate getting my legs out. They only get worse too,

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  24. Justifying the purchase of a dress did make me smile, I do agree with how the perfect dress can make a person feel, but I don't think a pretty dress needs justified, you deserve it!
    Much love to you and I Hope you have a great weekend,
    Tammy x

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  25. Hey Gillian,
    I adore this dress! I tried it on a couple of months ago. I loved it, and decided to buy it. A couple of days later I saw my Neighbour in the exact same dress. And I thought to myself that she looked so much better than I ever could; her being all Jackie O and petite and everything. I took it back the next day. So wear that beautiful dress with a swing in your step and swish of the hair. For me. As for the legs; I have awful veins that are due to be fixed in October. So there's always that option when you are as ok as me 😁
    Wonderful post, my friend.
    Leanne xxx

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    1. I bet you also looked lovely in this dress and enjoyed it when you first bought it so please don't compare yourself to others as you don't need to worry. Just enjoy it for you.
      PS I've seen this on sale recently....x

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  26. I love Seasalt clothes! The striped one in my post is by them, as is my yellow coat. There's something beguiling about nautical clothing, isn't there? Cable knit jerseys and Breton stripes. And that jaunty boat print too. Good for you for treating yourself, and for braving your insecurities. I quite like my legs (especially when they're encased in woolly tights) but hate my upper arms. Silly really - we all know those magazine pictures are airbrushed and enhanced so why compare ourselves?
    I'd rather eat a bit of cake and wear a cardigan. Speaking of, a little cardi would extend the summer dress season and look fab. As would a denim jacket 😊
    Sarah x

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  27. Just Loved your post today. I used to do the same with my upper arms and then I thought who cares!! They are arms and I hold them outstretched at tribal belly dance for hours and they serve me very well. Dancing for 6 hours at the Shrewsbury folk festival this week end and if people don't like them they can shove off and watch some Morris dancing!! It is a simply beautiful dress and will serve you well for many summers to come. Jo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Love this post btw, Did I mention that!

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  28. I love the dress, you have woven such a lovely story around it! I am a dress lover but being photosensitive I tend to go for longer styles. x

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  29. Lovely dress Gillian (reminds of summer days on the beach), and we all have bits we're not sure about, but what the heck! As long as it all works properly, we are the lucky ones. Think I've been watching too much DIY,SOS and seen what so many people have to go through. Take care.

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  30. What an empowering post. Seasalt clothes are lovely, I used to buy them years ago on holiday from a shop in Fowey. I still have and wear a favourite wraparound skirt in cotton seersucker. Cheers to you Gillian for the next time you wear your sailboat dress!

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  31. Gorgeous dress, think I might go online and find it for myself! I think all us women have insecurities about some body part, but I guess we just have to accept we can't all be gorgeous supermodels, and accept that as we age we will have wobbly bits, wrinkly bits, saggy bits - just wear a pretty dress and forget about the rest! Xx

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    1. OMG!!!!!! Just been on their website, and not only do they have a sale on, but that dress is in the sale!!!!!

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  32. I love that dress!!! The style, print and the red piping - gorgeous!!! I would have struggled to walk past such a dress without thoughts of it coming home with me....the only thing missing from the post is a picture of you wearing it xxx

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  33. It is a very pretty dress, and you are right to wear it without thinking of the shape and tone of your legs - I am sure they look perfectly alright to everybody else! We are our own worst critics, and it is about time to stop believing we should (or even can) look like models and celebrities (who don't look all that fantastic once you see them in real life and without the photoshopping and airbrushing and being made up specifically for the photo shoot, and pictures taken in just the perfect light and from the perfect angle..!).

    So, wear dresses whenever you feel like it!!
    (I bought three this holiday... they will of course appear on my blog in their own due time.)

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  34. Love your dress and your attitude. I hate my legs too and only wear maxi dresses in summer (In which I imagine myself wandering through fields and city squares in a big straw hat). Autumn dresses are calling me now tights and boots are on the horizon and I think I might just buy the one I've been eyeing but wondering if it's too short

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  35. The blue of that dress just shouts out SUMMER. Just the sort of dress to wear now to remind yourself that it is still August! In my case it is knees...all dresses have to cover my knobbly knees or I am very sel conscious. B x

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  36. That's a beautiful dress, Gillian! I love anything nautical - it always flatters the wearer!- and i love dresses... I have quite a colection :-) for the summer and winter. there's something magnetic about them, i am always drawn to them for some reason.... They are versatile and come in different shapes so i think everyone can find the right one for their body shape. I love this stage of my life (41) in which I feel better than ever, embracing myself and my life with all its imperfections and like you confident enough to no longer give a monkeys about what the people that don't matter think.
    Enjoy wearing that dress and many more in the future and let's hope that September's weather is nice and warm to be able to wear summer dresses for a bit longer!
    Pati xx

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  37. Love this dress, and have its older sister (ie the Lottie dress from the year before, without the lovely stripes round the bottom). Like you, it was love at first sight, though I rarely wear anything that emphasises my waist, as that also sadly emphasises my bust. Don't even get me started. However a bit like you with your legs (and I am sure they are very nice legs) the dress was just too lovely to dismiss and I love mine to bits and have worn it loads. X

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  38. It was only in my late twenties when I really started liking dresses. I like that they make me feel feminine and they're my favourite to wear at summertime. But since having kids I've developed allergies and other skin problems. Lately I've been told that I'm now photosensitive and should be more careful when out and about in the sun. It's all got to do with hormonal changes brought by pregnancy and all that. Very annoying. But then they're
    conditions that can be sorted with creams and a good sun hat. It's not much really compared to what I got out of it- my girls. X

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  39. Beautiful dress! I can see why you like it so much! xx

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  40. Love the dress - I even toyed with the idea of this dress for myself (even though I won't see 70 again, but hey, who's counting?) but decided no, it wasn't quite right for me as I'm short and, let's face it, I won't see size 16 again, let alone size 14! But I did buy some great Crew Clothing dresses last autumn and loved them, and a Seasalt mustard scarf which goes so well with my navy pea coat. This dress is very much like one I had in the 1950s, almost exactly the same pattern and style ... what goes around, comes around!
    Margaret P

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  41. What a gorgeous dress! And even better that you feel great in it and the pretty print makes you smile.
    Marianne x

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  42. I absolutely love the dress, and what we now need to see is you wearing it in the pub garden in the sun! Loved your thoughts in this post. The awful thing is when we realiser how great our bodies were when they start to stop working so well! Xxx

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  43. I love the dress, in fact I love most of the clothing with a sea salt label. I treated myself to one of their dresses this summer, a long one, right to the ground to hide my legs. I wish I had the confidence to wear it at any time of the day rather than keeping it for that special occasion which come along so infrequently.
    I bet yours looks wonderful!

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  44. Clothing can work magic on our confidence can't it.
    I love the dress and can completely understand why you fell in love with it.
    Here's to lots of happy days wearing the happy dress.
    Lisa x

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  45. Oh, I am wishing you a warm, sunny September just so you can wear the dress in the beer garden!

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  46. oooo ooooo oooo I love that dress, its so pretty. I know what you mean when you said you just have to have it. I was in Devon last week & saw a dress that made my heart skip a beat & I knew there & then it had to come home with me!! here's to a sunny September so we can step out loud & proud in our dresses!! xx

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  47. Funny, isn't it, how it suddenly dawns that you don't give a stuff what anyone thinks about what you're wearing. I agree with all the other commenters that your dress is so very pretty and can see why it had to be yours. I love that full skirt style. Go twirl, my friend.

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  48. How funny, I too bought this Dress in Chi, back at the beginning of the Summer. But I've not worn it yet because I don't like my legs! It's a bit too long to wear with leggings, which is what I usually do. Maybe next year I'll be braver. xxx

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  49. a great post Gillian, yes to that moment where you hope beyond hope that the dream dress fits (I had one of those recently!) and yes to getting to that point where you remember not to care what anyone else thinks. x

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  50. I too have a tendency to cover my legs which means that they get no colour in the summer; as a result, my arms and legs look like they belong to different people! :o) I love your dress, wear it with pride xx

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  51. I too have a tendency to cover my legs which means that they get no colour in the summer; as a result, my arms and legs look like they belong to different people! :o) I love your dress, wear it with pride xx

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  52. Your dress is gorgeous and I'm sure you look really great in it. I love dresses. There's nothing quite as dressy as a dress, is there? But my legs aren't good - thread veins and really bad varicose veins. So I've avoided wearing dresses most of the time. Until this year. You're right about age giving you more confidence (not that I have much at all!). I bought a few dresses this summer and have worn them. I wear them with support tights that help disguise the veins and I don't care that it's a fashion no-no. It's the only way I can wear a dress so I'm doing it.

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  53. Love the dress and love the decision to wear it! We waste so much time not liking bits of ourselves. I spent years hating my stomach. Weirdly now when it is actually carrying some fat and wearing operation scars I like it better than I did when it was smooth and young. Perhaps I just grew up.

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