The Birthday Dress

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Every year on my birthday, I wear a mildly inappropriate dress (inappropriate in terms of the occasion of celebration, i.e. “overdressed,” and not inappropriate in terms of NSFW documentation – glad we cleared this up). There was the year – my sophomore year in college – when I wore that floral silk number to Math 101 at 9:30AM and literally every other girl present was donning VS Pink sweatpants. “It’s my birthday!” I said with a shrug, adjusting my layered, billowy skirt, as if this information helped my case, in which it did not. Because birthday dresses, I’ve been told, are reserved for the 8-and-under variety.

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And of course, to that I say, “Never!” Because if there’s any concept I’m learning to apply in my 30’s, it’s to do whatever you want, man. Be a waitress at your favorite restaurant forever. Learn to play the drums. Ignore the real world. Travel extensively. Don’t travel at all. Wear a fancy birthday dress every year. Every day, even. Do it if it makes you smile. All the better, do it if it makes someone else smile.

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So this year, a birthday dress was in order. Ken’s birthday is two weeks earlier than mine, so we generally celebrate smack dab in the middle of the actual dates, but I don’t know, this year we were feeling itchy to get out of the house and date each other ASAP. So we put a night on the calendar for dinner out the weekend before Ken’s birthday and I planned to wear my fancy birthday dress, of course.

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A brief segment about this dress: Seattle designer Deborah Roberts emailed me seemingly eons ago about her line Silvae, and it kept showing up in my dreams over and over – visions of Pacific Northwest (thank you, The Killing) and Olivia Knapp illustrations doing the Mambo in my head. It’s the perfect blend of everything I love: minimal, sculptural but comfortable and flowy and art-filled. So of course, this was the dress. I’m prone to never wearing color, but hey, I can adopt some saturation for my annual birthday dress, right? Right. (If you’re in the market, her entire spring collection is 20% off for Design For Mankind readers with code “summersale”. You’re welcome, closets / I’m sorry, wallets.)

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Commence musings. The morning of our date, our babysitter had to cancel and our dinner plans were thwarted, but my birthday dress was calling my name from the depths of the closet and I couldn’t bear to ignore the siren song. So, this is the story of how we ended up in a parking lot – going nowhere, doing nothing – smiling for a camera and prancing around in a birthday dress when it wasn’t even my birthday, or my husband’s birthday, or any special day other than today – arguably the most special day of all.

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Dress: Silvae / Clutch: Franca / Shoes: Rachel Comey

  • That dress looks so lovely on you! What a wonderful tradition. I love The Killing and have a secret crush on Holder :)

  • Looking sharp, lady! Hooray for color, pattern, birthdays and doing whatever the heck you want on any day of the year. ;)

  • Beautiful dress and a beautiful smile! I fully support you wearing “inappropriate” dresses whenever you please. Oh – and guess what I recently did. Started taking drum lessons! Inappropriate for a girl my age? Nope! ;)

  • oh erin, i just find such delight in how you embrace what you want to do because it makes you happy and joyful. i say sport that birthday dress all month long if you want to!! xoxo!

  • So, so good, Erin. I wore sequins for my birthday to my office manager job in an engineering firm a few years ago (followed by maternity clothes, then I’m sure the next year there were milk products somewhere on my shirt…). I’m planning on sequins again in March. = )

  • This reminds me of some of your past “birthday dresses”….you look beautiful in this one, and I do hope that by the time your birthdays arrive you find a special place to go and celebrate together. Until then, continue celebrating each day as if it were your birthday!

  • What a great tradition!! And you look lovely in that beautiful dress.
    Wasn’t is Oscar Wild, who said: “you can never be overdressed or overeducated”. I love dresses and I love wearing them, so it would be ashame to leave them in the closet! Even at the construction site today (I am an architect) I wore a dress, but for work I always have leggings with me :-).

  • i’m forever overdressed, but i don’t even care.
    you always look amazing, but i can see the shine a little brighter in this one!
    thanks for the explicit permission to be fabulous.

  • There is always something to celebrate, even if it’s only the fact that we woke up with an orchestra of little birdies right outside our window or that little stone we got from our littlest one, all sticky because of his mysterious stickiness attracting powers. Life is awesome, isn’t it? And so are you.

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