Love, Loss and What I Wore Photo-Essay Contest

Every woman knows exactly what she was wearing at every pivotal moment in her life. Love, Loss and What I Wore is a staged-reading format show and is a series of sad, embarrassing, touching and funny monologues from women concerning all matters of their hearts and all matters of their closets.


So for our photo-essay contest we asked the obvious questions: What piece of clothing has meant the most to you?

Women (and men!) were encouraged to submit a photo and a 200-word essay highlighting a piece of clothing that held a pivotal memory in their life. We received a tremendous response, and now we want to share these stories with you. We’re highlighting each and every entry here, and we hope you feel inspired by them as much as we did!

3RD PLACE WINNER – Nan Hillmeyer

(Received a gift certificate for 2 tickets to any upcoming Underground production)


Nan’s Story: “In the spring of 1978, I was asked to my 1st high school prom. The search began for a dress that was befitting the occasion and a budding romance. It was discovered in a small women’s boutique in a northern Iowa farm town while visiting my grandmother. Mother said it was a bit too much for our budget…but alas, she said yes! This special 3 tiered dress was actually 2 dresses in one. The first 2 tiers were a knee length dress and then add the under slip that had the 3rd tier to make it floor length! Being 6 feet tall it was rare to find clothes long enough, so my mother had to creatively add onto the under slip. Add the matching sheer jacket and I was on cloud 9. This special dress left a lasting impression on me. So it was kept, stored, and pulled out from time to time, musing about styles of the ‘70’s, reminiscing about first loves, and admiring how my mother lovingly altered the dress.

Twenty four years, a husband and 2 young daughters later, I pull out the vintage dress and attend another prom… Geek Prom 2002…Thank goodness for the lace up bodice! A second chance to feel special in the spring…a full circle for my dress and I.”


2ND PLACE WINNER – Amy Leigh Kovisto

(Received a gift certificate for 2 tickets to any upcoming Underground production)

Amy’s Story: “I have always loved robes—especially those luxuriously soft robes that are so temptingly stocked in fancy hotel suites. If you wear one of those for an evening, good luck leaving without paying the excessive fee to bring it home. Luckily, I never fell victim to the trap! Many times, however, I wish I had, for I have always struggled with taking time for myself. Now that I am in my 30s, however, I have come to my senses. But it was my beloved Aunt Mary who first put me on the path to this glorious discovery.

In Mary’s final days battling leukemia, I stayed overnight with her at the hospital. After a night filled with stories and giggles that mentally transported us from the confines of the sterile walls, I woke to the reality that Mary’s life was nearing its close.

I momentarily shut myself in Mary’s bathroom. As I slid down to the floor with my back against the wall, one of many robes Mary had been gifted during her illness fell from the back of the door. One in particular, plush and corral-colored, covered me like a blanket. I hugged it tightly and then quickly rehung it.

I barely made it out of the bathroom before I heard Mary’s sweet voice urging me to pick a robe from her supply to borrow. Of course, I put on the corral one. I came out beaming, and Mary noticed, for she refused to let me leave without it. She told me she had so many, and this one was so “me.”

While elated by my new robe, I was saddened by what this sudden giving meant. Mary realized that she no longer needed material items, so she freely and joyfully gave of what she had whenever she saw an opportunity. That was a gesture I will never forget.

This April marks seven years since Mary left us, and not a day goes by that she does not cross my mind. Although the corral robe is now quite worn, I still wear it now and then. And every time I do, memories of my dear aunt Mary and how she lived that last year of her life comfort me and fill me with boundless gratitude and peace.”


1ST PLACE WINNER – Jeanine Williams

(Received a Love, Loss and What I Wore VIP package that included 2 tickets to a performance, 2 drink tickets, jewelry from Crystal Pelkey Designs, and a $25 gift card to Art in the Alley)


Jeanine’s Story: “This photo was taken at the fashion show at the Texas T (transgender) Party in 1997 in Dallas and I’m modeling a Jim Bridges panne velvet lycra dress that I, of course, had to buy. To say I was happy would be an understatement. Although I’d begun to go out “enfemme”, I was still finding my way, still keeping a low profile, still unsure of myself. After this, and the joy of truly feeling wonderful and to stand on stage in front of so many people, the foundation of confidence for being a woman, for being an important part of myself, was formed. The known and unknown feelings that I possessed finally came to rest and settled within my soul. For the first time in my life, I felt whole.

Eighteen years later I’m content to and usually do “blend in”. It’s not important that I might be “read” as it presents an opportunity to talk about my community. And although I may not be female, I am a confident, self-assured sophisticated and dignified woman and I love demonstrating that. No one can take that away from me and if I did so it would be like I’ve abandoned that part of me that I so deeply wanted to find.

I consider the day I wore this dress, which I still have and love to wear, to be my feminine birthday – and in essence, energy and spirit, experienced a singular feeling of having being re-born. I’ve been content, and happy to be me ever since!”


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