For some, spending a week sequestered in a cabin in the woods with a dozen family members might suggest a horror movie and not a summer idyll. Fortunately, that is not the way I feel about spending time with my posse of in-laws and nephews and nieces.
Our plans for a post-Covid family reunion were hatched this spring before the Delta Variant added ambiguity to the future. Still, we forged ahead. The idea: convene in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania after over a year apart, and enjoy meals, hikes, talks, tarot readings, thrifting, foraging, birding, board games, poker, a Gettysburg History Hike, and general raucousness. All of us, ranging in age from 13 to adult (in age if not mentality), had been vaccinated.
Happily, everyone agreed to take part in a special edition of my All Dressed blog. We donned outfits that ran the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous (that would be my husband Matthew). A wooden path set in the woods behind our temporary home served as the perfect runway. The sunset greenery made for a bucolic backdrop. Sister-in-law Kate, who is a professional photographer, helped with the styling.
During Covid, Nell and Evan (my Michigan-based sister- and brother-in-laws) became expert mixologists (i.e. heavy drinkers) and they set up a bar and made cocktails for the evening.
My nieces Stella and Fiona went all out in long flowing dresses. They are twins, and though they share so much, the dresses they picked reflect their own unique personality and style. Fiona’s dress was a blush-pink flowery maxi, very ethereal and sylph-in-the-woods, and yet with a slim metallic belt and gold heels, she would have been reigning queen at Studio 54.
Getting into the All Dressed philosophy of dressing, Fiona choose jewelry that holds a special story: her turquoise and silver ring is a gift from her Grandma Nancy, her gold knot earrings are from her Grandma Betsy, and the Irish Claddagh is a gift from her mom Nell.
Stella’s lace dress was a rich mustard yellow. With her bare feet and long hair freed from braids, she reminded me of a cross between a Greek goddess and Joni Mitchell.
They found the dresses at Plato’s Closet, a Michigan thrift store; the name reminds me of the famous 1970s swinger’s club.
My nephew Augie wore a mushroom, evoking some lost character from Alice in Wonderland. In fact, the vibe of the evening was very Mad Hatter tea party. The hat belongs to his mom Kate who loves to forage for mushrooms.
Augie's brother Emmet wore a special hat, too, his with a lightbulb, and indeed Emmet always does have brilliant ideas that illuminate our dinner-table conversations.
My daughter Flora’s dress made me very happy. It is mine! I love to see her dressed in my clothing. I frequently return the favor, dipping into her own glorious vintage-filled closet. Flora is an expert thrifter with the most fantastic collection of clothing and earrings. This dress has its own special All Dressed story. It was gifted to me by my close friend Meema Spadola, and its magical design with silvery stars, swirls and circles makes me feel like a powerful sorceress when I wear it. I think Flora is an enchantress, too.
Flora and I glam it up on the woodland runway.
Kate, my sister-in-law and an early All Dressed subject, went camo. She blends in with the woods.
Along with her camouflage pants and shirt, note the scarf which features an urban camo theme -- a design of her own creation. If you look closely, you’ll see that it incorporates photographs she took of street signs and brownstones from her Fort Greene neighborhood. Also, check out the intricate henna design on Kate’s hand, which was applied with love and intense focus just hours earlier by our talented niece Stella.
Having grown up with Kate as older sister and photographer, my sister-in-law Nell is well practiced in the art of the fierce pose. She totally gives Anna Wintour a run for her money. The brown beach dress she is wearing is a well-worn favorite.
My brother-in-law Evan’s gone-fishing-theme outfit holds rich memories. The shirt belonged to his grandfather, who was an outsized figure from his childhood. Grandpa Bob was a San Francisco-based reporter and dapper dresser who would play memorable pranks on Evan. Evan's fishing hat similarly pays homage to Grandpa Bob who was a great angler and inspired Evan’s love of fly casting.
Like Evan, my sister-in-law Karla’s choices – there were two – were inspired by a family member, in this case her father, composer Peter Schickele. The first is a swirling sleeveless number purchased in a thrift store in Fargo, North Dakota during a trip a few years ago with her father to the town where he grew up to attend a concert in his honor.
The second is a groovy velvet tunic with embroidered ribbon piping that her father wore in the jazz-rock-classical-fusion phase of his musical life when he was playing in a band in the 60s called The Open Window. Just picture it with some flare pants and sunglasses! Karla was a wee baby at the time when he was wearing it; now she has followed in his footsteps and is an amazing singer, songwriter, musician and writer.
Matthew, my husband and distinguished New York attorney, went all out! Check out his mesh sleeveless shirt purchased at a wholesale store in Manhattan that has a sideline in Caribbean leisurewear. It is very in keeping with his love of the classic era of reggae. I think he looks very Austin Powers sexy. However, the mesh material which shows off his hirsute chest was too much for our daughters. He was forced to remove it.
I am particularly proud of my outfit. Not simply for its late 1960s Sharon Tate vibe. I purchased the dress on our vacation at a Pennsylvania Goodwill for $1. When I wear it in the future, it will forever hold joyful memories of this vacation.
We ended our All Dressed evening with drinks and dinner and card games and a bitterly fought game of Monopoly. I’m an early sleeper and at night, I lay in bed serenaded to sleep – not by screams of terror but by hoots and hollers and joyful, belly-splitting laughter.