Dream Dresses: Stories



A low-cut little black dress for a deceased eighty-year-old woman? Florence Coleman’s last wishes are to be buried in a cherished little-black-dress. Even more complicated, there’s going to be an open-casket wake before her funeral. Everyone thinks Florence should go to her final resting place in a respectable blue suit. Everyone except Jane…Florence’s black-sheep-of-the-family granddaughter.


Lei sews beads on expensive designer bridal gowns at a factory. Alone and new to Canada, she spends much of her time wistfully thinking of her recently deceased mother. Then Lei is given a special job: she must sew real Akoya pearls and Austrian crystals onto a wedding gown that will sell for $52,000. All seems to be going well, until some of the crystals go missing.

“The tone and dramatic arc are carefully wrought…Scharper’s controlled expression and understatement touchingly illuminating….”—The Globe and Mail


Clara’s high school social life is overtaking her homework. Her harried mother is growing concerned. But what Clara’s mother doesn’t know are the plans of two “friends” to make her daughter more “sexy.” After buying a thong and push-up bra and undergoing a transformation, the “friends” want to help Clara find a boyfriend. But Clara isn’t so sure she wants to have a “sexy photo” taken after all…


Valerie has just had a baby and is coming home from the hospital. Her husband announces that he needs her to look “fabulous” at a gala dinner that’s important for his career. Can she do it? Hmmm. Valerie was planning to get-her-body-back anyway…but can she do it in six weeks?


Do we ever get too old to squabble about sharing clothes? Julia and Lillian are elderly sisters sharing an apartment in an assisted-living complex and they decide to get really dressed up for a community event. They manage to get their nephew, Frank, to take them to the hairdressers. Should they splurge and get their nails done? Even more important: whose turn it is to wear Mother’s pearls?


Dorothy knew—for years—that a family friend was molesting her young daughter, Holly. But it was too uncomfortable—and inconvenient—to acknowledge it. Instead, she dismissed it as Holly’s imagination. Now, after years of tension and estrangement, Holly is getting married. Dorothy wants to let bygones be bygones. She has a beautiful piece of antique lace for Holly’s wedding gown. Weddings are important family occasions. A time for family unity. Isn’t the issue of Holly’s abuse all in the past? According to Dorothy it’s all “water under the bridge.” Or is it time for a “Niagara”?


Victoria is in Grade Three and goes to a school where she must wear a drab and ugly uniform. Forced to wear “sensible” shoes, Victoria asks for a pair of truly spectacular red boots. Surely they will come this Christmas! Or will a child’s true shade-of-gray ruin her dreams?


Grace Morrison has acquired quite a spare tire—the proverbial “muffin top”—but she’s going to wear a tight-fitting dress to the annual Christmas Party anyway. At the gala her husband of 35 years starts paying attention to a younger woman. Will it be divorce or a diet to loose 20 pounds?


“Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”                 —Genesis 3:7

Hilary Scharper…is among other female authors who want to give respect to a subject too readily dismissed as slight. Ilene Beckerman [Love, Loss and What I Wore]…hailed the power of apparel. Linda Grant, the prizewinning British writer, has…emphasized the inescapable links between outer surfaces and the inner life….Without turning it into a big issue, Scharper has been motivated in part by a desire to loosen fashion’s stranglehold on the discourse on dress. —The Toronto Star