Expanding Emily Dickinson’s Wardrobe
This past weekend I sort of wandered around Brooklyn. As I jaunted past a two-story Burger King, humming my favorite Lesley Gore tune of the moment, I ran smack dab into the ghost of Emily Dickinson.
“Hi,” I said to Emily’s ghost, calmly. I had no reason to be flummoxed since this sort of thing occurs frequently.
“Never mind the chitchat,” replied Emily (rudely, if you ask me). “Let’s get down to brass tacks. A cute and charming 21st-century poet has translated every single one of my verse compositions, attracting new fans and admirers. I certainly don’t want these fans and admirers to only see me in my one outfit – my white cotton dress. I want the world to think that I am a fashion-conscious girl who possess a plethora of clothes. Can you assist me in expanding my wardrobe?”
“Yes,” I said. “Let’s take a train to the East Village and park ourselves in one of their numerous wireless cafes and look at style.com for inspiration for your new look.”
“No way, bitch,” was Emily’s response (another rude one, if you ask me). “The East Village has been violated by white faux-wealthy bisexuals who listen to electronic music. Let’s go to a wireless cafe here instead.”
So, the first look I had to find for Emily was for her inevitable trip to hell. In Emily’s lifetime, she never converted, which means she didn’t announce her adherence to the Christian faith out loud. Emily’s lawyer daddy Edward did. Vinnie, her sister, and Austin, her brother, did. But Emily abstained. Of course, I know, due to her poems, that Emily isn’t actually going to hell. Emily has had contact with God. He gave her a “crumb.” But outsiders don’t. So, even though Emily is really heading for heaven, what should she wear to hell? This Donna Karan look complies with Hell’s climate. The thin, transparent overcoat and the strapless dress allows her skin to breathe in hell’s horribly hot weather. The reddish-orange color helps her blend in with all the fires that will flame around, thus she can avoid interaction with some of hell’s denizens, like Allen Ginsberg, who will only want to babble to her about spontaneity and sodomy.
The next look had to be something splendid because it’s what Emily would wear around the girl she had a feverish crush on, Susan Gilbert. Susan came from a moneyed Connecticut family. Supposedly, her grandfather owned the first piano in his town. But to Emily, Susan was “my Susie.” When Susan was returning from a trip, Emily felt like her “absent lover is coming.” Emily wanted to hide from the wretched world “in dear Susie’s bosom.” Emily and Susan are lesbians, like Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson were lesbians. But who is the girl lesbian and who is the boy lesbian? Of course, Emily is the boy lesbian. She’s the writer. All writers are boys. Just ask VIDA. What do boys do? Well, a lot of them play sports. Emily needs to wear something suitable for athletic competition, which is why I recommended to Emily that she purchase Alexander Wang’s incisive interpretation of locker-room apparel.
The penultimate outfit must be something that Emily can wear when she meets Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Thomas wrote for the Atlantic. He’s a girl feminist. He probably reads VIDA. After a tête-à-tête with Emily, Thomas says, “I never was with anyone who drained my nerve power so much.” What could have stunned Thomas so sensationally? Emily’s outfit. She was wearing big 70s sunnies, a see-through spaghetti strap, shiny pink pants, a big floppy hat, and a corsage around her neck. Emily combined disco, mall trash, beachwear, and prom ornaments. This outrageously outstanding compendium is certain to overwhelm anyone, even boy feminists (who are known to be insufferably calm and cool).
Lastly, Emily needs an outfit to compose her verse in. Poetry, for Emily, was a battle. “The Smitten Rock that gushes! / The trampled Steel that springs!” sings Emily. With this war-ready millinery, Emily will be prepared for combat. No one has ever lost a war while their head bloomed with black feathers, nor has anyone succumbed to defeat while sporting a low-cut, see-through, gothic floral dress.