Memories of Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax dresses and a nosegay

I am a word nerd. I think many bloggers are (whether they know it or are willing to admit it).

Back many moons ago, in my junior high school at the end of every year the 8th grade students participated in "Eighth Grade Graduation". It was a big deal. The school band played "Pomp and Circumstance" while the entire 8th grade class walked in a procession decked out in the finest dress.

Back then Jessica McClintock's Gunne Sax dresses were all the rage so there was a sea of 8th grade girls wearing long calico dresses with lace-up bodices and fancy cuffs on long puffed sleeves. The graduation ceremony happened on the afternoon of the last day of school day, so all the 8th graders showed up wearing this formal attire at the beginning of the school day. The first half of the day everyone went to their regular classes. Those of us girls in 7th grade got to watch the 8th graders gliding across campus from morning class to morning class in their beautiful dresses while we dreamed of the next year when we could do the same.

The year I was one of those starry-eyed 7th graders, one particularly stylish and gregarious 8th grade girl we all loved and admired wore a beautiful Gunne Sax dress while carrying in her hand what appeared to be a miniature wedding bouquet. I was enthralled by flowers even back then, and I thought it was beyond sophisticated and charming that she got to carry around this darling bouquet of fresh flowers. I was transfixed. I heard her mention again and again that this "nosegay" was from her mother.

"Nosegay"... it sounded to enchanting and alluring.

It was a word I'd never heard before.

My flower-loving-word-nerd heart was hooked.

I never forgot that day... that moment... that space in time... when I was introduced to the concept of a "nosegay".

According to Merriam-Webster:
"Nosegay" is a homegrown word -- that is, it originated in English. Fifteenth-century Middle English speakers joined "nose" (which meant then what it does today) with "gay" (which at the time meant "ornament"). That makes "nosegay" an appropriate term for a bunch of flowers, which is indeed an ornament that appeals to the nose.
Is it just the 7th grader coming out in me, or doesn't that still sound so enchanting and alluring?

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  1. Yes! The term "nosegay" is still an alluring word.

    And talk about going back in time--Gunne Sax dresses! I remember them being so very popular back in the day.

  2. Love the name "nosegay" and love the picture! My daughters got several of their "fancy dance" dresses at Gunne Sax. Was that the coolest store or what?

  3. It sounds both romantic and somewhat sophisticated to have a pleasing accompaniment for the nose. :)

    And my dear, you and I must be close in age because I can fondly remember those Gunne Sax dresses and still love that style to this day. :)

  4. 'twas the style, Gunne Sax dresses were. I wore a white one to my own 8th grade graduation. Graduated third in my class (big deal) and I had to give a speech. I can barely imagine the audience sitting through speeches by graduating middle schoolers.

    Anyway, love the flowers, and I hope you're renovations are progressing well.

  5. Word nerd. You have me nailed! I remember searching for the perfect Jessica McClintock dress for prom. beyond my budget! :(


  6. Being Canadian, we could only drool over the ad's in magazines, and dream of those dresses....sigh.

    Beautiful word, made even more beautiful by your words, and photos.


  7. I was never a Jessica McClintock fan - too fru fru for me. *smile*

    I do, however, love nosegays. There's something so charming about a tiny gathering of sweet smelling flowers.

  8. Oh My! So many questions! Did you just make this nosegay? It is lovely. I'd never heard the definition before so that was fun. So did you wear a Gunne Sax dress for 8th grade graduation?
    I loved those dresses. We went into the City to get them for Rebekah and I when I got married.


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