storytelling {rebecca’s vintage black dress}

Hey friends! I’m linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for some fashion inspiration!

A couple weeks ago I found this black dress at one of my favorite thrift shops. When I bought the dress {for $4} it had long, sheer sleeves, shoulder pads and a belt around the waist. I cut off the sleeves at the seam, removed the shoulder pads and took off the belt. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love to dream up stories about my thrifted treasures and imagine the life they’ve had before I discovered them.

In my imagination, this dress has quite a story to tell!

The dress belonged to a girl named Rebecca in the 1980’s. Rebecca had long, wavy brown hair and a smile that made a room light up. Her college sorority was hosting a spring dance and Justin, her boyfriend of two months was planning to take her. The week of the dance, she got her bangs trimmed and her nails painted. She found black shoes and a sweet necklace to complete her outfit. Everything was coming together! The dress was perfect, how could the evening be anything but perfect?

The day quickly arrived. The night sky was clear and the stars twinkled like diamonds. Rebecca dabbed a bit of lip gloss across her mouth and let one more mist of white rain hairspray fall lightly on her feathered bangs. Just as she slipped into her new heels, the doorbell rang.

{scroll down for more of the story!}

{Dress, thrifted. Pink top, thrifted. Gray heels, H&M. Charm bracelet, my shop}

As they climbed into his Ford pick-up to make the short drive over to the dance, Rebecca noticed that Justin seemed quiet. He easily pulled the truck into a parking spot and made his way over to her side of the car to open her door. Rebecca couldn’t put her finger on it, but something strange was in the air. Was Justin acting different or was she being crazy? As they walked into the dance, he put his arm around her and gave her a reassuring squeeze. The dark room was  lit only by small twinkling lights. The DJ was playing a slow song and everyone was swaying to the music. And then it happened…

* * *

Okay, friends! Here’s where you come in. Leave a comment and tell us what happens next. I’ll pick one ending and the winner will get a $50 gift card to my shop! Let your creative juices flow!!


  1. I’ll immediately clutch your rss feed as I can not to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me know in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  2. I know this is closed, but I just read this story with Justin sitting right next to me….we did our best making out in his old Ford pickup truck! 😉
    Yes! He did ask me to marry him. We got married on Dec. 31, 2005, pregnant with Joshua Jan. 4th! Two years later we moved to Bakersfield, CA from Kansas.
    After a few devastating miscarriages, I gave it all over to the Lord because He obviously had another plan. In July, 2011, I got a text from someone asking me to adopt. My sweet son had been praying for a baby sister and I knew this must be the way God was going to answer him.
    On March 13, 2012 we returned to Kansas to welcome our little Zoey girl into the world. What a blessing she has been to all of us.
    Justin continues to teach people to fly at our flight school in Bakersfield, Excell Aviation.
    We love spending our free time at Avilla Beach and my biggest wish is to stop in and meet you all at Lisa Leonard Designs! 😉

  3. I asked Justin what was wrong that he seemed distant. With a single tear running down his cheek, he replied that nothing was wrong. He explained that he was liking all the time they’ve been sharing and was wondering where their relationship was heading. He felt like he was falling in love but it was a new feeling and wasn’t 100 percent sure. He really wanted a sign that this was love.
    He asked her where she got the dress she was wearing. She answered that she bought it at the Goodwill since she couldn’t afford a fancy new dress. At that point Justin took her outside so they could talk in private. He explained that his sister Jane had died 6 months ago. His mom just couldn’t bear seeing the dress hanging in her room. It was the dress she was supposed to wear to her senior prom, but she had died a month before the prom. He had dropped the dress off at the Goodwill the day they had met 2 months ago.. seeing her in the dress was a sign from his sister that they were meant to be. In a whisper Justin said for the first time “I love you.” And it wasn’t the last time he would say those 3 little words to Rebecca.

  4. …Justin let out the foulest fart she had ever smelled! The stench quickly traveled and soon the dance floor had entirely cleared out.

    Rebecca didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or puke. Should she pretend she didn’t smell it? Or tell her date how disgusting he is? Or maybe just make a joke to ease the awkwardness and then they could move on and try to still have a romantic evening together?

    Just as Rebecca was about to muster some sort of clever quip, she noticed that not only had all the other couples left…Justin had left, too!!

    She was standing in the stench alone! And everyone was staring. And some girls were pointing. A a few guys were laughing.

    This was the worst night EVER!

    * * *

    Weeks later, Rebecca stilled heard the occasional snicker as she walked through the halls. She was still a little mortified, but was mostly over it. Justin never called her after that night. So more than anything she was hurt and confused and still pretty pissed that he had just bailed like that.

    Then one Thursday afternoon she came back from class to see a note shoved under her dorm room mat. She opened it up. It was from Justin. “Becca, I’m so sorry about that night. I’ve been too embarrassed to call you or come by…you see, I have this thing called IBS. I was so excited about our date that night, but I was having a flare up and my stomach was all in knots, and well…I guess you know what happened. Anyhow, I’m taking some new meds and feeling better. But more than that I’m missing you! I think we really could have had something great. If you think you can forgive me, please call or page me. I got Vanilla Ice tickets for Saturday night. I’m hoping you’ll be my date to the concert. -Justin”

    Rebecca smiled. He did care. And it wasn’t really his fault. Just a stupid misunderstanding. Kinda funny actually, she thought to herself. She opened her closet to see if she had any concert-worthy clothes for Saturday night. Then she saw something wadded up at the bottom of her closet. It was the black dress! She had been so upset that night she had just shoved it it down there and forgotten all about it.

    She grabbed it and started to shake the wrinkles out. But at the very first fluff she was overpowered by an awful smell. The fart at stuck in the fabric!

    She grabbed Justin’s note and a red Sharpie and wrote over his words in big letters, “NO THANK YOU!!”

    Then she stuffed the black dress inside a plastic bag and wrote “Goodwill” on the outside.

  5. …the lights came on and Rebecca could plainly see that everyone in the room was a zombie! She turned to run, but Justin stood between her and the door. When he faced her, she could see the blank look in his eyes and the skin falling back from his ear, where he had carefully placed glue to hide his condition. Could this REALLY be happening? A zombie apocolypse, right NOW? She had gotten her bangs trimmed for THIS?!? She kicked off her high heels, stopping only long enough to stab Justin in the eye with her stilletto, and ran for her life. She made herself a solomn vow: if she survived, she would discard this dress at the first thrift store she came across.

  6. …the lights came on as the sounds of “Karma Chameleon” filled the room, Justin reluctantly lifted his head from Rebecca’s comfy shoulder pad. Rebecca scanned the room and realized that every girl in the was wearing a miniskirt, lingerie as outerwear and lace gloves. It was in that very moment that Rebecca wisely decided it was time to take her beloved black dress to the thrift store. Unbelievably the dress would sit in that very same thrift store for 30 years awaiting the arrival of its next worthy owner, the only one who could give it a new beginning.

  7. just weeks ago, Rebecca had shared how she was going to tell her parents that she wanted to be an actress.

    Justin had kept his cousin’s name a secret just in case he wasn’t able to get them a spot in the ‘extra’ crowd.

    When Michael had said it would be no problem – he almost told her right then. The entire ride over was an exercise in self-control. He wanted to tell her so badly. He arrived an hour early to the gym they were going to film the dance scene in, just to give her time to calm down after he told her.

    The lights came up and there it was… the director’s chair that read ‘Back to the Future’.

  8. CRASH…a dusty box toppled down from the shelf of her closet and she was immediately transported back in time by the black material peeking from it’s corner. Inside was more than just a little black dress, hidden inside the folds of sheer material was a yellowed, torn piece of paper that read…”I will love you forever and always”. Rebecca gasped as she recognized Justin’s handwriting and heard his voice as she read his last words to her while dancing alone in her nightgown as the skirt of the dress twirled around her bare knees and the tears began to fall from her beautiful lashes…she finally remembered everything about their amazing night together. The accident had left her with so many questions and even more unknown answers. Would the words scribed on the yellowed dance ticket bring comfort and understanding to a daughter who never had the chance to meet her father? Rebecca could only hope Justine would finally hear their story and understand she was loved and always would be!

  9. The music stopped and the twinkling lights gave way to harsh florescent lights. Seated in a semicircle were her parents, sorority sisters and two best friends. She instantly realized why Justin had been so nervous. She thought she had kept her drinking problem a secret, but no, now she realized he had slowly gone from romancing her to being more of a good friend. Now it all made sense. Rebecca was horrified, embarrassed, and angry. She tried to run, but Justin held her firmly in his trembling arms.

    At this memory, Rebecca folded the dress she had named Redemption and placed it in the Goodwill box. She smiled at the thought that a young man could be so brave and truly be her knight in shining armor. So much had been lived since then. And Justin, now her husband, resembled Yul Brynner more than Tom Cruise. She was ready to part with the dress, renaming it Joy, as was the condition of her heart. She pictured an artsy woman owning it, remaking it and wearing it with a twinkle in her eye.

  10. Kelly Kapowski stepped boldly out of the shadows and posed, one hand resting assertively on a hip. She was feeling fiesty, as her bangs had given her a little trouble that night.
    “Hey, Justin,” she said in a sing-song voice.

    Justin’s hand dropped away from Rebecca’s back. Rebecca looked from Kelly to Justin and back again. A feeling of dread began to grow inside of her.
    “Uh, hey, Kelly,” he quietly said as he tried to sidle past her.

    She grabbed his strong forearm, wedging herself between Rebecca and her cute, sweet {uh, wasn’t he? WASN’T HE? she wondered} boyfriend.
    “What’s up with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm here? Is this her?”

    “Justin, what’s going on?” Rebecca pleaded.
    Justin’s eyes looked panicked as they began to dart around the room.

    “What’s going on here, Miss Tri-Delt, is that our man here has been playing us.”
    Justin yanked his arm from Kelly’s grip.
    “OUR man?” squeaked Rebecca.
    “Ever notice how much he has to ‘study?'” Kelly questioned. She threw the last word to Justin.

    “Justin, what is going on?” cried Rebecca. Was this really happening to her after two long months of heaven? Could he really not be the one? Rebecca thought she might throw up.
    “Rebecca, I wanted to tell you, but you just looked so hot in that dress,” he pleaded.

    “Is there a problem here?” Zack stepped up behind Rebecca and put an arm around her. Zack? She thought he didn’t know she existed.

    “Because I couldn’t help but overhear that you, my friend,” he pointed at Justin, “have a little situation on your hands. Let me solve your problem, man.” And, with that, Zack took Rebecca’s hand and led her out onto the dance floor. Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” began to play, and Rebecca found herself speechless. She looked back to see Justin try to kiss Kelly, but she slapped him and walked away.

    “Focus on the postiive,” she told herself as she turned her gaze back to Zack. Debbie sang, “I don’t mind not knowing what I’m headed foooooor….”
    The End.

    1. This is seriously amazing. You really drew me in with the sassy dialogue! Girls do love guys that save the day and make them feel special! Thanks Kelli 🙂

  11. and then it happened…he gently took her hand and confidently lead her out to the dance floor. Rebecca wasn’t much of a slow dancer. In her mind, she tried to remember her roommates’ coaching, recalling how the girls had practiced their slow dancing in flip flops in the living room the night before. “Do I put my hand on his shoulder or his waist?”, she thought to herself. Just then, Justin pulled her in close all her nerves melted away.

    He was different than any other guy she had known. First just friends and now something more. She had just resolved to pour herself into her relationship with Jesus and not think about boys for awhile and then came Justin. She was so comfortable and confident around him and although it had only been 2 months she knew God had plans for their future. In the dark dance hall, sparkling with dreamy twinkling lights their eyes met and Justin leaned in for their first kiss! A sweet and tender kiss while his hand gently stroked her long brown hair. Rebecca’s heart skipped a beat and she found herself beaming with a smile from ear to ear. “You are so beautiful and I really like you”, Justin said. “I like you too”, Rebecca whispered back, still uncontrollably grinning.

    “I want us to be more serious, to date intentionally and see what the Lord has for us in this relationship”. “I want us to date with purpose, with the intention of marriage”.

    Rebecca nodded, feeling her heart swell with joy and praising God for His timing and faithfulness. “Why do I doubt you Lord?”, she thought. She looked up at Justin and said, “there is nothing I’d like more”. He pulled her in close again and she wrapped her hands effortlessly around his neck as his hands fell to her waist.

    The slow dance ended and she spotted their friends entering the dance hall. The DJ turned on a song with a familiar beat, and the strobe lights flashed. Justin let out an “Oh yeeeh” and they both burst out laughing, all the weirdness of earlier in the evening was gone. Rebecca marveled at the boy turned man dancing in front of her and realized just how perfect the evening was.

  12. Justin looked into Rebecca eyes and said. You don’t need a life time to know when some one is meant to be. As Rebecca is hearing these words her heart and mind are racing. What is he thinking????? We have only been together for a short few months!!!! But oh how I love him. Am I crazy to say yes????So Rebecca looks back into his eyes she say’s yes. Justin smiles back and gave her a big hug and said. I am so happy you feel the same way. We can pick up the puppy on our way home:)Rebecca lets out a WHAT???? Justin says what is wrong as he see’s the hurt in Rebecca’s eyes!!! She lowers her head and Justin says you didn’t think I was purposing did you?? We have only been dating a couple of months. But Rebecca does not understand why Justin is smiling. Rebecca says I want to go home. Justin says lets go get the puppy and I will take you home afterwards. Rebecca still upset and feeling foolish agrees. As they are getting out of the truck a puppy comes running to Rebecca and she falls in love with his big Blue eyes. As she bends down to pick him up the puppy she sees a note around the puppy’s neck. Rebbecca will you marry me love Justin. Rebecca with tears of joy running down her face. Says yes. Justin said YOU DON’T NEED A LIFE TIME TO KNOW WHEN SOMEONE IS MEANT TO BE:) And Rebecca said we are not talking puppy’s anymore right???? They kissed with puppy in between the both of them. BlessingS

    1. You had me going there, I thought he was going to be completely oblivious! What a sweet ending 🙂

  13. a man and a woman, looking to be in their forties, were walking straight towards Rebecca & Justin. Rebecca looked at Justin, questioning who the couple was & why they were interrupting what was surely going to be the moment Justin proposed to Rebecca. Before Rebecca could say a word, the woman embraced her and held her tight. Rebecca, always feeling slightly uncomfortable with hugging tried to do the ‘three pats on the back’ to indicate that she was ready to let go. Instead, the woman hugged tighter and the man looked at her and said softly “Renee, your mother has been waiting 19 years to hold you again.” The shock of being called the wrong name caused Rebecca to quickly pull away from the woman and she looked at the two of them like they were crazy. “My, um, well, my name is Rebecca & I have no idea what you are talking about…” Justin grabbed her hand, squeezed it reassuringly and gently suggested the four of them go outside to the veranda to get some air & talk about that night, almost 20 years ago, that this man & woman, just barely 18 at the time, had made the choice to give their Renee {who was later renamed Rebecca by her adoptive parents} a life that they were unable to provide.

  14. I love reading everyone’s stories! This is such a cool idea, Lisa, I hope you do it again!

    (I tried to write one but everyone else’s seemed so much better. . .happy just to read the others!)

  15. Rebecca woke with a jolt, her roommate, Claudia, burst through the door! Claudia stopped for a moment, mumbled something, grabbed her sweater and dashed out of the room. Rebecca slowly laid back down, closed her eyes and thought, “What a perfect ending.”

  16. …as Justin twirled her around the floor, Rebecca caught a whiff of the cologne that Ben used to wear. Ben had been listed as MIA, and three years had past since that last danced they had shared the night before he shipped out.

    Then, as in a dream, Ben was there holding Rebecca and they stood there embracing the middle of the dance floor, crying together.

    Rebecca thought how good it was to see her big brother again.

  17. He took her hand, led her to the dance floor and put those recent dance lessons to use! Justin had never been a good dancer, and was super nervous to show off his new moves. He led Rebecca all over the dance floor and everyone was extremely impressed with their gracefulness. Together, they boogied all night long, and then they danced together for years and years to come. Happily ever after…

  18. Justin said, ” I’m so sorry Rebecca, but, I just can’t do this anymore! I have fallen in love with someone else”. Poor Rebecca, she was heartbroken! She ran out of the room and called a cab back to her dorm. The next day she gave her beautiful dress away to the thrift store!

  19. I would have to omit: “And then it happened.”

    The D.J. was playing a slow song, and everyone was swaying to the music…

    While she wanted to enjoy the dance and have fun, Rebecca longed to get Justin alone and find out what was on his mind.
    “Can we go outside for a few minutes?” she asked soon after arriving.

    “Of course,” said Justin. Justin opened the door to the patio. Rebecca put her arms around herself as the cold February wind blew through the black dots of her dress. Without a word, he slipped off his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. The warmth felt safe.

    She sat on a low wall and watched him as he walked to the booth to buy them each a hot chocolate.
    “I hope you like whipped cream,” he said, as he sat next to her.

    When he finally told her, she listened intently.
    “My brother is in the Marines,” he said. “He has been in Lebanon, overseeing the departure of Palestinian fighters. Things stabilized over there, but we haven’t been able to know where he is for a year, due to the nature of his work.”

    The world stood still for Rebecca as he spoke. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of his face. There was a seriousness to him, a gentle strength she had never seen before.

    “Today we got word that he’s coming home.” A pool of tears filled his eyes; he blinked them back.

    Justin kept talking. He told her about his family and what it was like for him growing up after his father died. How his brother followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the military after college. How he had been trying to take care of his sister and mom during his brother’s absence. He spoke of his faith, and how he prayed that Christ would protect the rock of their family. A tear spilled over and he looked around. Gently, she wiped it away and they both smiled. In his face she saw relief.

    As Rebecca watched him lead her to the dance floor, something in her heart stirred in a way she had never known before. She admired him, and he became more than a friend. He became the man she loved. And even though their union wouldn’t come for some time, her heart had already made a silent vow.

    1. Aw, that’s adorable.. and so close to real life! Thanks for painting a picture of a Christ-centered relationship in such a fun way 🙂

  20. Rebecca gazed into Justin’s eyes. Not for the first time, she noticed the strange depth they seemed to have, and the way their hue shifted slightly from one moment to the next.

    “Your eyes,” she said. “I just love them. They are so unique.”

    Justin’s mouth curved up in a strange little smile. “There’s a reason for that,” he whispered. And then his eyes began to shift into ever-stranger colors…from turquoise to pale yellow to shocking pink to iridescent purple.

    At first, Rebecca was too shocked to do anything. Her feet stopped moving to the music, and she just stared. Finally, a word croaked out of her mouth. “What…?”

    “Becky,” Justin said, “aliens are real.” He let go of her, and his body slowly shifted. An extra arm sprouted out of his chest. His clothes changed into scales. Within a minute, Justin’s hair had been replaced by tentacles, and his eyes had settled on a muted green. The strange thing was, no one else at the dance seemed to notice, looking right past the couple.

    Rebecca did the only thing that made sense. She screamed (a B-grade horror movie-worthy scream, I might add) and sprinted toward the exit, her lovely black dress swishing with each step.

    “Becky!” Justin cried in a strange, bellowing voice. “Please come back! I may not be the man of your dreams, but I can be the extraterrestrial of your dreams! BECKYYYY!”

    But Rebecca was gone. As soon as she got home, she ripped the dress off, replacing it with a short and T-shirt. She took off her shoes and pantyhose, and threw the whole outfit in a trash bag. She drove to Goodwill, dropped the bag by the front door, and raced back home.

    “I would have given him another chance,” Rebecca muttered as she fell into bed, “but if I told him once, I told him a million times–don’t call me ‘Becky’!”

    1. You have our whole office cracking up! SO great! I think you have a promising future in horror comedies 🙂

  21. Rebecca noticed tears form in the corner of Justin’s eyes. The glistening drops intensified the color of his hazel eyes. Overcome with emotion, Justin leaned in and whispered those three words that had yet to be spoken. “I love you” he breathed into her wavy brown hair. Rebecca, in response, embraced Justin promising in her heart to never let go. It was as if all else in the room faded away. As they continued to hold each other, they knew that they’d found their forever dance partners.

    1. How sweet! I love the details you added! It’s true, when you’re in love everything else seems to grow strangely dim!

  22. Rebecca was walking a few steps in front of Justin when he grabbed her had and pulled her to his chest. Not facing each other Justin holding one hand with the other on her waist, whispered in Rebecca’s ear how lovely she looked tonight. Rebecca turned around with light in her eyes, kissed him on the corner of his mouth and said thank you. They walked to the dance floor hand in hand and danced the night away.

  23. this is super fun…

    Justin quietly asked Rebecca to walk outside with him. “Is everything alright?”, Rebecca asked quietly. “I got a call today…I’ve been accepted into that overseas program that I applied for before we met…they are really excited about the ‘great addition’ I will make to the group already there…I am supposed to leave by the end of next week…” Jusin trailed off. “You have to go,” Rebecca mumbled with tears started to roll down her cheeks. “I think I love you…,” Justin blurted out. Rebecca was so caught off guard by her own emotions. They had only been dating for 2 months. She blurted out, “I love you too!”

    2 long years later. Countless phone calls. Long letters back and forth. Tears cried. Feelings hurt.

    Rebecca and Justin married in the early summer of 1985. And that beautiful dress still hung in her closet and was taken to the thrift store when Rebecca realized she was starting to show with their first sweet baby.


  24. Lisa, you are so fun!


    Justin began singing Al Greene’s “I’m so in love with you” to Rebecca in her ear. The room slowly cleared out and it was just the two of them swaying under the twinkling lights. Justin professed his undying love for Rebecca in a deep whisper and the night ended with some more twinkle — a engagement ring was slipped onto Rebecca’s ring finger. Rebecca sealed the deal by finishing off the song in Justin’s ear.

  25. Justin started singing a song to Rebecca about their relationship. And while short, he made sure that the details were present-the first time he held her hand, the feeling he got when looking at her across the cafeteria, the laughs they had shared as well as the tears, and he shared why exactly he loved her. Rebecca was so focused on Justin that she missed her family and closest friends from home coming in close around them on the dance floor. Justin got down on one knee and asked Rebecca to be his wife and she said yes.

    Strange to think that Rebecca would give up the dress she was proposed to in. Win for Lisa!

  26. ” You look wonderful! I’m really crazy about you! Tonight could be the first night of many more great and fun times together.”

  27. Justin looked at her and said, Rebecca, you are beautiful…would you do me the honor of becoming my wife. Through tears, Rebecca answered joyfully, YES!

  28. she saw her reflection in the mirror and realized that the back of her skirt was tucked into her pantyhose…

    1. Ha! No wonder he was nervous in the car the whole time. “Do I tell her? Do I not? Oh my gosh, I can see her pantyhose!”

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