Claire the Klutz
The Creation of Claire's Country Dress
Claire Pendington was born and raised into a prosperous family. Her father was a commissioned artist of the King so their family was well-favored in court. Claire, a beautiful girl of fifteen, watched her father in his art room intently. She mimicked his styles, and often times he would let her work in his art room, with his pencils and various water-colors. Claire's only vice in the art room was that in the passion of creating landscapes, intricate designs, and even portraits she would wipe her hands on her gowns or spill water-colors on her dress.
Her father knew of her clumsy mishaps in the art room very well; he was always buying her new clothes and shaking his head in disappointment. One day her father was having a guest for dinner and they were to go to a court function. Claire was to attend and she was draped in a beautiful baby blue silk polonaise. This was Claire's first function at court and so her father told her, "Claire, please do not go into my art room before the guest arrives. I do not want anything staining your dress. You must be presentable." Claire looked up at him with her bright blue eyes and replied, "Father, you worry so. I will not stain my gown."
But Claire could not resist going into her father's art room before the guest arrived. She was working on her latest "masterpiece" and had to finish. She crept into the brightly lit space and approached her painting of the interpretation of her father's grounds. Just as she was finishing the weeping willow in her painting, she placed the sea-green water-color on the table in front of her. With her final stroke she swept the brush down the canvas and her wrist hit the jar of green water-color causing it to spill on the front of her new polonaise.
Claire quickly grabbed her maidservant, Anne, and ran to her bedchamber. She shrieked, "Anne, you must help me quick. I've spilled water-color and need to be fitted in something else immediately!" Anne quickly helped her out of the soiled dress placing it on the chair in Claire's bedchamber. She helped Claire into a pink petticoat, an elaborately laced stomacher, and an open robe. Claire glanced at herself in the mirror and shouted, "This won't due. I'm headed to court! Ah, my father just bought me a new mantua a few weeks ago. It's in the closet. Let's try it." Anne fetched the elaborate forest-green mantua from the closet and hurriedly helped Claire into it.
A servant came to to tell Claire her father's guest had arrived. As Claire descended the stairs, her father waited at the botttom. She was a site of pure elegance. He said, "Claire, you look absolutely radiant. Weren't you in something else earlier though, something blue perhaps?" Claire looked at him with her soft blue eyes and replied, "Father, a lady must change a few times to get her outfit just right."
The courtly event was spectacular. And when Claire and her father returned home that evening, Claire went to her chamber where Anne helped her prepare for bed. As Claire walked towards her closet, she noticed the soiled polonaise on her chair. "Anne, I would've expected you to get rid of this garment." As she held it up, she exclaimed, "Oh! Anne come look at this! Isn't it beautiful?" The green water-color had soaked and streaked the silk fabric creating a type of floral pattern. "I could design a dress from this. You know just today my father was speaking of my cousin, Mary, who lives in the country. He was saying that she is to be married. I know just what I can do!"
Claire was hard at work, back in her father's art room. She began designing in pencil floral patterns on an open robe. She was designing a new country wedding dress. She immediately took her designs to her father's tailor who transposed her images and patterns into a printed dress. Claire rejoiced at the finished product.
Claire gave the dress to her cousin, who absolutely adored it, as did many of the guests at the wedding. Soon Claire was bombarded with inquiries and requests about her country wedding dresses. Soon she opened a shop in collaberation with her father's tailor called Claire's Country Dress Shop. People came from miles around to purchase Claire's fine dresses. And while she still enjoyed artistry, she decided to stick to the pencils and leave the water-colors to her father.