The Dress With a Story in Arlington

The Dress With a Story in Arlington

The dress to wear to the first annual Teacher’s Festival which Dr. Soyini Richards founded to honor teachers

There was something about the dress inside the door at Eagle Cleaners. I just knew it had a story. I must have noticed the dress because the sequins sparkled in the sunlight from the window or maybe because it was impossibly long and beautifully embedded with purple and pink sequins.

Matt Srebrow, the manager at Eagle cleaners said, “Oh yes, I know that dress. It took me two hours to clean it. I had to clean it by hand — steam, brush and stain removal. It bleeds like crazy; if water touches it, it bleeds.  And it is so heavy. It is one of a kind.”

Dr. Soyini Richards, the proud owner of the dress, says she bought it at Signature in Georgetown for the first annual Teacher’s Festival which she founded this year to honor teachers. “We held the event at National Harbor. It was a big deal with 400 people. Teachers don’t get enough credit which is why I founded this group. We gave a teacher $1,000 and had prizes. 

“I’m all about education. I’ve been a professor for 23 years. I’m a school psychologist, and I’ve been grading papers since I was 8 years old and helping my mother who gave me her papers to grade with a key.”

She said, “The dress was the first dress I tried on [to wear to the event] and I bought it. The craftsmanship and delicacy was unusual. I said ‘This is the one that I want; I feel so amazing in it.’” Richards says the dress was perfect because it used the same color theme of the Teacher’s Festival, the yellow and red that were reminiscent of the colors in a box of crayons. 

The event was very elegant with a fashion show and, “I wanted to look the part.” Although she wasn’t willing to share the price tag, she said, “it is an investment. It’s the most expensive dress I’ve ever bought.” 

Richards confides, “I believe in divine appointment. I was appointed to wear the dress. I went to several stores and none clicked. This fit perfectly. I was proud of the moment.”

Richards admits that the dress is very heavy, so heavy that she couldn’t get the zipper to work because the material wouldn’t stay together. “I had to go from the hotel across the street to the event to have a designer and a model help me zip it up. I was so determined to wear this dress.” And it is so long that she had to wear 3-inch heels and the dress still brushed over the ground.

Although Richards doesn’t know if she will ever wear the dress again, she wants to keep it for the memory. “I have been told she should pack it down for the generations.”