How I Found My Hugos Dress.

So, as a triple (ulp!) Hugo nominee, I needed to find something to wear to the ceremony.

That has now been taken care of, thanks to Elise Matthesen.

If you don’t know Elise, she makes jewelry. Beautiful jewelry. In fact, she created the necklace-crown that I wore to last year’s Hugos, which she kindly loaned me. She is also the creator of the necklace that Lois McMaster Bujold uses to hold all of her pins for her various award nominations.

Elise is the kind of person who collects as many stories as she creates, often in exchange for jewelry. Each year at WisCon, she throws a Haiku Earring Party, in which guests are encouraged to take a pair of earrings, in exchange for a haiku that they must write about those earrings, based on Elise’s prompt. This year, my earrings were in exchange for a haiku on “The Origins of Writing.”

So, at WisCon, I saw Elise for the first time since the Hugos, at her table in the dealer’s room. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi Elise! How are you!” (There was hugging. We are friends.)

“I’m doing well. I know what you’re wearing to the Hugos.” *gentle smile*

“No, I’ve only begun shopping. I’ve absolutely no idea what I’m wearing yet.”

I begin admiring a series of beautiful necklace-crowns on her table, in a bunch of different shades of blue.

“No worries” *shows me a gorgeous necklace of chemically treated quartz and several other stones, in a range of colors from gunmetal gray to deep peacock blues and greens* “It’s called ‘Where She Learned It’. Your dress will turn up, I’m sure.”

This necklace? Is AMAZING. It’s beautiful. And it’s very much me in a way that I have trouble describing, especially since it’s not my typical aesthetic (I tend to prefer delicate jewelry, and this piece has some heft to it).  We had a chat about loan vs. purchase, and I didn’t commit, because I didn’t know what I was wearing, etc.

My hands were shaking when I held it.

… the next day, Mary Robinette Kowal sends me a text message with a photo of herself wearing her Hugos dress, which she found in a boutique on State Street in Madison that I’d been meaning to get to. Did I mention that all formalwear was 20% off? Yeah.

Also, there was a dress NEXT to Mary in the photo that caught my eye.

Later that afternoon, Mary and Michael and Caitlin were helping me sift through dresses.

Less than 45 minutes and 10 dresses later, we found it. And it’s not the one I was eyeing in the picture.

It’s a perfect color and shape for me, a gorgeous combination of deep blue-green with slight irridescence. It needs some minor adjustments to switch it from a bit of chiffon over the shoulder to make it strapless, which looks better on me. Which Mary graciously offered to do, as she can sew and I cannot. It is floor length.

I bought the dress. And went straight back to the dealer room to show Elise.

Because this dress? Matches the necklace like they were meant to be together.

Reader, I bought that necklace-crown, which I will proudly be wearing to the Hugos. Along with the dress that was clearly meant to also be mine, to go with the necklace.

‘Where She Learned It,’ indeed.

I’m guessing it’s Madison…or San Antonio.



About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a nine time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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