The first time the writer Thomas Wentworth Higginson met Emily Dickinson, he remembered five details about the way she entered the room: her soft step, her breathless voice, her auburn hair, the two daylilies she offered him—and her exquisite white dress.
Dickinson’s white dress has become an emblem of the poet’s brilliance and mystery. When Mabel Loomis Todd moved to Dickinson’s hometown in the 1880s, she gushed about the poet’s attire. “I must tell you about the character of Amherst,” she wrote her parents. “It is a lady whom the people call the Myth … She dresses wholly in white, & her mind is said to be perfectly wonderful.” Jane Wald, the executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, believes Dickinson began dressing primarily in white in her thirties, and it was common knowledge around town that a white dress was the poet’s preferred article of clothing. Dickinson realized people gossiped about what she wore, and once joked with her cousins, “Won’t you tell ‘the public’ that at present I wear a brown dress with a cape if possible browner, and carry a parasol of the same!” Read More