Bits 'n' Pieces: Woman's special dress transformed for show

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator

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When the Couve Couture Spring Fashion Show was held in April, it evoked memories of a special dress for Doris Sutton.

She read of local designer Alisa Powell Tetreault discussing her idea of a collection using vintage dresses.

"It rang a bell and I thought that maybe she could use my dress," the 80-year-old said.

That dress was the one she wore as Miss Redmond to compete in the 1950 Miss Oregon pageant. After winning the regional title, Sutton — then Doris Osenton — traveled to San Francisco with her pageant chaperon to pick a gown at a garment warehouse. The chosen dress, designed by Emma Domb, caught Sutton's eye, thanks to its color.

"It's unusual. A tarnished peach, a tarnished champagne. It's a very soft color," she said.

Sutton did not know until after the competition in Seaside, Ore., that she did not meet the pageant's age requirement of being 18 years by the Sept. 15 cutoff.

"They had wanted me to do it for the experience, it was good. I was a very young, 17, too." Her 18th birthday wasn't until the last week of October.

"Just two times I wore it," she said. Sutton wore the dress the following year to crown the new Miss Redmond in 1951. "It had a lot of memories in it, from having it and wearing it."

She did try the pageant dress on and off over the years, including putting it on one last time a few months ago.

"The zipper was broke, but it still fit."

Sutton and her husband moved to Camas about two years ago to be closer to their family. Her three daughters and her daughter-in-law, also fans of vintage dresses, accompanied her to Couve Couture to see Tetreault's design.

Shelby Meader of Camas modeled the pageant dress for the show. Tetreault said Meader, who competed in this year's Miss Washington USA pageant, was the only model who fit the dimensions of the dress.

When Sutton saw her dress transformed for the runway, "It was a little emotional for me, when I saw it in a distance coming," Sutton said. "I liked the fact that Alisa shortened it a bit."

"I got to see all the models walk by; they were all very interesting. The clothes weren't anything I would wear," Sutton said, stressing the importance of dressing your age, but the fashion show made her smile. "It was intriguing and I liked it. It was fun."


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.