Anne Shirley's best dress and how we picture it

the book:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery

published 1908    chapter 25

[Matthew and Marilla are guardians to the orphan Anne Shirley: Green Gables is where they all live.]

The more Matthew thought about the matter the more he was convinced that Anne never had been dressed like the other girls--never since she had come to Green Gables. Marilla kept her clothed in plain, dark dresses, all made after the same unvarying pattern. If Matthew knew there was such a thing as fashion in dress it was as much as he did; but he was quite sure that Anne's sleeves did not look at all like the sleeves the other girls wore. He recalled the cluster of little girls he had seen around her that evening--all gay in waists of red and blue and pink and white--and he wondered why Marilla always kept her so plainly and soberly gowned.

Of course, it must be all right. Marilla knew best and Marilla was bringing her up. Probably some wise, inscrutable motive was to be served thereby. But surely it would do no harm to let the child have one pretty dress... Matthew decided that he would give her one; that surely could not be objected to as an unwarranted putting in of his oar. Christmas was only a fortnight off. A nice new dress would be the very thing for a present. Matthew, with a sigh of satisfaction, put away his pipe and went to bed…

[A neighbour, Mrs Lynde, agrees to make the dress.]

"Well now, I'm much obliged," said Matthew, "and--and--I dunno--but I'd like--I think they make the sleeves different nowadays to what they used to be. If it wouldn't be asking too much I--I'd like them made in the new way."

"Puffs? Of course. You needn't worry a speck more about it, Matthew. I'll make it up in the very latest fashion," said Mrs. Lynde…"


It would take a heart of stone not to be charmed by quiet Matthew’s project to get a new and fancy dress for Anne Shirley, surely our favourite orphan in the whole of children’s literature. Her relationship with brother and sister Matthew and Marilla is wonderfully portrayed, and Matthew is a hero for the ages. There is a very funny scene in this chapter where he tries to buy the dress himself, but is far too bashful to tell the young lady assistant what he wants, and ends up buying all kinds of things he doesn’t need at all.

This would have been a 10 year old’s idea of Anne’s perfect dress: see tomorrow’s entry for another view….

The picture is from the
Powerhouse Museum’s collection, and is featured on Flickr.

With thanks to Riona for the suggestion.