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The dress belongs to us, gentlemen

Sorry guys, but the dress is ours.

In a world where gender stereotypes are disappearing, the dress remains under feminine domain. From sundresses to Sunday dresses to little black dresses to the mother of all dresses -- the wedding dress -- gowns in all shapes, sizes and colors belong to us.

If anyone was questioning this (and I'm pretty sure no one was), the Miss Tootsie pageant last Friday night proved it. Five Wadena men donned frocks hilariously ill-suited to their frames. It isn't likely that anyone who attended the event will soon erase from their minds images of big feet and hairy backs emerging from thrift store formal gowns.

Men in other cultures may wear long garments resembling dresses, but the spaghetti-strap, sweetheart neckline and tea-length varieties are friendly only to females.

Dresses aren't the staple of a typical woman's wardrobe like they once were, but they still remain a favorite piece of attire, particularly for special occasions. Weddings are, of course, the big day for the dress to shine. I'm in the midst of planning a June wedding so thoughts of taffeta and organza are consuming my mind.

I finalized the big decision Wednesday and ordered a strapless, mermaid-style wedding dress with a ruched bodice and layers of organza. I went shopping for a simpler gown, possibly even one of the shorter dresses I saw on Internet wedding dress sites. That semi-ascetic goal didn't last long, though. The lure of the train and bustle overtook me once I stepped on the stool in front of the mirror at the bridal shop.

Everyday work wear is streamlined and masculinized. Your wedding day is a time to indulge in something entirely feminine and fun, so why not take advantage of it. That's what I decided anyway.

It's a rare woman who denies herself at least some feminine frills on the way to the altar.

The dress can have a magical hold. I have no idea where it comes from, but it starts pretty young for some of us. My mother said as an 18-month-old I would demand to wear a "pitty dess" every morning because I wanted to look nice.

I had all kinds of favorite dresses growing up. I remember a plaid dress with a dropped waist that was hard to grow out of and a white navy dress with blue trimming that was a hand-me-down from my cousin. I readily identified with an episode of "The Cosby Show" where Rudy mourns being forbidden to wear a green summer dress to a friend's party because it's too cold. As a child, you never knew if you would be able to wear the dress the next summer or if you would have outgrown it by then.

As girls grow up, confirmation, prom and graduations are all opportunities to twirl in a skirt in front of the mirror. It's a joy men will never know nor should they. We are glad, though, when they don gowns for our amusement. A man in a dress is just plain funny.

For us, the dress is serious business. It's ours, and we're not letting it go.