Anne Shirley, better known as ‘Anne of Green Gables’ is skinny, red haired and never stops talking. Growing up an orphan in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, she spent her childhood living in different strangers homes until she found herself on Prince Edward Island living at Avonlea Farmhouse with siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.
Anne’s decidedly deep red hair is her most prominent feature and it is the first thing the reader notices about her. However, throughout the whole book, the “very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish white wincey” is the outfit she is most remembered by. Worn with a faded brown sailor hat and an old carpet bag, the dress was a symbol of Anne’s harsh upbringing and the neglect she had encountered throughout her life. The dress is known as Anne’s station dress, a name given to the garment as it is first seen when Matthew collects Anne from the station, ready to bring her back to Green Gables.
The dress is reflected upon many times during the course of the novel, giving it an iconic status. Many film adaptations of the book also pay homage to the garment, using it to show Anne’s adventurous, strong-minded personality.
Recently, Kate Middleton has revived the dress on a recent visit to Prince Edward Island. On Prince William and Kate’s Royal Tour, they stopped off at Prince Edward Island to celebrate Kate’s love for the novel with Kate dressed in a replica of the dress, designed by Sarah Burton, thus further elevating the iconic status of the dress.
Although originally published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has a strong influence over fashion today. Anne Shirley’s ‘decidedly’ red hair is a symbol of her free spirited attitude to life, however, behind the seams of her station dress lies deeper symbolism which draws people to admire it centuries later.