• Sun, Sep 1 2013

You Will Never Believe How Many Dresses This Adorable Old Man Bought His Wife

55000 dresses

Margot and some of the many, many dresses Paul bought for her.

Paul Brockman is the cutest old husband in the world. He’s been married to his wife, Margot, for 56 years, and over that time he’s bought her 55,000 dresses. He just really likes shopping for her and loves the idea of her swishing around in glamorous ball gowns.

The thing is, he’s also been keeping much of it secret over the years, because Margot is a practical and level-headed woman who likes dressing up, but chided him for his excessive dress-buying when it was just a dress or two a week. Once he filled up the garage, he started filling up shipping containers and eventually a whole warehouse, always figuring she’d wear them someday.

The Brockmans moved from Germany to Ohio in 1955, and they took up ballroom dancing once a week. Paul liked Margot to be able to have a new dress every time they went dancing, but she has always hated shopping, so he bought them for her before and after work. Sometimes he’d bring home several at a time and she would tell him he was crazy. Margot told him to stop buying dresses, but he just started hiding them in the garage, and eventually in shipping containers and then a warehouse. There are still thousands Margot has never even seen.

“If there was a dress that I liked, I could visualize what she would look like in it. And I had to have it,” he says. “Even if it was the wrong size.”

That’s so romantic I’m totally going to cry.

Brockman is a particular sucker for Dior’s New Look silhouettes, with its huge, swishy skirts.

“When I see a gal with a dress like that, I wanted to get her out on the dance floor,” he said.

The extent of the dress collection was discovered recently when his adult daughter went into the garage and found it full to the ceiling with bags of dresses on a two-tiered system of hanging rods he’d built for them.

“What the hell is all of this!?” she said.

When she asked what he intended to do with his tens of thousands of dresses, he said he intended to leave them to her. She told him to think again.

At first I was afraid this was a particularly sweet variety of hoarding, but Brockman kept all the dresses neatly bagged and hanging in his warehouse, and most of them are in pristine, unworn condition.

Since their daughter found out about the warehouse, the Brockmans have been slowly selling the collection off to vintage stores, private collectors, and stores like Urban Outfitters and ModCloth, which use the vintage pieces to create patterns for new dresses.

Paul says it has been two months since he last bought Margot a dress. That’s the longest he’s ever gone in 60 years.

They also have some of the dresses pictured online and monthly sales at the warehouse in LA. If you go, send us pictures.

Via The Frisky/Photo: 55thousanddresses

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  • Sarah

    I really don’t get it? Why buy her dresses if she didnt want them and didnt even see THOUSANDS of them?
    I’m not offended, just confused. I don’t get the romantic side or the actions.

    • anna

      Yeah, this reminds me of an ex who used to buy me marc jacob’s daisy perfume because HE liked it. I wear rose oil every day. I hate daisy, but he kept buying it.

  • S

    Isn’t making big financial decisions without the spouse’s approval considered… you know… disrespectful? Not that buying one or two or even a few dresses would count as a “big financial decision,” but once you’re in the thousands, plus the cost of renting that warehouse – that’s a huge financial sinkhole that he created without ever consulting his wife.

    I’m sure the money could have been used for things the wife would actually use and appreciate – maybe a new house/apartment? Maybe a regular cleaning service so she wouldn’t have to keep cleaning as she got older? I’m sure his heart is in the right place, but I find this very creepy and disrespectful; he didn’t take her wishes (financial or sartorial) into account at all. It just smacks of a very old-fashioned outlook on marriage to me, where the husband makes all of the decisions, financial and otherwise, and the wife doesn’t get any say.

    Plus, I don’t care how neatly they’re stored, it still seems like hoarding. Especially if he bought dresses in the *wrong size*! That, combined with the fact that he hid them, is a pretty clear indication to me that he bought the dresses more for himself than for his wife. Sounds like compulsive hoarding behavior to me.

    (Wow, sorry for the huge amount of text. Guess I was more worked up than I thought!)

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      You raise a good point. The cost of the dresses plus storage has been estimated at $1.5 million, and that’s a ridiculous amount of money that was spent, for the most part, without consulting her. The family is relatively well-off and the money was dribbled out slowly over six decades and none of the dresses was expensive (the most expensive one in the collection was a $300 80s evening gown) so the expense went unnoticed until the daughter found the dresses and added it all up. ($1.5 million is just $27 per dress, and now I’m adding up all my purchases and starting to feel a little weird about how much I spend on Diet Coke in a year. Two cans a day is about $700!) But that is still a whole lot of money that they probably wish they had right now instead of dresses.

      The wrong size thing doesn’t bother me so much. His wife sews and I think he does too, and he seemed to take an optimistic “It can be altered!” or “I’ll buy this now and maybe she’ll grow into it” approach to the dresses. He did seem to think she’d probably wear them when he bought them.

      I can’t help but find it ridiculously touching that this little old man is still so wildly, romantically in love with his wife after 60 years together. It isn’t like they settled into being just roommates or like they’re staying together out of inertia. It warms the cockles of my heart to think that people can still be that enamored of each other after so many decades.

      But yeah, as cute as he is from across the Internet, if I told my husband to stop buying dresses, I would expect him to stop or at least cut it down significantly to a mutually agreed upon level. And it is a weird, weird thing to do. It seems like he got an earful from his wife and daughter when the extent of his collection was discovered, but she seems to have taken a position of, “What did you do, you crazy old man!?”

      He’s been posting photos of the warehouse sales on their facebook page, and he seems at least to be taking a fair amount of pleasure in seeing how happy people are with the dresses they buy. One vintage shop bought $20k worth of dresses, and it looks like they might be setting up an eBay shop.

  • readinyoarticles

    If I was the daughter, I’d be so mad if I found out there were thousands of vintage dresses at my disposal that I knew nothing about

  • Cee

    I like the 1980′s floral dress…and it is just my size! I should wear it and walk around like a Stepford Wife.

  • BP

    Some of the dresses should be donated to high schools for female students that cannot afford dresses for prom. It is a truly amazing and generous gift that can make a difference for at least one day for young females.

  • Guest

    While many news outlets are marketing this story as sweet, I personally find it questionable. Sure, it was all done with good intentions, but am I the only person who thinks it’s wrong for a husband to make such major financial sacrifices without his wife’s approval? I can’t help but think that these purchases may have more to do with hoarding than love.

  • Madison Taylor

    While many news outlets are marketing this story as sweet, I personally find it questionable. Sure, it was all done with good intentions, but am I the only person who thinks it’s wrong for a husband to make such major financial sacrifices without his wife’s approval? I can’t help but think that these purchases may have more to do with hoarding than love.

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