For most of What I Saw and How I Lied, Evie Spooner just wants to be a grown-up woman already. She's always the kid in the group while her parents are hanging out with the Graysons, and she feels uninteresting and too young. When Arlene Grayson takes her shopping for a more adult wardrobe, the evening gown is the transformative piece—Evie has a transformative moment not unlike when Laney Boggs ditches her glasses and dons a red dress in the 1990s teen classic She's All That. Evie tells us:
I put on the high-heeled sandals, shoes I could never, ever imagine wearing to school or church. The dress fit like a dream, tiny waist and a sweep of silk down to my ankles—a blue so pale and shimmering it was almost white. (11.65)
The dress also allows Peter—and her parents—to see Evie's womanly appeal for the first time. While Joe is nearly apoplectic with rage when Evie comes down in the fancy gown, looking all grown up, it makes Peter look at her differently, and see her the way she's been yearning to be seen. She says:
I could see it in his face. Peter saw me, really saw me, and so did Mrs. Grayson and so did Mom and so did Joe.
"You look like a dream," Peter said. (18.11-12)
The gown is a surprise for everyone because it showcases Evie's transition from childhood to adulthood—something that no one quite saw coming, not even Evie. That her parents make her go upstairs and change, and her mom puts her in a plain old dress, represents their resistance—you might even say fear—to their daughter coming into her own. Little do they know just what a force to be reckoned with Evie's about to become.