Stories of clothes

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LOVED is the theme this week for Slow Fashion October:

as in your proudest accomplishment / most loved item / most frequently worn item / thing you saved up for / investment pieces / thing you worked a long time on / oldest thing that’s still in rotation.
– Karen Templer, Fringe Association

Many of my clothes hold stories, moments in time. The dress, above, I wore the day I met my husband, 15 years ago.  I picked it up at a thrift store because at the time I was a fresh theatre college graduate and didn’t have much disposable income. It was a fun dress to wear to a party; a dress in which salsa dancing could happen. It made an appearance at my sister’s 8th grade graduation and a host of other events until it was worn out. But it has stayed in the closet along side my treasured wedding dress.

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Many of my clothes also serve as a bookmark, holding the places I’ve traveled around the world. This top, purchased in India when I attended the wedding of a dear friend, brings to the surface a trip of a lifetime, taking me back to the intertwined chaos and beauty of that country. It was worn a lot upon returning home but it hasn’t been it in rotation for a while. It’s not an easy top for a nursing mom.

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I’m drawn to bright colors, although there is a lot of black on the hangers and in the drawers. Light, cotton pieces with embroidery often find their way into my closet.  Someday, I intend to make some of my own, inspired by the beautiful embroidery I saw while in Central and South America.

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The daily uniform: a pair of jeans and my fleece. This tells the story of where I am right now: wearing clothes that hold up and can be thrown on day after day but don’t have a ton of style. These jeans are also one of what I consider to be investment pieces in my wardrobe although they were a gift. They were my first pair of quality jeans and will always bring me back to the time around my wedding and the generosity of others. Buying investment pieces of clothing is not a habit; it’s something hard to justify. It’s a fear, almost, to have those items in my closet.  Perhaps I’ll just look at them on the hanger instead of wearing them, too timid to touch, saving them for special occasions and then not liking them. It’s ironic though, because I imagine less money would be spent and there would be a deeper love of fewer, high-quality clothes.

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And here is my proudest accomplishment, my first knitted sweater, Annabel Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. It took 6 months to knit, with many mistakes that I ripped out only to begin again. The buttons came from a sweet yarn shop on a trip this past summer, imbuing it with more story and life. It was a huge, rewarding, learning process; a different kind of investment piece. One of time, money and love that I created; one that I won’t be afraid to use. Isn’t that funny?  I probably wouldn’t wear an expensive knit sweater everyday if I purchased in a store but have no problem when made by my own two hands. The intention is to make clothes to wear, not to have them sit. And although it may turn out to be a monument of learning that I don’t wear, right now it’s pure love and I can’t wait for it to be cold enough to wear most days. It may push the fleece hoodie to the side for a while.

Going through the clothes in the closet revealed that there are many pieces that are indeed, loved, but still not in rotation. They still hang in my closet because I love looking at them, feeling them in my hands and letting my mind wander. I struggle with this: do I hold onto a closet full of clothes that I cherish because of the memories but don’t in fact wear anymore? The simple answer is: probably not.  It’s something to work through and find balance between those memories, actually wearing some of the clothes again and letting go.

There is a sense that my uniform is changing; what’s in my closet is beginning to shift.  Clothes tell the story of where you’ve been, where you’re at and perhaps where you’re headed.

One thought on “Stories of clothes

  1. I never really thought about my clothes in this way, and yet I’ve always been a lover of textiles. The simpler the better, such as your beautiful hand knit sweater. It makes me want to slow down and contemplate the simple things in life, like what I choose to wear, what it says about where I am in life and how it makes me feel.

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