My life as I wore it

I came from parents who worked in tailoring and dressmaking, both imposing their style sense on me in different ways. My mother, an excellent seamstress, leaned towards a contemporary styles except with me. My father, a dry cleaner and tailor, was conservative. Every time my mother gave him my skirts to clean, he would lengthen them 2 inches to cover my knees and then some. My mother made my wedding dress which was lovely but modest. In the heat of June, it was long sleeved and up to my neck without a hint of scandalous flesh showing.

My first career was in the garment center of New York. Nothing glamorous, just administrative but at a high profile bathing suit company. Dressing for success was important but on a secretary’s salary, that didn’t amount to much especially when you are surrounded by fashionistas. No dress down Fridays or casual Thursdays in those days. But now that I am a retired, I have a wardrobe of what I use to wear and am in jeans almost every day. I do look for a reason to get dressed up.

I admit, I love clothes, follow trends, and like to shop. I don’t always get it right but there are moments of my life relegated to memory based on what I wore and still have.

The oldest garment I have (other than my baby shoes) is the sweater I wore to Woodstock. A blue ski-style sweater that my mother shoved into my suitcase against my wishes. “Why would I need a sweater in August in upstate New York”. As we all know, the weather was terrible that weekend, cold and rainy, and that sweater was my salvation.

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On the first date I had with my future husband I wore a purple silk blouse which I have to admit was a good color on me. I liked this guy so my follow up dates involved a serious plan of garments  – a knit burgundy dress with a cowl collar when we went to dinner, cargo pants and a silk shirt when we went to a dance club and a red plaid skirt when I wanted to look like the marrying type.

I hated most maternity clothes and it bothered me to spend any money on a garment with a short lifespan and a ridiculous big bow.  Around 1990, pregnant with my youngest I bought a dress in Urban Outfitter in the city that I envisioned as the perfect maternity dress that can be worn after giving birth. My husband calling it my “pumpkin dress” and hated it. A black empire waisted jumper with a full bodice with orange pumpkins all over.  Good grief! Yes, I still have it and is now kept in a Halloween costume box (no surprise).

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Although there are many more memories within the clothes I wore, I have to conclude with a suit I made. I had started to sew and took on projects that included clothes for my children and for myself. At one point, I was looking for a job and decided to make the definitive interviewing outfit. This navy blue suit was the best thing I ever made. I spent good money on good fabric and lots of time on it.  It was made of a silk and had buttons covered with the same fabric.  The jacket and skirt were lined. I considered it a work of art and, although I have no where to wear it, I still keep it.

Surprisingly, many styles I see are the same as years ago but my clothing life has metamorphosed into lots of denim and shopping at H&M. Just before I stopped working, I learned how to dress down on Fridays and wear jeans more often. Its nice to be casual but once in a while, I’ll make my husband take me somewhere where I will wear a more dressy look. I still love the dress and do miss it.

 

 

 

Reflections

Within the last 16 years, a lot has happened yet, it surprises me how I did not notice the evolution. Within that time frame, I transformed from a corporate employee, mother of three and suburban homeowner to a retiree, babysitter and who I was before the madness started.  I was forced to retire when my company moved to Atlanta and I did not. I wasn’t one of those who couldn’t wait to be a grandmother. But when my career evolved to that of a babysitter, I found the time and enjoyment I didn’t have when I was raising my own kids.  The madness stopped when I retired, moved to a town full of farms and good people and I had the time to enjoy what is out my window. My children are now who I love from afar.

During these last 16 years,I have seen all three kids move on to higher ground. Finishing college, getting jobs, managing expenses. My older son is a father. My younger son and daughter are on  good career path. And this week, I saw my daughter handle an escape from the hurricane. My kids are all adults and I sometimes have to remember that.

At the same time, I have evolved into who I always was but did not have time to express. I lost my brother last year and with it, the remains of my life as a child. No kids, no siblings. Just me and my husband. We fill our days with travel, outdoor activities and friends just like us. Not a bad life but it was a long road and with its challenges.

In 16 years, I have become fearful and cautious and at times, a hypochrondiac. I have morned the loss of friends who lost their life over some medical condition that they did nothing to deserve. It make me wonder if I too have something undetected. Did that mosquito bite exposed me to malaria?

I am aware of and have been targeted by scam artists and dishonest people who make a career out of cheating people out of their earnings. I get emails almost weekly by the likes of someone who wants to give me 8 million dollars and all I have to do is give him my bank account number.

Yes, my world has evolved in 16 years. Personally it has gotten better but out there, it is much more of a insecure place. I can never forget how I felt that day on September 11, 2001 as I left the World Financial Center watching Tower 1 come down not knowing what I was seeing.  Did I really see what I thought I saw.

So as I live in my wonderful town I pick up eggs from a bin and leave the money in a lock box on the table. Every weekend in the fall, the roads are clogged with families driving here to pick pumpkins and apples and see the leaves turn. We don’t talk about the Koreans or ISIS. We are aware but move on. Our town is not on the radar of evil.

Sixteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, I went to work at the World Financial Center and saw the buildings come down. I am glad to be safe but will never feel completely safe again.