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.
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).
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.