Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Clothing Memories

 Choices: What do you remember from closets past?

Closet Content Analysis: The clothing we remember

Elegance is not standing out, it's being remembered.
- Georgio Armani

I can not remember what I wore yesterday and so I can safely deduce that I cannot describe in detail the day-to-day clothing others or I have worn. 

For the most part, I remember clothing that was associated with significant events. Emotional connections to clothing were immortalized in the 2008 play, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron, which they based on the 1995 book of the same name written by Ilene Beckerman.  And so it is that I do not recall what I wore when I went out for dinner with my neighbours last week in France but I can tell you what I wore to my convocation, my godson Mark's wedding, and to my brother's funeral in Canada.  

My mother who obviously influenced what I wear is also in my clothing memories. I can describe what she wore when my younger brother was baptized (I was six), what she wore as mother of the bride and I remember what my mother wore as she lay in her coffin. The first was a light blue brocade sheath dress in a classic Jacqueline Kennedy style and the latter was a blue-grey silk suit of mine that she always admired. When she died I thought it appropriate. 

Plaid dress, 1947.
When I asked my mother-in-law, whose own mother sewed all her clothes when she was growing up, if she remembered her first store-bought dress. She shared that it was a dress that she bought for the day-before-the-wedding festivities when she was getting married. It was a plaid red, black and green dress with black trim around the collar and sleeves that she wore in August, 1947.

Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
- Kevin Arnold

If our own clothing memories are associated with significant life events, it seems that memories of other people's clothing may be more generalized. One of those generalized memories is as much of the woman as was her clothing. She was a colleague, whom I admired not only for the way she dressed but also for her professional demeanor and expertise. She has recently been one of the recipients of the 2012 Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in Canada. She was well-dressed, elegant and professional. Her suits, her shoes, the way she put them together, were impeccable and I imagine still are; although it must be twenty years or more since I last saw her.

It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
- Barbara Kingsolver
What elements come forth in your clothing memories?

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