This past Tuesday, May 18th, Jenn White’s NPR program, 1A, atypically focused upon apolitical content. An associate of hers will fill in a few more details:
“After a year of referring to jeans as ‘hard pants,’ it’s safe to say that living through a pandemic has changed our relationships with our wardrobes. But just because our more festive garb has gone unloved for 14 months doesn’t mean our clothes don’t matter — to ourselves and to the rest of our world. This idea — we are what we wear — is the inspiration behind Emily Spivack’s “Worn Stories.” It’s an archival project, turned book, turned Netflix miniseries that offers vignettes into people’s lives by way of their clothing.” [Read More Here]
Initially, this Doubting Thomas chuckled while wondering, do we really have ‘relationships with our wardrobes’, i.e., beyond the squeaky clean, mechanical, wear-wash-rinse-spin-dry cycles?
Well, no sooner had my laughter and cynicism waned than my own “Worn Stories” began to play out; a few, perhaps, even worthy of author Spivack’s consideration? I dunno. One thing for sure, I had no farther to look for proof than mere inches above my eyes; namely…
The baseball cap my sister had given to me back in 2004; shortly after she picked me up at LAX. That event signified the onset of my 3 week fun vacay with 3 goals;  attend a family reunion of two,  celebrate a milestone birthday and  allay my yearlong grief (I’ll elaborate by blog’s end). Months in advance, my sibling / tour guide had planned our sightseeing destinations; i.e., the greater Los Angeles area’s “hidden in plane sight” natural and historical wonders, most of which other tourists rarely, if ever, get to see. By the time I had to fly back to Michigan, well, I didn’t wanna go. Not when my Golden State vacay had proven the gold standard of adventure.
There are three more “Worn Stories”, to relate, too.
My brown plaid wool jacket still reminds me of the waning days of the summer of ’72; when both my public school teacher father and I had journeyed to the neighboring “big city” ISO back to school fall apparel; our actual try-on sessions becoming secondary once we got a better sense of this shared quality time and how September would be heralding my transition from high school senior to college freshman. And, it was two decades after that, when my seamstress mother’s repairs / restorations had extended its wearability; to such an extent, this outerwear still serves me well nearly half a century later; especially as my go to, late fall / early spring garb.
My bright blue Gap® Pocket-T still looks nearly retail selling floor new, mainly, because I wound up only wearing it when posing for my annual birthday photos (throughout the Nineties and early Aughts); all snapped by my shutterbug mother, who knew how, typically, blue hues help folks look their best. In her younger days, she had spent so much time in the dark room that, career wise, she could’ve traveled a far more intriguing, artistic path.
My short sleeve polo, too, is still in its prime, mainly due to its early retirement following a 22 hour long vigil. It’d been just prior to speeding off to my mom’s nursing home bedside, when I had paused, momentarily, to choose this top’s color. It’d been down to black v. green; my opting for the latter in hopes I might, somehow, cheer mom up; maybe enough, so, in defiance of her physician’s grim prognostication, she’d manage to rally one more time? Alas, that was not to be. In the end, my mother had escaped Earth to enter Eternity. To this very day, it’s my belief that what had finally “won her over” to The Other Side had been her getting a glimpse of the behind Heaven’s Gates reunion, all in her honor: all courtesy of her loving family and friends who’d gone before her.
And so, I ask once more…
Do we really have ‘relationships with our wardrobes’, i.e., beyond the squeaky clean, mechanical, wear-wash-rinse-spin-dry cycles?
In a heartbeat, thanks to author Emily Spivack, I can now answer that with an unequivocal, vocal YES!
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