There is a reality to my life: every moment, every day, every event – comes down to one question … what shall I wear? I dress for work – what shall I wear? I am invited to a party – what shall I wear? I take a college tour with my younger son – what shall I wear? I move my older son to college – what shall I wear? Small moments – big moments – all moments of my life – I am thinking about what to wear. It’s never been about shopping for the clothes. It’s about self expression and telling the story of my life and who I am in the world. Clothes are the way I do it. And eventually, these very choices will become my memories.
It started with a message that my dear friend and next door neighbor, Jean, had passed away. A week later I was forced to put my darling cat Willie to sleep after he stopped responding to his medications. And last week I got the devastating news that Cheryl, my beloved sister-in-law, had unexpectedly lost her mother, Charmaine. It has been a painful time for me and for my family and I am having a hard time processing these losses. What I have been doing is gathering memories of them close to me like precious treasures.
My friend Jean was very stylish and we would often share stories about clothes and fashion trends from her days working in New York City. She had a subscription to Harper’s Bazaar and kept the back issues in her front hallway so that I could see them clearly when I entered her house. Not only did Jean save the magazines, but she saved her clothes and cared for them lovingly. Not long before Jean died she gave me her over-the-top black hat from Ann Taylor (that I think she wore to an outdoor garden party). It is very different from anything I wear but I love owning a bit of Jean and find myself thinking about wearing it someday to my own elegant party. In that moment I will think of Jean and smile – as I do with everyone so dear to me whom I have lost recently – in loving memory …
This is what I was wearing two nights ago, at 10:15, when my son Eric started screaming: my purple polka-dot pajamas. I remember the moment perfectly: my younger son, Cam, had just gone to bed, as had Eric. It had been a long day in a series of long days, watching Eric pace and panic (as every high school senior does) as he waited to hear from all of his colleges. After hearing him scream, I ran to Eric and then I saw it: the biggest smile I had seen in months. He had news that he had been accepted to his favorite school, marking the last of the schools on his list. He was thrilled. We hugged and cried. It was over. Now we knew.
I will remember this evening and never forget what I was wearing. Ever since reading Ilene Beckerman’s book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which I feature on the blog here, I am reminded of every important moment in my life in terms of the clothes I wore. Think about it: go back to the moments of your life, the good, the bad and the ugly, and you will probably remember what you were wearing. In my life, I don’t always remember the events, but I always remember the clothes. That won’t be the case with my purple polka-dot pajamas. Funny, too, that I am wearing Pantone’s 2014 IT color: Radiant Orchid. Who knew???