Foulard: the French word for scarf! During my recent trip to Paris and the South of France, I couldn’t help but admire the foulards around the necks of many elegant French women. Their outfits are never complete without them, no matter the time of year or fashion tendency. French women will always make it work. There are day-time styles – light and airy, and night-time styles – more luxurious and silky.
When I reached my destination on the Mediterranean, I found out that the South France had been key in the manufacturing of silk fabrics during the Middle Ages. The first silk factories opened their doors in the region during the 15th Century and became an engine for the local economy of the time. On my long walks around a few Medieval towns which still maintain their old-world charm, I felt the importance of this icon and its place in fashion. It was nearly impossible not to be seduced by its shine and luminosity. I walked into a tiny store filled with silk scarves in all colors imaginable and waited until one of them called my attention. Its soft pink shades were shining and inviting. I tried on many, but I kept coming back to my first choice. The owner, a lovely woman in her fifties, looked at me and said: “I believe the right scarf found you.” It was clear what I had to do.
As with so many things in life, I see now that the love affair between my French scarf and me was pure destiny. Medieval roads lead me to it. Now I am home and I wear it with pride and let it take me back to beautiful memories of an extraordinary trip, full of discovery, charm, and glamour.
I remember walking down Fifth Avenue with my mom, a young teenager just starting to get a sense of my own style, and seeing for the first time The flagship Ralph Lauren Polo store. Elegant and sophisticated, it represented everything stylish and sleek in my young eyes – quite simply, it was the home of fashion. Now I understand this home is closing its doors on April 15. Struggling with declining sales, Ralph Lauren Corporation will close this flagship store on Fifth Avenue, revamp its e-commerce operations, and cut jobs.
I am sad knowing that it will be gone; it will take with it memories of myself at a younger age and times daydreaming with my mother about New York, and fashion, and style.
I have a history with the Fair Isle sweater: it involves a short-lived obsession my freshman year in college and my beautiful and devoted mother – you may remember that I shared it with you in a podcast with my mom on TFIO. At that time, I had at least four Fair Isle sweaters in my possession (thanks to my mom), only to lose them by the end of that freshman year. I have no recollection where they went but the memory of them has lingered, almost as if I was waiting, anticipating owning another one sometime in my life. Here it is, 30 years later – what?!– and I have finally found a Fair Isle sweater again! It is Italian-designer Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, and more sophisticated than my college sweaters – but a Fair Isle sweater just the same. I went back to school on this snowy day, to recapture that moment so many years ago and to finally give this fashion story a happy ending!
As a mother, I understand the frenzy associated with back to school; yes, it has to do with books and supplies and lunch boxes and forms to fill out – but mostly, it has to do with clothes. Getting new sneakers (I have boys), tops, pants, etc. But as a woman, I am never far away from the back to school feeling of shopping for new clothes and the tease of a new season on the horizon. What is it about this time of year that calls to mind fresh starts and new beginnings? Even though the weather on the East Coast is as warm now as a mid-August day and even though I soak in the warmth of the sun for as long as I can, there is something about the clothing of fall that inspires and motivates me to dress-it-up a notch. I trace it back to my school days and the start of a new year.
Although I have already helped my college student shop for his back to school attire, and I am now preparing my high school student for his second year, I am secretly shopping for myself. Or maybe I am shopping for the little girl who never forgot what it is like on her first day of school!
Loehmann’s, January 10, 2014 – liquidation has begun …
After 93 years in business and over 30 years as a personal favorite fashion destination, retailer Loehmann’s is closing its doors in all 39 locations nationwide. Liquidation sales began yesterday, January 9th. My love affair with Loehmann’s started when I was in high school, shopping with my mom. It was a significant part of my life with my mom, who has always been my favorite shopping buddy. We would enter the store in Florham Park, NJ, together, and quickly separate as we shopped our separate ways. Ah – my first taste of fashion freedom! Continue reading →
The second time I am a bride; the first time I was 5 years old
I believe that our clothes tell the story of our lives: that we can remember an event, a moment, a mood or a feeling, by the clothing we were wearing. I remember being five years old and wanting, more than anything, to be a bride for Halloween. I lived in an apartment building with many steps, and I was traumatized to discover that by the end of the evening my beautiful bride’s dress had been torn to shreds from trick-or-treating and continuously stepping on the hem. Years later, I remember being a bride in my grown-up wedding dress and how I felt like a princess for the day. I remember my brownie outfit and the sash that held my badges and how I wore it with pride, like a true soldier. I remember being in eighth grade, putting on a pair of bell-bottoms, wedge shoes and a Huckapoo shirt, and feeling confident and cool; the first time I really felt that way as a young teen (after months of feeling awkward and gangly). My clothes are my memories and I remember it all.
This holiday, I was moved when my friend gave me the charming book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, written and illustrated by Ilene Beckerman. It is the story of a woman’s life and memories, told through the clothes that she wore.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore – written and illustrated by Ilene Beckerman