In the October issue of Elle, I read about a new play by Nora Ephron called Love, Loss, and What I Wore based on the slim memoir of the same name written by author Ilene Beckerman. The play opened up on Broadway October 1 and is based off of the interesting concept telling the story of a woman's life, through her clothes. As written in Elle, "clothes help us define define who we are in the world - they are touchstones for personal relationships, tools of seduction, and conduits to our former selves." As Ephron puts it "the book was an odd, magical autobiography. Beckerman had managed to provide a universal way of looking at our lives, dreams, mistakes and heartbreaks - all through the filter of what we'd been wearing at the time."
To paraphrase the article, looking at garments and accessories bought years ago, we often think -- how did that get there??? What was I thinking? Or who did I think I was when I accumulated this? What we choose to put in our wardrobes is a constant act of self-definition. In our decisions, we face one of life's most fundamental questions: Is this me? Do I want this to be me? ... Who am I? For the author, what makes Love, Loss so powerful, is that our clothes are loaded with memories - of our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, fathers, boyfriends, husbands, bosses and even children.. to name a few of the people we have been dressed by and dressed for in our lives.
I read a quote by Diane Von Furstenberg, who in referring to her closet, said she loves to open her closet doors and say hello to her old friends. Clothes are something that even the most non-fashion devoted woman responds to. While I am the opposite of a pack-rat, there are certainly some things that I hold onto for simply the sentimental value of it. Examples of such include a red and black feather boa once belonging to my grandmother, huge on me patchwork seersucker pants that belonged to an old love with the initials RJM, my favorite Calypso floor length summer dress that I have literally worn to pieces, not to mention tons of t-shirts that I just can't seem to part with.
There are clothes that I could never imagine wearing now - especially from the years when I wore lots of vintage from the lower east side...
Out of the favorites I still love, there are the preppy men's swimming trunks that I practically wore as a uniform all throughout my high school summers, and a dress that reminds me of something Edie Sedgwick would embrace. I have donned this silver, skin-hugging number almost too many times.
My outfits reflect not only my personal evolving style, but also recall the motivations behind wearing the garment. What was I expecting of the occasion that called me to dress in a certain way? Who was I dressing to impress? And most importantly, how did I feel the outfit was suited to my body and style?
As I mentioned before, my bedroom closet in Princeton is grossly small and I can't wait for an upgrade (it is an apartment requirement!) when I move to NYC next fall, so I can gather and stash to my heart's desire, and hopefully see my favorite things live again -- either on me or someone else who adopts of piece of mine with the idea that it could be them as well.