Tag Archives: timeline

Day 124: gone shopping ~ vintage style

4 May

Today I went shopping in a friend’s closet.
It’s okay. Hand-me-downs are totally within the rules of The Promise 365.

I was invited to come over and look at items that were destined for Goodwill.  Before they got the boot, I got a chance to get in on the loot!

I had almost forgot about the thrill achieved by just trying on new clothes, pulling something foreign over my body and starring at it until it speaks to me.

Are you mine cute black and white sundress?  Nope, doesn’t fit.
Do you belong with me white cropped pants?  I’m yours baby!

The new clothes will take a few washings and wearings until they truly transform into “mine”,  completely belonging to me, feeling like me and representing me.

Do you know that process?
At some point in the owner’s cycle a new pair of jeans becomes “favorite jeans” or “Saturday afternoon jeans” or “dress up to go out jeans”.  They take on a role of their own, in the form of wardrobe but also in the form of life moments.

Flash forward to my afternoon:
A bit later in the day, I read this article: Even Chloe Sevigny Saves Money With Vintage Clothing.

It made me think about more than just the “value” of vintage finds.
As I scrolled through the decades of this very cool fashion timeline and read about how the hems and hoops and design elements of the day changed I thought of my own timeline.

I just donated my wedding dress to Goodwill. Even though the marriage became unstitched one painful thread at a time, I will remember the raw silk fabric and a-line cut of that white strapless number.

I also remember the exact dress, cut and flare, that I wore to my college graduation. Black with little white flowers.

I can almost feel the sturdy baby blue fabric of the first grown up suit with the long sweeping lapels I wore to my Truman Scholar finalist interview. The one where they didn’t pick me, the one where I entered with a heap of hope and ended with a serving of humility and a little loss.

I remember the navy blue sweats pants I wore to basketball games in high school with my last name pressed in letters up one of the legs ~ E S L I N G E R ~ It was my first true power suit.  Game day.  Suit up.

I also remember the teal cotton stretchy pants I wore home from the hospital after having my spleen removed, my cancer diagnosed, and my mortality amplified.

First day on my very first job:  long black linen summer suit
First date with Justin:  white t-shirt with sheer sleeves
Fourth grade birthday party: fluffy pink dress with ribbon at the waist

Each event from my life comes with a memory and an outfit. 
Just proof that vintage had a life of its own, once.
If not twice.

BONUS!
A fun overview of Americam fashion trends. Here’s a sampling below and you can see photos and even more info at the Vintage Fashion Guild website.

1910 to 1920
Suits were fashionable for daywear and walking was eased
due to a really big fashion happening – the skirt hem rose to the ankle!
1920 to 1930
As the “flapper era” became established, hemlines continued
their scandalous ascent and had reached the knee by 1926.
1930 to 1940
Women clamored to look like their screen idols. Exemplified
by the white satin bias cut dresses as worn by Jean Harlow,
the Hollywood look featured dramatic lines that played best to camera.
1950 to 1960
The US War Production Board sponsored a measurements
survey of 100,000 women, using the data to standardize
sizing for the garment industry.
1960 to 1970
Even the most conservative suits were cut above the knee.
The old etiquette (remember gloves and hats?) was out
the door. Balenciaga even gave up his house in 1967 proclaiming,
“Fashion is dead”.
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