I love a good theme, it helps me write. I like delving into a topic and exploring my thoughts about it. I've really been enjoying the prompts put out as part of Slow Fashion October. The theme of this week is Loved. I had actually thought about sharing some of these garments a few months ago and had done some writing but never got around to publishing. I'm happy to have the perfect reason to do so!
Today I'm sharing some of my favorite 'well loved' garments, some of which I've had for quite a long time. Some of these are things I've made myself, some I've picked up in my travels. I don't necessarily wear all of them, and some I don't even own anymore (just have pictures) but I think they all tell nice stories.
Brown Denim Skirt
This skirt was one of the more ambitious things I made early on in my sewing life, I believe during my first year of college. I can't recall where the fabric came from and I know I did not use a pattern. I looked at a RTW denim skirt that I loved and mentally deconstructed it. To this day, I'm rather impressed that I was able to grasp the concept of a fly zip and slash pockets. The button came from a collection gifted to me by a family friend who lived in Arizona. The back slit shows numerous repairs. This short skirt was worn at the most bicycling period of my life and had a tendency to rip at the seam.
The gusset, if you can call it that, was added at a later repair stage. This is a skirt I'd often thought about remaking. I did end up creating a very similar denim skirt using the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans pattern and wrote a tutorial about how to do it here!
This pair of cowboy boots belonged to my mom. She gave them to me in high school. At that point in time, these were basically the most incredibly pair of shoes I had ever owned. Simple, not elaborate like most cowboy boots you see. They fit perfectly with my quirky, transitioning out of punk rock art school persona. When I moved to Boston for college, these were the only shoes I came with. When it started to get cold, snow and rain would leak through the growing holes in the bottom of the boots. I would cut out layers of cardboard and use them as insoles to keep my feet warm and dry. Eventually, my lovely aunt bought me a new pair of boots for winter and these were retired. I no longer own them, as they were too damaged to repair. I think they are one of the most punk rock items I have ever worn. Of course, the shirt following ranks pretty high too.
Fire Island Shirt
This t shirt was bought brand new from a family friend's store on Fire Island, NY. I believe I was 10. I wore it periodically in typical tshirt fashion and for some reason, it stayed in my drawer. I was not much of a logo tshirt wearer beyond the age of 12 (opting for more 'alternative' style) and at that point the shirt was relegated to the 'sleepwear' department. If you've ever wanted a 'distressed' shirt, or drooled over a parent or ex partner's beloved and bedraggled rock tee, I'll share the secret to fast-tracking a vintage look: Sleep in the shirt as much as possible. I've watched the crispiest of tees with the thickest of screen printing be reduced to gossamer threads this way. My Fire Island shirt is no exception.
At some point, small pinholes started to develop. A large splash during a fateful laundering turned the solid blue jersey into a sort of cloudscape. It's actually remarkable how it looks so much like a cloud print by complete accident. I don't think I could recreate it if I tried.
After a tremendous amount of sleep wear, I began to reconsider the shirt as I reached the pinnacle of my 'punkdom' as a teen. Suddenly, my touristy summer tshirt (with the help of some rogue bleach I might add) became the ultimate punk rock garment. I continued to wear this one until both my punk phase, and the shirt itself, ran its natural course and reached its ultimate un-wearability.
These were my mom's shoes. My mom gives me a lot of her shoes because we are the same size foot (my grandma has the same size too, and they both have fantastic taste, so I gladly took their hand me downs). My mom wore them from my age until her forties. These are the kind of shoes you could refer to as timeless. She bought two pairs, one gold and one black. The gold pair were at some point destined to be black as well, but only one received the dye. So now I have two pair, three black, one gold. The idea that well made shoes last a lifetime is true, evidenced by the duration of these flats. I can even wear them without socks and get away with it.
When I moved to Boston for college from southern California, I was very ill equipped for the cold weather. I discovered the Garment District (and their "Dollar A Pound" clothing section) a few months into the fall and it became a frequent haunt of mine and the source of about 75% of my college wardrobe. I remember picking up quite a few wool sweaters, an entirely new concept to me, including this lovely brown cardigan. The pockets are fake. The buttons were systematically replaced as they fell off while traversing the streets of Boston. I found this brown cardigan to be exactly the right softness, length, color, collar, and warmth.
Large holes were mended with colorful darning, using crewel embroidery thread from kits I often picked up at thrift stores. The "Utopia" pin came from my partner's former radio show (there were 12 pins overall I believe) and once it went on the sweater it never came off. This mostly lives in the closet collecting cat hair as I can't bear to part with it, but it's a bit too ratty for wearing out into the world.
Burgundy Westbrook's Grandma Sweater
When I went to visit my partner's family in northern California for the first time, we made a trip to some good friends of theirs' dairy farm. We spent the day eating delicious lunch, driving around the property looking at cows, and watching bald eagles by the river bank. It was a lovely outing. At this time in my life, I was quite fond of wearing vintage clothing and my job at a vintage clothing boutique was part of the elevator pitch my in-laws had been giving other friends and family. At the end of our visit, the one of the family friends who had grown up on that farm led me to a closet and revealed a small collection of vintage clothing that had belonged to his mother. A few suits, a bed jacket, a coat, and two handknit sweaters just my size, somewhat moth-eaten but beautiful.
While the suits don't fit - they live as display pieces in my studio - the sweaters were washed, darned, and put into heavy rotation. This one is my favorite. The navy flannel elbow patches were added to worn elbows. The buttons are original. My cat loves sleeping on this one too.
While these garments (with exception of the shoes) don't get much wear anymore, I can't bear to part with them. I thought sharing about them would serve to memorialize them, regardless of where they end up (though, most likely, I'll keep them).
In a way, I wish I could document the story of every piece of clothing I've ever had. I can think of plenty of garments of my past that I loved and lost or let go. (I've been thinking for some time about a project around this idea, more on that to come!)