Monday, August 9, 2010

Fashion Worth Hanging Onto

Yesterday was a very relaxing day. My church had a great worship service and sermon as always, and then I went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to see the current exhibit The Golden Age of Couture (Paris and London, 1947-1957), a must-see for anyone who, like me, loves both history and fashion. My day ended with me becoming my own little curator of historical fashion artifacts. When I was back home in NC a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a box of my keepsakes that my sister had been storing for me for almost four years now, ever since I first made the move to Nashville. I have been driving around with that box in the back of my car for two weeks now and last night I finally decided to try and lift the heavy thing myself and get it out (luckily I can back my car right up to my door when necessary and even though it was very heavy, I didn’t break my back trying to lift it).

Since it had been so long when I last went through the box, I couldn’t remember exactly all that was in it. There were a few items I remembered and expected to see when I opened the box, and also in it there were at least three items I was just thinking about last week wondering, “Whatever happened to that?” (Is that a coincidence? Probably not since I don’t believe things are just coincidences.) Finally, I found some things that I had completely forgotten were in there, some “historical fashion artifacts” that I’m sure will never end up on display at The Frist but are just as priceless to me.

Now you all know how much I love shoes right? Well, I found one of my first pairs of baby shoes (see pic). Now of course these first shoes were flats, but I can remember getting my first pair of high heels when I was in the 2nd grade…they were a pair of kids’ Candies for little girls, during the time when Candies first became really popular. I wasn’t supposed to wear them to school, but I begged my mom to let me wear them even though they hurt my feet. I guess my mom understood the universal female truth that sometimes style takes precedent over comfort and so she let me wear them one day, although I don’t know why I felt the need to be styling in high heels in the 2nd grade!

Speaking of my mother and shoes, I also found a pair of my mom’s shoes I had kept that went with the dress she was buried in (in case you’re wondering about that…why she wasn’t wearing those shoes with the dress…the funeral home said shoes were unnecessary since nobody sees that part during the viewing…you learn something new everyday, don’t you?). When planning her own funeral during her battle with cancer, my mom asked me to be the one to choose the outfit for her to be buried in (this was before I even knew I would become a wardrobe stylist, again coincidence?). I chose a dress that was her favorite color (pink) that she had worn on two very special occasions, my sister’s wedding and my debutante ball. It was always a beautiful dress on her, and even though it had become too big for her due to the weight loss from her illness, the funeral home used their tricks of the trade to make it look perfect on her.

In addition to our shoes, I also found my very first skirt (a tiny red skirt with three white buttons that probably fit me when I was only about one or two-years-old) and several pairs of adult-sized satin white gloves. I think some of the gloves belonged to my mom that she must have worn with her gowns to the Marine Corps balls she and my dad attended each year, and a couple of pairs belonged to me including a pair I wore to prom and an-over-the-elbow pair I had to have for my deb ball. Seeing all the couture clothing and photographs at The Frist yesterday and then finding those gloves last night made me wish I lived in a time of such elegance. But then seeing in the art display all the torture-device-type undergarments women had to wear in the 40s and 50s made me thankful this is the year 2010!

Probably the funniest items I found in the keepsake box were my old Barbie dolls dressed in my favorite outfits I had picked out for them, and one of the fashion plates from my Tomy Toys Fashion Plates (see pic) that my grandmother had given me for Christmas one year. Because of the all hours I would spend dressing my Barbies and creating designs from my Fashion Plates, I knew I wanted to one day work in fashion. It took me a while to get there because first I had to (with much trial and error at first) develop my own sense of style, and also there were other things I had to learn that would prepare me for working with such unique clients as recording artists.

Some people may look at clothes, shoes, and other fashion artifacts as just material things, and in the grand scheme of it all, they are just that, things. But like other objects such as a guitar or a set of drumsticks, fashion artifacts can inspire creativity and even a purposeful career. And they can hold sentimental value that invokes loving memories that are absolutely irreplaceable!

One of my first pairs of shoes!
Tomy Toys Fashion Plates (photos courtesy of

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