22 March 2010

The Fabric of Memory

It's really starting to feel like spring around here!

black and blue outfit, WIWT, denim jacket, dress, belt, skirt, OTK socks, boots
Denim jacket: Calvin Klein Jeans, Century 21
Black button-front dress: Ann Taylor Loft
Lapis necklace: from my grandmother
Blue belt: TJMaxx, remixed
Blue circle-gore ruffled skirt: Marshall's
Diamond Lace OTK socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: John Fluevog "Inge," remixed

black and blue outfit, WIWT, closeup, denim jacket, dress, belt, necklace
 photos: Fabulous Husband

Yes, the belt is a remix, even if it doesn't look like it! I've encountered reversible belts before, and they're usually relatively uninteresting: the swivel mechanism on the buckle flops between black and brown (ho-hum!) and they're sized for men's belt loops. I've always thought that they were the ideal wardrobe item for minimalist male dressers who didn't want to clutter up a closet with (horrors!) more than one belt. This skinny number, though, switches from royal blue to bright yellow. That's a reversible belt I can groove on!

I've worn denim jackets for as long as I can remember: baggy, acid-washed ones as a kid in the 80s; my boyfriend's, covered in martial arts and metal band patches, when I was in college; and this fitted little one that I bought while working on Lower Broadway, a job I lost not that long before September 11, 2001. 

Many articles of clothing can be artifacts of memory and nostalgia, but it seems that jackets, leather and denim ones most of all, remind us of the past. Maybe it's because they're durable pieces, more resistant to wear and thus more likely to stay in our closets longer? Or maybe it's because they're the outermost layer, the thing most likely to be seen and remembered by any passing stranger, literally the mask/costume/armor we present to the world. 

Inner clothing is much more intimate. There are fewer than a hundred people in this world who have seen me in my underwear (and I worked as a figure model, so that number is higher, I suspect, than most), but I cannot begin to contemplate how many people have seen me in this jacket.

Jackets stay in memory. When I was working downtown in Manhattan, I routinely saw one of the traders from the nearby exchanges. The traders were easy to pick out, because they all wore a uniform of lightweight, mesh-sided blazers, usually in navy blue polyester, over their street clothes. This guy was particularly memorable, though, because instead of the standard-issue navy poly, his jacket was bright turquoise with an allover print of rainbow trout. I know nothing else about the man: I never had the courage to ask him about his jacket, have no idea whether he was caught up in the attacks on the World Trade Center, don't even remember the face that went with the jacket. But his jacket is an indelible part of my memory.

It amuses me that every so often designers "rediscover" denim. Denim jackets are quintessential Americana. There are a few other Canonic American Wardrobe Items - the black leather motorcycle jacket, white and black T-shirts, Converse sneakers (the Chuck Taylor All-Star high-tops), medium-wash, button-fly jeans - that, while they're not always "in style," never really go out of style either. I wore Chuck T's in high school, in the era of Air Jordans and Reebok Pumps, and was very much Not Cool because of it. Now all the high-school kids in my area look like they'll part with their Chucks when someone pries them off their cold, dead feet, and David Tennant as Doctor Who has given them an aura of geeky cool. Plus ça change...

I don't know that I'll be sporting the head-to-toe denim look being touted in the glossy mags. I'm not that into any fabric head-to-toe, and really not that fond of denim to wear it thus even if I was. I am, however, glad that it's warm enough to wear this little jacket, with all its memories and history.

What articles of clothing make you remember the past? Do you have any vivid memories of certain pieces - yours or someone else's? And what are your thoughts on designers' 'rediscovery' of denim?

1 comment:

  1. It's funny, but I think I've led too much of a transient lifestyle to really have many memory items. I have changed jobs almost every two years, changed cities (and climates) about five times since I left home, and I also zealously edit my closet with things that don't fit quite right. Which could be nearly anything if your weight ever fluctuates.


Comments are moderated to reduce spam, so don't worry if they don't show up right away!