A wee bit of a throwback – January 1956 – my brother and I posing for a quick snap, most likely taken with the family Brownie. It’s always fun for me to look back at the few old pix I have. It gives me a peek into my fashion sense – how it started and how the past influences my personal style today. Judging by my brother’s outfit, my guess is that we were going somewhere other than school on this particular day; although my outfit would have been the same had it been a school day. A little side note – notice the neighbor’s car. Yes, that was a big black Cadillac!
I loved that skirt. It was one of many wool pleated skirts that hung in my closet. My mom meticulously engineered the wool plaid into knife-edge pleats so that when I stood still, like I am in the pix, you really only see part of the plaid. However, drum roll please…when I took a step, the pleats released to show a flash of the lightest color in the plaid. So as to eliminate waist bulk, the pleats were stitched down from the waist and released low hip. (Had I had hips in those days, the style would have been quite flattering!) I remember, even as a kid, thinking that the pleat idea was so smart and stylish. I think I am wearing a lightweight cashmere sweater with the skirt – not handmade, but store-bought!
If you have a jewelry loupe you might get a kick out of the doll I am holding. She is wearing a spiffy coat and hat ensemble fastidiously tailored by Nina Brown, a wonderful neighbor up the street. Nina, being several years older than my mom and having no children of her own, seemed to adopt me to play the role of her pampered daughter! A role I loved, I might add! Nina was a fabulous seamstress and had closets full of clothes that showcased her sense of style and talents. Luckily, for me, my dolls had exquisitely tailored ensembles crafted from the remnants of all of Nina’s clothes. Yes, I was a pretty lucky kid. I also remember that we would drink tea out of pretty flowered cups with saucers and eat cookies that were home baked using German recipes – and Oscar, Nina’s Daschund, had his own chair at the table! Oddly, it wasn’t like a special tea party – in Nina’s house it was just the every day. As I write this, I wonder what little bits and bobs about time spent together will my nieces, nephews and neighbor kids remember as they grow older and look back on life. It’s all about moments…life is in the moments.
As a closing note (or rant, which I seem to be doing a lot of these days), I find it remarkable how many fabulous and creative seamstresses I had surrounding me as a kid. It’s no wonder I have a strong aversion to the copycat, disposable fast-fashion that is so in favor these days. Yes, perhaps this makes me a bit of a snob; but it is who I am and all of this is just further proof that old habits are indeed hard to break; and, in this case I am glad for that.