Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sophisticated Clothing -- the good old days

In my working lawyer days, I wore a lot of scarves.  Actually, I took pains to learn how to wear scarves, because it seemed to me that women who wore scarves seemed so professional and pulled-together.  I discovered that it's not an easy thing to do, wearing scarves.  When it's done well, it looks effortless.  But it's all too easy to end up having a wad of fabric hanging inartfully around your neck. When I got comfortable with wearing scarves, I felt like I'd truly grown up.

So here I am, years later, not dressing up to go out in the working world, and still I have all those scarves.  Today, in purge mode, I decided to clear out the scarf drawer and make room for some other things.  It's not like I wear them any more.

But oh, how hard it is to get rid of some of them, and I finally end up with a small assortment of the ones I couldn't bear to part with.  This one, for example, I bought at the actual Liberty of London's on my one and only trip to England.  I love that scarf -- not just because it's gorgeous, but because it makes me remember standing in Liberty's fondling the silk and feeling so cosmopolitan, and all the times I wore that scarf after that too.

And the scarf my friend Mela gave me for Christmas, that went so beautifully with the winter white wool suit I had.  I'd sewn the suit myself, in my just-out-of-law-school days when I didn't have much money to spend on buying clothes.  One of the few female judges complimented that suit when I wore it to court early on, too, and asked where I'd gotten it.  The suit is long gone, but I adore that scarf.  I could wear it with jeans and a turtleneck.  And the one another friend brought me back from Paris... how can I get rid of that?

Each scarf I pulled out reminded me of the dresses and suits I'd worn it with, and where I was when I got it, and how I'd hunted for something with just that color combination before I found it.  And each one reminded me of the life I had as a single working woman, when I took great pains each morning to dress carefully and match my handbag to my shoes.  Ah, it's a far cry from now, when I throw on jeans and my most active clothing decision is whether to wear the Merrill clogs or the Ugg boots.  I wasn't just sorting through scarves: I was sorting through memories.  

So I'm keeping a few that I've not worn in years, with the vow that I will try to wear them.  I love them!  And they hardly take up any room at the bottom of the drawer now.  The rest will go off to Goodwill.  I had a brief moment of wondering whether I should keep them to use them as silk fabric in a quilt ...  Hah -- another way to keep them -- see how sneaky my mind is at resisting the need to clear stuff out of the house?  But I put them in the give-away bag, and this way there's the chance that someone will wear them to work, or give them to their little girls for dress-up, or otherwise give them a new life out in the world.

Oh dear, I'm contemplating the new lives my scarves will have once they escape from my home.  It's no wonder I have a hard time getting rid of things.  But I'll carry on with my sorting -- have to stay a few steps away from those Hoarders folks, you know.  And besides, I need to make room for fabric.  


  1. I just did the very same thing last week! I no longer have to dress "up" for work everyday, so I went through my scarves and am donating those I can bear to part with, as well as a lot of my (and my late mother's) costume jewelry to Salvation Army. I kept the things I think I might actually wear to dress up a top & jeans!

  2. I have a hard time letting go of things too. My sewing room looks like it could be on a hoarders show. Good luck on letting go but it was fun reading about the memories it brought up.

  3. Ah, I just bought a beautiful silk scarf and wore it to dinner at friends tonight. Like you I seldom have need for a silk scarf anymore, but they are so beautiful it is hard to get rid of them. I suppose I should purge some of my drawerful too, but like you say, they all have memories attached. And no, you must never get rid of that Liberty scarf!

  4. STOP!
    Put them in with your fabrics.
    Iron some fusible to the back of them.
    Use them in quilts for the wall or ?????
    -OR- Better yet-
    Sew a bunch of them together for a memory quilt - Choose a very light weight batting and do minimal quiltng for a lightweight throw type summer quilt.
    They will never mean as much to anyone else as they do to you!
    A great way to share you previous life with your daughter as you tell her the story of what you remember about your previous life and how fulfilling your life is now and how happy you are to have her and your present life.

    As a granddaughter, daughter, mother and now grandmother memories are one of my most precious "possessions" that I am privileged to share with my children and grandchildren.

  5. Scarves go in and out of style and I think that you will regret getting rid of them -- I have a box of scarves that belonged to my mother and even though I rarely wear them, from time to time I enjoy going through them and remembering. Besides, they don't take up a lot of space.

  6. I vividly remember having that conversation with you about the sophistication of scarves, sometime on a visit to NH in the mid-90s!

    I hope you will always keep the Liberty scarf, at the very least ...

  7. Every time I try to give my scarves away, I decide that they will come back into style. Or how about making them into pillows?

    I can't bear to give any textiles away!

  8. I still wear fabric for bag lining, um sorry I mean scarves for work,although I favour the long thin ones. I never fathomes how to wear a square scarf. I bought a lot when we were travelling and they will hold memories too. Like spending every last chinese coin I had on scarved becuas ethey were so cheap and then remembering I needed cash for the taxi to the airport. Fortnuatley Dennis had hidden the taxi fare before we went back to the scxarf shop!