October 30, 2005

Like wine

When Oscar Madison started an old clothes meme, Phantom Scribbler answered the challenge with a beautifully poetic post. Then Scrivener chimed in by bragging that he still wears a shirt from 1989. Unlike Phantom, I've got nothing poetic to say on the topic, but I can brag that I have lots of clothes that are older than Scrivener's t-shirt. For that matter, I have clothes older than Scrivener.

I've got a sweatshirt from 1988, a hand-me-up from Urban Sophisticate Sister. She graduated from high school that year and the sweatshirt bears the words I've Had the Time of my Life, which was the theme song for her class. The sweatshirt has a bloodstain on the sleeve from a traumatic car accident I was in 1991.

I've got two pairs of shoes from 1987. I remember the year because my first child had just turned a year old, and I was startled to discover that even though I was back to my normal pre-pregnancy weight, my feet had gotten a half size bigger. (Has that happened to anyone else?) So I went shopping with a friend and bought two pairs of black dressy shoes - one pair to wear with pants and the other to wear with a dress. These are still the only dress-up type shoes in my closet. I have not bought a pair since.

I've got bright yellow raingear from 1985, a full set that I bought at the Farm and Tractor Store. The store has since gone out of business, but I still wear the raingear up at camp. I do have a nicer raincoat that I wear at conferences and on occasions when I don't particularly want to look like a farmer.

I've got silk lingerie from 1984, the year I got married. Expensive silk wears well and never goes out of style. Besides, it never stays on long, and doesn't need to be washed that often. Spouse does the laundry in our household, and he is willing to take the time to wash silk by hand.

I've got a red sweatshirt from 1982, bought during college. It's got the name of the college written on the front. The sleeves are a bit ragged, and it's got holes from where campfire sparks have landed, but it is still the sweatshirt I wear at camp. I've got t-shirts from that era too, soft and worn. I'm planning to buy a new sweatshirt when I go visit my favorite north country blogger.

I've got a Lopi wool sweater that I knit in 1981 when I was living in London as a college student. It's a beautiful sweater but I don't wear it that often because it is really too warm.

I've got a white head scarf given to me in 1981 by a Muslim woman from Saudi who lived in my building in London. I don't have much occasion to wear it, but sometimes I will pull it out and put it on to demonstrate to someone how to properly put on a head scarf.

I have a red chamois shirt from 1979, my first year in college, given to me by a male friend that I was sort of dating. Well, maybe he didn't actually give me the shirt; I think I borrowed it and never returned it. I used to steal shirts from male friends all the time, especially flannel shirts and especially if I had a crush on the man. Nothing is as versatile as a flannel shirt. You can wear it as a beach cover-up, wad it together to use as a pillow, or even carry firewood in it. And I love the way a shirt smells if a man has been wearing it.

I've got a puffy down coat from 1977, the very first item of clothing I bought with my own money, just after I started working. I was a sophomore in high school, and I think down coats had just been invented. I do have a newer ski parka that I wear to campus and to the ski slopes, but when I am working on trails in my own woods, getting covered with mud, this is the coat I wear.

I've got a long red stocking cap, blue yarn mittens, wool socks, and several scarves from the 1960s, stuff I wore as a child that I still keep in a bin in our laundry room, for wearing in the woods or lending to extra kids who come here. The red scarf I will probably hang on to forever because I remember clearly the year that I got it for Christmas. The third of three girls born in a row, I was very used to wearing hand-me-downs and that scarf was the first item of clothing that I can remember being brand new and all mine. I guarded it jealously, throwing a fit if one of my siblings grabbed it and tried to wear it. And the red stocking cap I bought with my grandmother on an exciting trip downtown to see all the stores decorated for Christmas. I now wear these bright red items in the woods during hunting season so that I won't get mistaken for a deer.

Looking at my closet, I would say - to be honest - that most of my clothes are pretty old. I hate shopping, and I buy clothes only when necessary. I live in a climate that does not make nudity a viable option, but if I lived on a South Sea Island, I think I would forgo the whole clothing option altogether.


Phantom Scribbler said...

My feet got bigger, too. I used to be able to buy cheaper kids' Tevas. Not anymore.

I didn't know that you knit! Lopi is my favorite yarn to work with. I made a fisherman's sweater out of Lopi for my sister, but she never wore it -- like you say, it's very, very warm.

I'm so sorry about the car accident!

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

That's quite a history woven into the fabric of your clothes.

Piece of Work said...

I'm too much of a minimalist to have many old clothes, though , like you, I hate to shop, so I tend to hold onto things longer than the average person. Nothing like this list though!
(Oh, and I am not sentimental at all, so I often throw or give things away that years later I think--oh, I should have kept that.)

kathy a said...

i still have a kilt from my HS uniform [1975], an angora sweater i loved [1974], t-shirts from college [1975-9, although daughter has stolen some for sleepwear], snow gear [1982 or so], fancy undergarments from around the time of my wedding [1984], a coat i only wear in the yard anymore [1989], and other garments up to 20 years old that are too "good" or sentimental to unload.

my shoe size went up with pregnancy, too. [i also lost all patience for heels and any degree of discomfort in shoes.]

listmaker said...

Much to my children's dismay, I'm still wearing my clogs from the 70s. My wedding shoes (1975) are still in my closet. I just gave away my husband's winter coat from college (pre-1973). I still have the pair of pink socks I wore each time I gave birth (my oldest is 23). I'm sure there's much more in the dark recesses of my closet. Yeah; I'm a sentimental packrat.

jo(e) said...

Phantom: Well, it would be more accurate to say that I used to knit. I haven't knit anything in years -- no time -- but I still remember how. I figure I will start again when I'm older and have more time.

Sometime I'll blog the story about the car accident.

Listmaker: Have you told us the story about the pink socks? I've heard some women say that their feet get cold when giving birth. I didn't wear socks (or any kind of clothing) any of the times I've given birth but I was always in a very warm room.

I don't think I am particularly sentimental about clothes. It's just that I don't buy new ones very often so of course I am still wearing the old ones ....

listmaker said...

I remember being freezing, hence the socks. No, I've never written about giving birth to my kids, although I plan to. We think we'll never forget any of it, but as time passes, especially after 20+ years, the memories do fade.

Teri said...

I have a sweater from 1986, but most of the rest of my clothes are less than 10 years old, mostly because I'm hard on my clothes and they wear out, but also because I do, occasionally, jettison stuff from my closet.

My feet got bigger too.

MomToTracyNSheri said...

Totally hell yeah on the feet thing.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Do you worry that you are surrounded by too many objects with meaning and personal history? Every post, your're like, "here's an ordinary item, and here's its role in the intricate, rich narrative of my self and my family."

Can overexposure to rich personal meaning cause cancer in mice?

Also, have you ever thought that you should be a novelist, rather than a poet?

DaniGirl said...

Aren't clothes stolen (or more gently, "borrowed") from a male crush the most wonderful clothes in the world? Plus, guys clothes are just inherently more comfy than women's clothes.

Great list, sounds like I would have fun shopping in your closet!

Yankee T said...

I love this post.

jo(e) said...

Rob: Your comments always make me laugh.

I think I will write a novel some day. This last year I've been working on a non-fiction manuscript. The blog has been me experimenting with finding my nn-fiction voice. It's fun to use whole sentences and such.

Danigirl: Yeah, there is something really nice about wearing a man's shirt, especially if it still smells like him.

Friday Mom said...

Great post. My oldest piece of clothing is a t-shirt from high school with the names of all members of my graduating class (1983).

peripateticpolarbear said...

I'll read anything you write, any genre.

I admit to having an entire Rubbermaid tub of "sentimental clothing" that I can't bear to give away or throw away but that I don't even wear anymore. I just move it around. If I was a better person, I'd at least wear it.

Songbird said...

When Pure Luck was thru-hiking the AT in 2000, he gave me a pair of gloves to take away when the lining ripped in one of them and he bought new ones. I brought it home and slept with it. It's still in my bottom dresser drawer.

Storm Front said...

Yes, my feet got bigger also and even losing the weight from the pregnancies didn't change that. Weird how that works.

Oh and BTW, love the new design of the blog and With-A-Why's Bender costume, but the others kids were right. You probably didn't want him talking like Bender, especially at school!