IFB PROJECT #37: When We Were Very Young… A Retrospective of Style

Over this past holidays one of my favorite nights wasn’t a big party, or a birthday dinner. It was a Thursday night. I had received 6 free tickets from the Komen Organization to see the off broadway play, Love, Loss and What I Wore, and I took 6 of my best girlfriends with me to see it.

Contrasting, and overlapping stories about love, loss, and of course, fashion. At the end, one of the characters gives a 10 minute monologue about women’s handbags. Hers, her friends, other women’s, what they look like, what we put in them, and how they can actually define us as people.

That was December, and it’s now March and I’m still thinking about that monologue, and how true it really rang. When that actress was reciting it, me and all five of my surrounding friends were laughing, and all for somewhat similar, and yet completely different reasons, between the mention of a boarding pass, old gum and candy in a bag, and then of course me.. who carries around a bag that somewhat resembles a weekender. 

But when I still think about that monologue today, I’m not struck so much by the stories of the handbags, as much as I am about how much certain accessories, or aspects of style can define us as people. 

The ways in which they represent us, sometimes perfectly, and sometimes deceivingly, and how what we cherished in our childhood symbolizes so much of how we define ourselves today as women.

Me? I’ve always been the black sheep. Or should I say the pink sheep. And I’m written many posts referring back to the old days. The days of pink prom dresses in a sea of black and white high-schoolers, fuchsia colored hair, and if we were to take the foreshadowing back even a decade further, burying myself in my mom’s closet, covered in a sea of vintage clothing, oversized pearls and giant high heels.

I would emerge from the closet wearing one of my mom’s dresses like a blanket; a mole painted onto my cheek with a black eye pencil, and pearls wrapped around me five times over.

I  would take turtlenecks of hers and slip them over my waist, tie the sleeves around the back like a belt, and rock a skirt all day long. I would cut holes in my tights, way before you could buy them in the store that way, and prance around my house like an east village vagabond, right out of Slaves of New York.

All those days prancing around my house would foreshadow decades later a redhead with a penchant for mixed colors, random pairings, and most of all, the freedom to dress the way you want, and never care what anyone else thinks. 

Before Carrie Bradshaw, before Blake Lively, and Nicole Ritchie, there was just moms with style, and daughters with admiration.

My mom never yelled at me to take off her jewelry. She never screamed at me to put away her makeup. When she would catch me in her closet, the one reserved only for vintage clothing, stoles, and fur hand warmers, she wouldn’t reprimand. In fact, the opposite. She laughed, she smiled, and luckily for me when I saw the IFB project this week, she took lots and lots of pictures. Those inspired and shaped who I am in part, so much so that one of them is the main image, and continual graphic for my blog since the day of it’s inception. 

At 31 years old, my style changes a lot. Sometimes I’m preppy, sometimes I’m hippy, sometimes I’m parisian chic, but one thing that always remains is the underlying theme that I wear what I want. And underneath everything, I’m still just a 9 year old girl painting moles onto my cheeks, and playing dress up in my mom’s closet.

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