Sunday, April 11, 2010

Textile Scrapbooks

Hello, blogger buddies. Maybe, if you're old enough, this will bring back a few bad fashion memories.

Textile Scrapbooks

I was sifting through the contents of my closet the other day when an idea struck me like a pointy-toed stiletto. I confess. I am a clothing sentimentalist. What is that, you ask? A clothing sentimentalist preserves cherished memories through fabric and design. We have textile scrapbooks instead of the kind with photographs and hoard outfits associated with important events in our lives.

I’m sick, I know, but in my fashion time capsule, I have dresses sewn before the invention of microwave ovens, personal computers, and VHS video players.

Obviously, if you’ve chosen to store away your wedding gown or your children’s heirloom blessing ensemble, it’s understandable. I have those, of course, and that sort of memento is normal. Saving the peach suit I wore before my wedding is okay, too. Keeping the formal gowns from my vocal recitals in college pushes the boundaries a bit. But why, oh why, have I retained the Victorian drop-waist pinstripe number with matching bowler hat from my high school days? Steampunk may be in style again, but my daughters wouldn’t consider wearing it.

Worse still, I have Ralph Lauren denim stirrup pants! Sweatshirts with the neck cut out, shoulder-padded—and I mean padded—power suits, acid-wash peg-leg pants, circa ’85 lace Madonna gloves. Beaded and bedazzled sweaters, broom handle skirts, business ties for women, and gypsy patchwork sundresses. Opaque leggings, Donna Karan onesie blouses, Barbara Bush pearls . . . The shameful list could go on and on. And I’m not even highlighting the tacky Durran, Durran, Miami Vice, or paisley-everything era.

After witnessing the invention of the mini-skirt, I’ve seen it reappear twice on the fashion scene since then, decades apart. Pant legs have veered from wide to skinny to wide to skinny again. I have some of all of these stored away. And what woman can forget where they were the first time they purchased their original pair of Sbicca wedges or Candie's mules?

So why do I waste valuable shelf space on these things? I think I’ve figured that out. I was happy when I wore those clothes. I liked who I was back then, and I take out my textile scrapbook, and say to myself, “See? This is who you used to be.” Before adulthood, before mortgage payments, children, and wrinkles, when the future was scary and uncertain yet full of possibilities and promise.

I love my life now. I’m living what that girl from long ago dreamed of doing. Even so, I don’t want to forget her entirely. I may release my hold on the past and donate my couture relics to charity one day. But not yet.

Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine, would have an aneurism, a cardiac infarction, a grand mal seizure, hives, and a nervous tic simultaneously if she laid eyes on my collection.

Look away, Anna, look away.


  1. I believe I was at that Madonna concert! Was it from the Virgin tour? (May, 1985)

  2. I horde my clothes away as well! But I've cut off all of the shoulder pads! At least they are still wearable without them. hehe. What are stirrup pants? I guess I missed that fashion.

  3. I had some of those stirrup pants. They were sooooo cool. We thought they made us look slim and maybe they did. And the shoulder pads. What was up with that?? I wish I had some of those clothes. I have a few things I've kept....of course the yellowing wedding dress that my daughter will never wear.
    Great post!

  4. I'm like you, can't throw those dated cloths out. I remember playing dress-up in my mother's Hepburn a-line dresses and hope my kids will have fun with my black stirrup pants and red cowboy boots.

    Madonna was fab, wasn't she??

    ((hugs)) Nicole

  5. I admit I'm too young for this post, but I really enjoyed reading it anyway. You have a wonderful voice in your writing, Roxy. :)

  6. Great article! It sounds like my textile scrapbook: lace gloves, stone washed jeans, Def Leppard cut neck sweatshirt, not to mention t-shirts with the names of every sports group I was a part of and every diner I loved...the embarrasing list could go on forever, but I'll top it off with a red knit sweater vest my mom bought me when I was six. I should throw things away, but the touchable memories are too wonderful to give up.

  7. I do the same thing! It pains me to get rid of clothes I wore when something special happened in my life, I still have this red jacket type thing I wore on my first real Valentine's date (who is now my hubby). I love reading these humor columns, you're so good at that. Keep em coming!! :):)

    And you are quite the fashionista :)

  8. Ooh, stirrup pants! I loved wearing those!

  9. Hi Roxy. This post rings a bell with me – my textile scrapbook consists of my school uniform kilt, paisley shirt, cycling shorts with fluorescent strip, cowboy suede waistcoat with tassels (not sure that was ever in fashion actually), various Pre-Raphaelite style dresses now only worn as fancy dress, and an orange punk wig.

  10. Awwwww

    I still have my ra-ra skirts, my dayglo tights, my "Choose Life" t-shirt and wish the 80's would return already (minus madonna! LOL! - Kidding!!!).

    But fear not Roxy - you are so RETRO and that's so IN that even the scary Ms Wintour can't argue!!!!

    Wake me up before you go-go!


    Take care

  11. Loved this article! For me, the 80s were fun for the music more than the clothes. Gah! I still cringe seeing how bad a pear-shaped person like me looked in the skinny pants and shoulder pads.

    I KNOW I'm going to have a terrible time parting with boot-cut jeans, no matter how dated they look. I think I get nostalgic for eras when the clothes actually flatter my figure! :-)

  12. I AM old enough to remember all that, and still have most of the clothes. My mother always maintained that fashion comes back around so you should see HER closet.

    Thanks for the laugh this morning Roxy.

  13. Great article! I have loads of clothes tucked away in the attic. I can't imagine throwing them out!

    And oh yes - boot cut jeans ROCK! :)

  14. Maybe you also keep all those things because you know they'll come back in style someday.

    I did have to cringe when I read "stirrup pants"....

  15. I think it's wonderful that you still have them! What a fun treasure. I loved my stirrup pants.

  16. You had me chuckling at the Madonna lace gloves and the Barbara Bush pearls. Have you considered selling them on ebay? I bet you could make a fortune!


  17. 'Worse still, I have Ralph Lauren denim stirrup pants!"

    I laughed reading the whole rest of that paragraph. Hey, save onto it long enough and you can open a museum - a tragic 80s museum.

    While I didn't save any of those items, I think I owned them all. The other day I was remembering the coordinating sweat outfits, the sweatshirt with the rainbow that went onto the sleeves, and the ones with the big animal heads on them. Why exactly did I find that stuff attractive? Worse - I coveted those flea market finds.

    Don't even ask how I dressed for the Prince concert.

  18. Oh man, I worked my stirrup pants into the early 90's.
    My L.A. Gear denim jacket.
    The 80's were indeed good times.

    That said, I didn't keep any of it, as I like shopping and keeping current, and don't you know that we've gone to no less than 5 80's parties in the last couple of years? I had to buy stuff on bay! And it was pricey! (by the way, the parties were a blast, and very funny)

  19. For some reason I can't comment on your blog. I can only leave ones where the comment box pops up. I'm not sure why. But I'm visiting my mom this morning so I thought I'd try it out on her computer. : )If this works, just know I'm reading even if I can't comment al the time.

    Your textile scrapbook was fantastic! I have many of those same items in my closet! They are hard to party with. Let's face it the 80's were a fun fashion decade. I loved your post. :)

  20. Great visual memory. Thanks for the laugh. I was w/a friend at the coffee shop when I read this, so had to share what I was laughing at.

  21. I laughed when I saw that picture. It reminded me of the year I dressed up as Cindy Lauper for Halloween. It took like an hour to comb out my hair afterward.

  22. Please, oh please don't get rid of your things!! I started throwing everything away right before I got married (I have a hoarder mother). I wish I had my old concert t-shirts back! Morrissey, Duran Duran, U2, REM, even old high school year books and notes. :( so sad