Saturday, 2 February 2013

To Do What I Want Any Old Time

Do you have anything in your wardrobe which brings back such visceral memories of a gold-lit time period with an intensity that is almost painful? 




Picture these boots with the same tights, frayed jean shorts, a purple tank top, and Mardi Gras beads. Or black hose, black velvet mini skirt, and sheer black top with amazingly huge flared sleeves, and a round deepest-cherry-red stained glass pendant from Camden Market. There was a whole lotta-lot of dancing then. 


blouse: I.C. Paris, Dillard's
burgundy velvet vintage blazer: Marjorie Hamilton, from among my grandma's belongings
buttonflowers and obi belt: Megan Mae Designs
burgundy suede skirt: Danier, early 1990s, last worn here
blue floral tights: early 1990s (I'm serious!)
my #1 favourite ankle boots of all time ever: Fluevog Swordfish, fall 1991




Today's outfit required a combination of other emotionally rich and weighty pieces to counterbalance the pull: my first-apartment-by-myself skirt, grandmother's blazer, shirt from a shopping excursion with my mom, and obi and buttonflowers made by my friend Megan Mae - the belt and bluest flowers generous gifts.  




Staying nearer to the present moment, I was stoked that my blog was highlighted in Marianne's article at xoJane.com together with Megan, Sheila, Melanie, and Helga (some of my FAVOURITE-favourites!). The author concluded with a hope to identify blogs with greater body diversity, and asked in particular, "Do you read any style blogs from women who aren't white, middle class Canadians?"




The huge excited comment I tried to leave was so jam-packed with delicious links that Disqus ate it whole - several times - and seems now to believe me to be the motherlode of yummy spam. Here's what I wanted to add to the discussion (note that not all of my recommendations fit every single one of Marianne's criteria): 





"Thank you so much for including my blog in your fantastic article, Marianne - I am thrilled to be in such stellar company, AND there are lace jeans! For everyone! The certain freedoms and relief which can result from outsider status are beautifully articulated, as is the effect of more intentional media consumption on our 'normal.' One small correction - I do not identify as able-bodied.






In addition to the divine Helga, and other commenters’ many marvellous recommendations, folks may enjoy:


(Unfortunately, neither Style Agent 909 nor Big Girl. Small Budget. Tiny Town. seem to be posting at present, and the latter is further invite-only.) 

The +40 Blogroll at Citizen Rosebud and Visible Monday weekly link round-ups at Not Dead Yet Style are also goldmines of unique voices."






A quick note further to not identifying as able-bodied - I don't go into detail here, as that's not what my blog is about. Though I do sometimes talk about serious things, "the serious seriousness" that my sidebar indicates me to be taking a break from is an umbrella which covers a mega-ton of personal and work situations.

To put it another way (as I was saying recently to the Forest City Fashionista) "Sometimes the outfits are the only benefit to not being a head-in-a-jar." Or, even less maturely, "Can SOMEthing in my LIFE just not BE about that. GOD."

Style on, my friends! See y'all at Visible Monday, and thank you so much for visiting.


53 comments:

  1. Those are really cool boots. I love your blazer. What a lovely color.

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  2. The colours in this outfit are simply gorgeous. :) I have a lot of pieces that hold sentimental value as well. Especially ones given as gifts from people I haven't seen in forever and that kind of thing. Congrats on being mentioned in the article. My very favourite thing about the blogging world is that so many different kinds of people ("average" people, if you will, though I don't like the term) can have a voice. I find that infinitely more fascinating than a carefully calculated collection of voices (who all happen to be young, white, attractive, etc.).

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    1. Thanks! I gravitate toward bloggers who post about what they wear as they go about their lives, and who also give some thought to ethics and consumption. I steer away from blogs where there's a lot of negative body-talk (or a total orientation / positioning according to the narrow mainstream fetishization of youth / thinness you mention).

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  3. " Do you have anything in your wardrobe which brings back such visceral memories of a gold-lit time period with an intensity that is almost painful?"
    Yes I do - oddly it is a humble beach sarong!
    I can imagine dancing the night away in Camden Town would have been golden in memory for many - my gold lit nights dancing were more in Brixton and East London.
    Love your deep cherry and burgundy pieces - Burgundy has to be one of my favourite colours. Wonderful use of the obi belt!

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    1. Sounds like it's got stories in its very weave! Thanks, V!

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  4. I love your roundup of pieces with strong emotional associations. It's amazing how evocative a simple pair of shoes can be. You look really smashing in those burgundies.

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  5. All that burgundy is lovely. I've been seeing a lot of burgundy and olive lately (not together), and would like more of both those colors in my wardrobe. I used to have quite a few things in burgundy back in high school, but I have very few old pieces. I've moved so many times, and just didn't see the value in hanging on to a lot of things. Now I wish I had!

    Congratulations on the article! After I read it, and I thought about the blogs I read, I thought What is it with all the Canadians? A culture of good taste and eloquence? Whatever it is, I often wish I was there.

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    1. I think Canada and and burgundy-and-olive-together are pretty awesome! Come on over / combine them!

      I would say that the downsides to hanging on to All The Things can be space issues and the weight of having too much stuff in general - there can be freedom in increasing the rate at which one re-releases items back into the wild.

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  6. I think those boots still got some dancin' left, Amber. I use my blog as a little break from serious-seriousness-which-is-getting-even-seriouser, and I love all the bloggers you recommended. Cheers to strong, independent, and style original bloggers!

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    1. I've been thinking of you. I love the culture of support and celebration in this corner of the internet.

      I have an arm's length of blogs I wanted to also recommend (including yours, Dross Into Gold, Secondhand Years, Walking Colours, Reading in Skirts, even Alterations Needed, and the unfortunately not-currently-active Natasha Fatah though she is Canadian, and Undead Dandy though she is not 40+). We each of us can find (or create for ourselves!) our ideal set of intersectionalities among the countless style blogs out there, however for this author and the commenters there, the longing for 'body diversity' seemed -to me- to mean specifically not-thin, which guided my recs more than the other criteria listed off.

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  7. I only have a fraction of the things I coulda-shoulda-woulda hung on to. Oh well. I can only hope they're out there in some thrifter's closet, being worn and enjoyed. I can just imagine you in the '90's!! Too cool. I was chasing a toddler and meeting the school bus. But I still managed to get it in, I guess. Congrats on your mention and I also love the links you suggested.

    I would agree style blogging can be a lifeline when the rest of the life-stuff gets really hard. Here's to playing dressup!!

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    1. I believe that special garments re-released into the wild in whatever manner, whether we feel quite ready or yet continue to have pangs years later, will find their way to the right person. The energetic capacity and magic of some pieces is actually palpable.

      YES on dressing for strength, escape, joy, connection, mood, levity, groundedness, and more! As I was saying to Lynne above, you're one of my FAVOURITE-favourites!

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  8. I was thrilled to be mentioned in the company of so many great bloggers, including you, Amber!

    I love those Swordfish shoes - have you checked out the Flueblog lately? There are some new ones coming that I covet (including the Coopers for L). You look great in burgundy - lovely colour on you.

    I have more of an emotional connection from my jewelry than from my clothes, from my past. Mostly because I don't have much clothing from back then, but also because I have so many wonderful pieces from the women of my family.

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    1. Oh, yes-I-have been eyeing up the Swordfish revival! I so wish for a women's style, but then again maybe not because then I would have to buy them.

      I despair of finding a cobbler to give these beauties - and these http://butaneanvil.blogspot.com/2012/10/vintage-vogs-and-velveteen.html with their amazing but crumbling sculpted lifts - the tlc they need. I'm at the point of having to drive an hour-plus and haven't yet come across a well-recommended person to try rusting with my beloved footwear.

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    2. *trusting (with my rusting footwear, lol)

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  9. Beautiful beautiful boots! I'm also blown away at those tights! You've definitely got many dancing years ahead. I love seeing MMD accessories pop up in my feed. I know I make sales, but it's really a genuine surprise to see people wearing them!

    I agree with the blogging get-away-from-it-all, but I do also use it to talk about some Serious Things. I've found the occasions I have, someone has reached out needing to talk. Call it the psychologist in me.

    I will say I had a bit of a visceral reaction to the phrase 'able-bodied', especially since there is no way you can assume such things from photos of people. And the assumption that someone blogging IS middle class or higher is a bit frustrating too. I work very hard at "below-poverty level" to stay looking stylish. It is possible to look nice at any price point.

    I totally agree with many of your recommendations. I have people of many colors, countries, and styles on my reading list. I read what inspires me, people who I can connect with on a special level. I have bloggers who wear headscarves, plus, petite, pregnant and more! who I read daily.

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    1. I love my MMD accessories! Yes, though there was much awesomeness (I always love to read about the freedoms associated with outsider status and the positive effects of intentional media consumption), that bit of the article stood out. I'm very happy about "not-perfect" blogs, because, dude, spare me from the perfectionism imposed on women's appearances as well as 'having it all / doing it all well," and back we are to mainstream media vs. my preference for people rather than products.

      As I was saying to Lynne, the recommendations I hoped to include in the comments were guided by one of the criteria more than the others, a decision I also based upon hopes identified by other commenters. Further to intersectionality, one which didn't come up at all was diversity in gender presentation vs. heteronormativity / cis privilege, else I'd have been tooting the horn of the brilliant, thoughtful, and stylish Ally of Shybiker and incredibly glamorous Ulla Marie of Dude (looks like a Lady).

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  10. Love the swordfish family. I have some swordfish granny boots that I love to pieces.

    With regard to your first question, a lot of my clothes remind me of happier times with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. He was very good at present buying and knowing what I would like. The most significant piece is my Alexander McQueen blouse with bones/skulls on it. I saw it on ebay for much less than the original sales price and he bought it for me. I haven't been able to wear it since we separated but I can't bear to part with it. Someday I will wear it again.

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    1. I know the boots you mean, such a score! Yes, be ever so kind to yourself, especially when change is fresh. I like your perspective, including both the for-now and the someday - thank you for the story of the blouse.

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  11. Your pointy toe boots may be fine worthy! (see my blog for explaination of that!)

    Love the rich colors of your outfit as well as the rich memories it evokes for you~

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  12. I no longer have any items of clothing from my 20's and 30's because I was extremely thin then, and don't fit into anything from that time period. My only holdover from the 1990's are my Swear platform boots, which I have found a renewed affection for. I tend to have sentimental attachments to books, or pieces of music that I associate from a particular time period in my life.

    Those are such gorgeous boots, I completely understand your attachment and fondness for them...

    I try to keep my blog from venturing too far into personally serious territory to keep some boundaries between my personal and public life, and because I consider my blog to be a positive and entertaining escape from the mundane day to day stuff. Most of the bloggers I follow seem to be of the same mind about this. A certain amount of sharing is important in order to give a sense of the person behind the blog and in some cases, confirms the feeling that this is someone you would definitely want to know in person. I'm looking forward to when we have that opportunity and I can see some of your fabulous shoes in person ;)

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    1. Another thing that makes it hard to get rid of clothes is that my body size has fluctuated over the years as well! Fond attachments are contributing to my closet space issue - to have such a very good (near-freakish) long-term memory, and to feel so strongly about everything are sometimes liabilities, lol.

      Do you also get the sense that boundaries are very different and much more diffuse for generations younger than us, who grew up in what was already the internet age? It's a different skill set altogether, navigating the prolific public-and-permanent.

      Can't wait to meet you too! Soon-soon-soon!

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  13. Ah Amber, it is so heartening to see that there's a multitude of voices/looks being appreciated where before they may have fallen on deaf ears. Mixed metaphors but you get the picture. Good to know folks like the likes of you. I sure do. There's a list of women, many of the ones you've mentioned (throw in Joni of Walking Colors, Revas Rags to Roses, Desiree of Pull Your Socks Up! and the Dusk Zone, Vintage Vixen, etc etc) and they are the ones who inspire me- who help me decide whether or not to rock pointy boots, hounds tooth, leopard with plaid. They are the style makers- because they make style in their own image: smart, individual and sassy. Thanks for the mention and the love. You look ably dressed, if not able bodies. Hugs.

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    1. I'm happily amazed that people read and follow my blog! A whole bunch of them have arrived here thanks to you - your gathering and maintenance of the +40 Blogroll is an amazing wellspring of inspiration and an extremely important living cultural document. Thanks for these additional amazing recommendations, some new to me, some I already know and love well. Bloom exuberantly on, dear Bella!

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  14. I'm inspired by hearing your stories of how long you've held on to some of your clothing pieces. I can't say I've hung on to any of my old things but sure wish some of them were still around. I seem to change my mind a lot about what I like or want to keep. Then, once it's gone sometimes I regret it.
    Beautiful burgundy boots!

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    1. Yay, another of my FAVOURITE-favourite bloggers! I love learning about peoples' different approaches to things - I think of your Debbie Harry t-shirt and recall that outfit post being a tribute to a past intrepid you as well as incorporating your well-earned wisdom and perspective. Thanks, Joni!

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  15. I appreciate your philosophical attitude to clothing and your shoes ROCK!

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  16. I am not surprised every blogger is talking about you, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh You are one of a kind.
    Thank you for the mention.I am so honoured!!!
    What a wonderful place to be is the bloggosphere, yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    I love and WANT, WANT all your shoes, and especially these boots, ahhhhhhhhhhh
    You kill me everytime.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. Noooooo, Sacramento - please don't die!!!! You are way too fabulous and dear. :D
      Love & xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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  17. I love your evocative descriptions of the elements of your outfit, Amber, where they came from, the associations and the memories. I think I see you, with your long hair and those boots and tights, and the shorts, and the dancing - yes, I do!
    I don't have so many clothes from back in the day, but music certainly has that visceral take-me-back-there power.
    I love your soft textures and burgundy today, I love that the jacket was your grandmother's, and that those well-loved boots are still going strong!

    About the article - I commented over at Megan's that while the overall tone was supportive and positive, I struggled a bit with the implied criticism of the white/middle class/able-bodied/standard size nature of the bloggers mentioned. Assumptions have been made here, at a cursory glance, about class (I'm British, we are obsessed with this topic!) and disabilities/health issues, which bloggers may well wish to keep private. The blogging community is huge, there is something out there for everyone if you look for it, and while I understand the desire for some commonality and shared experience, it would be a terrible shame only to read blogs written by people just like me. It's not fair to criticise oranges for not being apples. You want apples, go look for apples! Me? A whole fruit salad, please! My favourite bloggers are not my favourites because of their age, size, etc etc, but because they speak to me in voices which entertain and stimulate and support and delight. Like you, my friend! xxxxx

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    1. Loving, wise, and articulate as ever, my dear Curtise! Thanks so much for your kind words, and for everything you add to delicious, delicious fruit salad! Yum!!! xoxo

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  18. Thank you for the mention, dear Amber, and for this wonderful writing -- clothing has a lot of power, doesn't it? Just reading about your boots' journeys made me reflect on my own! And your tights, buttonflowers and obi belt are so fabulous - mixing your newest memories into the older ones.

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  19. This blog today was just what I was looking for....inspiration on what to wear to attend a class at church this morning led by my friend Pastor Julie, my husband's assistant...on her (our) trip to Palestine last fall....phew. I think I'll wear MY pointy toed, black suede ankle boots and my paisley tights. The bottom is taken care of, now what to put on top. Hmmm. I love your colors today. The wine, velvet would be perfect out here in the Wisconsin frigid air. Maybe I have something in my concert blacks closet that is similar. You ROCK girlfriend!

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  20. You are the goddess of amazing belts and shoes dear Amber! Another gorgeous outfit, those rich red berry colours in the different textures of velvet and leather are exquisite. Like you, I've chosen to blog to get away from the seriousness of seriousness in certain aspects of my life. I do hope you find blogging is nourishing your playfulness as it does for me.

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  21. I am a hoarder extraordinaire and have been most my life, so I still have many pieces in my wardrobe that evoke memories of a gold-lit time period and some of the darker days too.
    Everyday I find that want something different from the blogosphere; one day I want to be engulfed in words and the next I’m happy to simply soak up visual amusement.
    I do occasionally get a wee bitty bored with the formulaic outfit posts, ”This is what I am wearing today, THE END!”
    I find it especially tedious when the outfit displayed is completely devoid of individuality and you feel as if you are browsing Topshop’s latest lookbook.
    So when I come across someone who invests a little bit more personality, expressiveness & panache into their posts I tend to hang around.
    Have a great week...x

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    1. "Topshop's latest lookbook" - has me moving along elsewhere as well. It's a blogger's particular individuality and uniqueness that draws me in. Thanks for this comment!

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  22. First off, those boots! Seriously...LOVE. They look perfect for dancing too.

    Congrats on the shout out in the article. That has to feel good.

    About the other issues...I feel that the biggest reason why I will follow someone is because I identify with them. If all they do is talk about their kids and how their baby is I'm not likely to want to follow them because I don't have kids or a new baby.

    For style inspiration that can come from anywhere, but I am so tired of seeing "the same outfit" on every single blogger. Cue the bubble necklace with the JCrew pencil skirt and chambray shirt. If the blogger isn't bringing something new to the table, either via how they combine patterns, or wear something creatively unless they are very humorous or living a life that I covet (just moved to Paris) then the chances are that I simply won't follow them for long. This whole blog readership is about identifying, or fantasizing.

    Regarding sentimental value of clothing, last week I posted myself wearing a 1950's dress from my Mom. That's just about as special as it gets.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://bisous.typepad.com/bisous/

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    1. Thanks for the congrats - being linked to in Marianne's article was a fabulous surprise, as is the whole concept that people read my blog!

      I appreciate your thoughtful input here, and "as special as it gets" sounds exactly right - how lovely!

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  23. Amber, thank you so much for mentioning my blog with such fabulous bloggers. You inspire me so very much with your elegant and creative outfits and your thoughtful posts.

    I love this outfit because it has so many elements in it that speak to me. The burgundy and blue are colors that I can feel as being a part of me. That you combine it with button flowers an obi from one of my favorite way under 40 bloggers, Megan Mae, makes it even more special to me. Also, you look beautiful!

    This post and XOJane's post have given me an idea for a post. That is one of the things I love about blogging--the give and take that helps make me a better person. (At least I hope it does.)

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    1. Debbi, you are so very awesome that I can't imagine you being better than you already are. :)
      The ideas and connections and inspirations, so fine! Thank you for your heartfelt comments and posts.

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  24. Beautiful pics of an amazing outfit with your time-honoured boots:). They've lasted so well, especially with all the dancing and I imagine, speaking from personal experience, withstanding the splashes of sticking drinks, cigarette ash and lots of thumping about:). The brooch on your vintage jacket is beautiful. Yes, I understand having a break from what is my "that" too. xo

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    1. Dear Desiree, it's amazing that any of us survive, and with only a few signs of wear, considering!
      Thank you for your kind feedback and for getting "that" (although I am sorry that you do). xoxo

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  25. Dancing boots in the color of burgundy are surely a lifelong treasure. Your ensemble composed of pieces with emotional associations speak to dressing as an art form and a means of self expression. This is why I seldom release a beloved piece that is filled with memories, and if I can wear it at least once in 20 years, it's a keeper.

    Very thoughtful post and the comments were equally intriguing. I love the diversity that blogging brings and the voices that enter my world that I would not enjoy if it were not for this vibrant community.

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    1. In response to some of your recent writing, I return to an integrative perspective on the arc of my life. I'm incredibly fortunate to have come across incredible blogs, and to have such brilliant and fascinating people commenting here - thank you, Judith!

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  26. Fabulous outfit and such a thought-provoking post!!

    As someone who deals with a "that" on a daily basis, blogging is my way of escaping or transcending my reality for a bit.

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  27. Love the boots! I am a sucker for them. What a great look put together.

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  28. Dear Amber, thank you so much for mentioning me in your post! Let me tell you, I enjoy your blog very much, and I'm often inspired by you. I love your very individual style, and the bits about your life and thoughts.

    Never before have I had a hobby that I've been so passionate about, that in return has given me so much. But without the feedback it wouldn't work. So, I'm very grateful for your mentioning me, and for all your lovely comments on my blog!

    Today's outfit is gorgeous - I particularly like your velvet blazer. I have a weakness for velvet - the luxurious feel and the colours, which seem extra rich in this material. In addition velvet is a nice, warm material - important in Northern climates!

    Non of the old clothes that I've kept fit me anymore - I was a size 4, now I'm 14! However, I know my daughter will soon fit right into these items, and they do come with a story!

    There's the suede blazer that was my mothers, a dress my mother made (she's extremely good at sewing!) from expensive handmade African Wax died fabric (still very very beautiful!)in the 1970's, an incredible 1970's, wrap style, black top with sheer sleeves and pleated frills, a hand me down from my BFF's mother before she died - extremely feminine and flattering even on a nearly flat chest, which I had back then. There's also the dress I wore on the night I met my husband, and the dress I wore at our engagement party. Finally there's the striped velvet jacket that I made myself at the age of 18. It's very fitted and the lining is attached by hand, with little embroidered loops for the pewter buttons.

    Non of the items are things I can wear today, but I love the thought of passing them on to my daughter, and hope to see her in a couple of the things.

    If anything fit I would certainly wear them. I love the feeling of wearing a piece of history, mine or others'!

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    1. Yes, the engagement and feedback of a community is what makes blogging so dynamic. I love your blog as well, it fit most of the criteria that Marianne was seeking, and I thought of you instantly!

      Thank you so much Tine for the stories of these wonderful garments in your life which remain in your family! How very precious to pass them along to your daughter.

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  29. Yes, clothes are always time-slipping me into different stages of my life and even other people's lives - real and ficticious. With so many moves, most of my special pieces are gone now, although I've given many to relatives and can visit favourites in their closets.
    Your boots are, gulp, yes. As are the tights and velvet and pretty much everything else. Dance, woman, dance! You are beautiful.
    My stats went wonky with the xojane mention... I thought something was broken. It was definitely a thrill. Like you, though, I would not describe myself in the herd terms that Marianne used in summation. I'm sure there's a thesis in there, if it hasn't already been done. I love reading all the wonderful comments you get here, Amber!!

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    1. Speaking of my genius commenters, hi Melanie! Absolutely stupendous to be co-featured with you, and such a gift that people read and engage.

      If I gave in to my inclination to thesis-ize, it would begin with a simple shift in attribution of homogeneity - from among the objects chosen to the chooser. Cultural immersion, even for those of us who embody some aspect(s) of outsider status, remains a fact of life. The intriguing question for me is why we like what we like.

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  30. Hey Amber, Guess I'm late to the party, er...conversation. First off, love your pointy-toe red boots. And then, of course the whole ensemble so carefully and lovingly put together. I haven't kept all my "special" clothes by a long shot. I've changed sizes. I've given the best ones away. I still think of them and where I worn them, how they looked, etc. But I don't miss them because I couldn't fit into them anymore. That was then. And over the last few years, I have been saving my stuff whether I fit in them or not, so I can refashion them into whatever I might want to wear now. And that's been very cool. Part of accepting how I look now, aging, discovering bloggers and blogging. Dressing up and all that stuff.

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    1. No time limit, Pat! I appreciate your thoughtful description of your shift toward saving and refashioning. I have been so moved by some of your projects, such as those incorporating items which were your mother's. Your artist's ability to think creatively combined with implementation skills are among the many things which make you incredibly cool!

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  31. It's great to have items for a long time and be able to remember occasions when they were bought or worn. I like particularly having a few things that used to belong to my late mother and incorporating them in my outfits.

    BTW : I finally updated my blog roll and included yours in it :)

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Thank you for your comments!
- Amber