How We Remember

Fall and Football. For many it can be a near religious experience reminiscent of last Friday night’s awe-inspiring matchup between T.C. Williams and West Potomac for the West Po Homecoming. Rivalries are deeply rooted and fan behavior can take on many forms. Many of my classmates from T.C. still live in the area but their kids go to the rival school, creating a house divided.

Before the big game, my friend Kim’s daughter Marley gears up for the game with some custom wear…

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And then the Facebook fallout of being chastised by other friends, Cathy Puskar and Chris Campagna, both diehard Titans, the following day…all in the spirit of competition of course!

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chris_campagna-fbThankfully, Titan Pride swells within my own home. Both of my children attended the big game last Friday night at West Po and cheered the mighty, mighty Titans to an incredible victory, winning in the final minutes, highlighted by a gutsy two-point conversion with less than two minutes remaining in the game. It was all or nothing, proving that’s how Titans roll. Final score: 22-21!

Although I was not at the game itself, the news travelled quickly to Mt. Vernon Avenue where I was having dinner. There were fellow Titans at Kaizen, where we all experienced that same competitive satisfaction of taking down our rivals as if we were sixteen again, relishing in the victory of our team. Knowing my kids were the next generation to cheer the same cheers and sing the same songs made the win even sweeter.

Being a part of Alexandria Stylebook and a homegrown product of our community, I feel a responsibility to weave a little school spirit into this style post. One of the popular themes of closet editing is the trouble with tossing the clothes that stimulate memories. More often than not, there are pieces we own that are out of style and don’t even fit, yet we cannot get rid of them since they trigger a memory that is so dear to us and we want to keep that piece of history alive.

I admit, I have my own little stash of clothing that takes me to some benchmark moments of my past. One in particular has been on my mind for the last six months. It’s amazing that it has made the cut time and time again since I’ve been trying to be more critical in my choices. Perhaps it was spared for just this moment to stitch together my past with my present.

The item I am talking about is a high neck white linen blouse that looks nearly identical to many of the blouses I come across in my quest for style inspirations for clients and as my role as a buyer. There’s a Victorian theme that is very in vogue now. A lot of women often question whether they should participate in some trends since they either wore them before or they feel those pieces start to date them in years. During a recent consultation, I was advising a client who is a few years younger than me on whether or not to incorporate the Victorian blouse into her wardrobe. My initial instinct was to tell her to take a pass on this trend but I could not keep myself from wondering whether I just hadn’t explored exactly how to wear the blouse.

I don’t have a lot of free time but manage to carve out a few minutes every now and then to experiment with my own wardrobe. It was time to uncover my old linen Victorian blouse and see if it could be relevant to my present day style. Ironically, my mother had recently given me some pictures that she came across in storage. There I was wearing the Victorian blouse…June 15, 1984…Graduation Day.

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It all comes rushing back as though it were yesterday. Great friends toasting our accomplishments and the hopes and dreams of our futures. I consider myself very lucky to stay connected to these friends – and not only through Facebook, we’ll run into each other at parties and through our children’s sports schedules. My senior year English teacher was Patrick Welsh. He was indeed that teacher who left a lasting impression on his students; the kind of teacher who inspires a younger generation to seize the day and appreciate the voice they have within themselves.  His past essays in the Washington Post would explore race relations, challenges in public school education, and, often to the dismay of his peers, scrutinize the establishment.

Finding ourselves struggling with many of these same issues, it can seem that we have not progressed in finding solutions. Yet, what I left with that day in 1984 was an overall respect for our differences and how this in itself connects us and formulates our sense of identity. Progress is knowing not to give up on the discussions that explore solutions. In my opinion, the process is far more vital than the outcome. The Victorian era is defined as a period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities, and national self-confidence. I imagine I’ve attached similar traits to my senior year at T.C., which has made it difficult to discard my blouse and all of the lessons, hopes, and dreams I see when I look at it.

This weekend is T.C. Williams’ Homecoming. Some of you may be getting ready to go home for a similar reunion or game day festivities. My kids will be attending the game with their friends, cheering on our beloved Titans. Although I will not be sitting with them (save for a true miracle!), I am going to make it to the game. Which poses the question…what do you wear to your high school homecoming game?

School colors can take the form of many nuances. In lieu of wearing true spirit wear (and there’s nothing wrong with that, btw), how about a little Red, White, and Blue in the form of chambray and velvet!

tc_stylebook_alicia9Chambray shirt by Current Elliot and Velvet Skinnies from M.i.H Boots from Freda Salvador

Then I had to explore the Victorian blouse. Deciding to try and new/old trend can be a little risky. I immediately knew this would be less fussy and completely on-trend with an army green utility jacket, like the one shown here from AMO (available at The Hive).

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The other way to style the Victorian shirt would be to dress it up with a deep-hued velvet pant and a structured jacket, like the one from Veronica Beard in a soft gray.  To break up the neckline and offer some warmth, I added the soft camo scarf from Rag & Bone, giving the blouse an entirely different look while still focusing on the beauty of the intricate embroidery work, which is also very on trend.

There’s no doubt, clothing retains memories for many of us. Deciding if it’s useful can be an entirely separate issue. On reflection, I’m glad I held on to the blouse and took time to explore how my Titan Pride shaped me. This coming weekend, I may or may not choose to go Victorian, but I will get caught up in the spirit of my school and see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Did I mention we were the 1984 State Champions my senior year? Go Titans!

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  • The latest from Alicia

Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.

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