What We Wore: The Podcast that Helped Explain My Love of Clothing

I have always loved clothes. Not necessarily fashion, but clothes. My mom has told me that I used to sleep with purses and shoes under my pillow when I was a child. I guess it was a sign of things to come.

I have talked about my southern grandmother before and how I think her influence is where I inherited this love of getting dressed. From her perspective, how you presented yourself mattered, and well, I don’t think she is wrong. Yes, she would be appalled that I walk around in exercise clothes. Horrified, actually. I don’t want to say appearance was everything to her, but having the appropriate attire was important. To her, it showed something about a person’s constitution, and the authority they wished to claim for themselves. A career educator, she often linked the demise of discipline in schools to the drift toward casual attire for teachers – that’s a digression but it helps me paint a picture of how central this was for her.

I was at my daughter’s 7th grade play in November and at her school they ask that everyone dress up for the theater. At the outset of the performance, the principal thanked everyone for dressing appropriately. Yes, this is just a 7th grade play in a school theater on a random Friday night, but the kids had put tons of time and energy into Shakespeare and to him, dressing up showed respect for their accomplishment. He went on to say, “if the little things don’t matter (like dressing up for the theater) then how do the big things matter?” It made so much sense to me, and my grandmother would have agreed.

The podcast “What We Wore” reminds me of how clothing and what we wear tells a story and helps create the memory. Just like Grandma Butcher and my daughter’s principal said.

It made me realize that most of my memories of big events in life I can remember through the hook of what I wore. You might now be concluding that I am the most shallow human ever, but it is true that this is my mental tool. As a child, I can remember going shopping with my grandmother or mom and picking outfits for specific events. Like the first day of school, I would spend hours figuring out what to wear. In Ohio it was typically blazing hot still in early September, but I would roll into school in corduroy Bermuda shorts or culottes and a new sweater. Graduations, parties, dances, and everything in between. If you asked me about it, I cannot tell you about all that happened, but I can tell you what I wore. If clothes are that central to memories, then doesn’t it make sense that they are that vital to the impressions we make on others? I think so.

The host of this podcast, Laura Vinroot Poole, owns what I would consider the greatest independent boutiques in the country, Capitol in Charlotte and now Los Angeles. Her guests include fashion editors, designers, and fashion lovers.

My favorite part is at the end they always ask the guests what they wore to their prom. In that spirit, here are a few of my past fashion choices for big events – feel free to have a good laugh.

 

I remember this outfit and having this photo taken. My parents were in Europe and we stayed with my Grandmother Butcher and she had this photo taken while we were there. 

 

How I loved this skirt and yes I would wear it today. I would also wear my brother’s sport coat.

 

Prom 1990! Yes, that is my sister and yes I took curling my bangs seriously. I remember loving that dress and I so wish I still owned it.

 

Clearly I had a theme at dances to curl my bangs and take a photo with my sister.

 

This is outside my grandmother’s country club when I was in college. I remember thinking this was the most grown-up dress I had ever owned. But I mean, did Grandmother Butcher know how to dress or what!

 

I mean, clearly we had a uniform at Ohio University that consisted of high waisted shorts, braided belts, hiking boots and of course slouchy socks. It must have been muddy or we all would have been wearing Birkenstocks.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Becky Sullivan says:

    I am also a Southern Ohio girl (Cincy). Sister went to OU. I too remember all my special outfits. The Bobby Brooks corduroy pantsuit I wore to the high school homecoming football game, the Betsey Johnson skirt I got at a cool shop in downtown Cincy (I used to ride the bus from Loveland down there to shop with a grilfriend), the faux fur vest I wore with a plaid skirt in a 5 year photo. Also had a classy Grandma who worked at JL Hudson in downtown Detroit and always dressed to the nines. Clothes make us happy! Great column.

  2. One of the best articles I’ve read. Thanks for the fun and the memories!

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