Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does clothing carry memories?

Hi all,

I just read a great piece in the New York Times Magazine called Dress to Regress: A Photographer's Fashion Flashbacks. It focuses on "My Mother's Clothes," a book of photo and essays a daughter put together in honor of her late mother, who passed of Alzheimer's. Originally, the daughter compiled the photos to help her mom's memory loss -- surprisingly, even though she was having trouble recalling family members, she could remember very specific details about the garments and occasions surrounding them. How neat is that?

Though my mom was not nearly the elegant, Jackie 0 fashionista the mom in this book was (no offense, Sally), she did certainly love shopping. Always on the hunt for a good bargain, she frequented Marshall's and The Gap. We really enjoyed mother-daughter shopping trips together, either after school or on the weekends, and often purchased the same items. I used to tease her as a teen that she bought everything I bought, just a few sizes bigger. At 5'1 and 104 pounds, she was so petite she could fit in the junior's section!

Cleaning out Sally's closet was a trip down memory lane. My dad and I tackled it shortly after she passed, probably knowing that if we didn't do it right away, it might sit frozen in time forever. There was also something healing about giving away her clothing to charity. Sometimes I think back and worry, "Should I have taken more things? Will I wish I had them one day?" Then I tell myself that it was better to give them to people in need, that they would have just sat in my closet taking up space. I did save her jewelry and scarves, and other random things like socks (I love socks, it's true!), and those are special to me.

Did you keep any clothing of someone who passed? Can you think back to a garment that person wore and remember them in a stronger way?


  1. I haven't been in that position, but your story reminded me of Eric Johanni. I interviewed him for my blog and he basically re-made his mother's clothes into pillows. It's both a truly hard process to break apart clothing, but in a way it's also cathartic to re-make it into something new :)

    The little post about him is on: :)

  2. I had bought my mom a lavender kimono when I lived in Japan, and when she passed I kept it. Lavender was her fav color. It sits in my closet these days but when I see it it reminds me of the day she received it and she took a picture of herself wearing it and sent it to me :) Other than that, most of her clothing were donated.