I am not one. My mother was one and was always sewing. She wore out three or four sewing machines in my lifetime. It was her passion, along with cooking. She usually made outfits for everyday wear, but could certainly sew anything on which she decided. She loved to sew pant suits to wear. She made them for both of us. She would make dresses for the two of us out of the same fabric. She taught me how to sew. When I got to be a teen, all I wanted was jeans and tee shirts, so she let me wear that. But, whenever she could, she would sew up a dress and put me in it!
She loved to dress up. She always wore her beautiful brown hair short and curled. She didn’t wear makeup, except lipstick. Her olive complexion allowed her to wear an outrageously bright shade of orange lipstick. So she did! Orange was her favorite color anyway.
I asked her why orange one time and she just said she didn’t know why, it just was. In May, after we buried her in April, I found one pair of orange sneakers at the store. Just the cheap lace ups I always used to wear. Only one pair in orange and they were my size. I bought them and wore them all summer. I know why orange was her favorite color now.
I always take off work on my birthday. A few years ago, I was off and prowling around resale shops. I found a McCall’s magazine with Natalie Wood on the cover. She was wearing orange with an orange backdrop. The issue was July 1965. The month and year I was born. Needless to say, the magazine now hangs in a frame on the wall. It was a “birthday card” from my mother. Yes, I call it supernatural and not coincidence. It was her reaching out to touch me.
But, about fashion, she may be why I struggle so with what to wear. My friends may not think so. They always love my outfits. They get tickled at me because most of my clothes come from Goodwill or a cheap consignment store or a church resale shop near my home. I avoid having to pay full price for anything. I do buy all my shoes and undies new and spend good money for them. I try to have a coupon or find something on sale.
When I was little, double knit was the wonder fabric. My mother loved it. No ironing, easy to sew, easy to fit. Every color, pattern, texture. If I could find it in any real selection of colors and textures, I would probably buy up a big pile and try to sew my own clothes, too.
But, the reasons my mother caused me problems clothes shopping are these: she often shopped from the catalogs. You remember when three certain stores sent two inch thick catalogs in the mail twice a year and a few smaller ones seasonally? She could find something she liked for each one of us and buy one in every color. We only went to the store to shop when I needed a new coat or some shoes. I didn’t have any experience shopping for clothes off the rack. I had to make myself learn some skills. I prefer the resale type shops, though. If I find something there, it is one of a kind on the rack. If I find myself at a retail store looking at things, I want to buy one of every color! In fact, I did that a couple of years ago buying tee shirts. I bought a half dozen at once. Thank goodness they were only five bucks each!
Another obstacle she inadvertently created was by the following comment: “We can make this cheaper than that price.” And she could. She could get a pattern and fabric and notions and in two or three hours have a new outfit of better quality and fit at half the cost or less. I cannot do that. I can sew. I can sew well. But, it creates anxiety for me. I don’t get the outfit completed. These days, the pattern, fabric and notions far exceed the price of most ready made things anyway. If I am not going to enjoy the process, why should I try to do it? One of those “should want tos” I have had to overcome.
But, I do love to dress up, too. My work place has limitations on what I can wear. I don’t have to wear a uniform, but there is a very strict dress code. That leaves the evenings and weekends. My activities require rugged outdoor wear for fishing, hunting, cattle handling and such. Not much room for glamour. I have a closet full of clothes that I don’t get to wear very often. I kept trying to make myself get rid of them. I don’t think I will, though. Rather, I will wear them anyway. Who says I can’t slip into a favorite dress to sit on the porch and write or go to the kitchen to stir up supper? The one I am wearing now walked me along Waikiki and the streets of Honolulu.
Mother implied through example and dressing me that one should complement ones fellow man by looking as well turned out as possible. There have been many times I failed on this task. I intend to keep trying. I passed some of this on to my daughter. We have a common thought about a commercial on television. The young woman is upset because the wind blows up her skirt on wash day or something and she isn’t wearing cute undies. Pam and I said to each other: if you always own and wear only cute undies, there is never an issue! So Mother, I guess I did okay with her. Even though she wouldn’t wear the little pile of summer dresses you made for her second birthday, she wears the cutest outfits all the time now and she loves to sew! I would rather you had been here all these years helping me raise her and her brother. But, I know you reach out to me often and show me things I need to know. Even when I don’t know it is you showing me.
From the back porch, where every day is Mother’s Day,