Blog, Finding Happy, Memoir, The Nineties, Writing

Prêt-à-Porter…Again & Again

sundress

So, I’ve been ill the past few days, and in order to subsist I’ve been trying to wear something that allows for comfort. It has really got me thinking about some of my favorite articles of clothing that I’ve owned over the years.

And lying here, has of course given me a chance to think, in depth. When I first got dressed after becoming sick my thoughts went straight to a pair of Old Navy cropped sweatpants that I owned about a decade ago.

I really wish that I had those right now because I would surely be wearing them! They were light blue with a wide waistband and drawstring, so comfy.

I wore those pants until they were no longer fit to be seen in public, and thus relegated to the paint clothes pile. By that point there were holes in the knees and the waistband was completely ragged.

Oh how I loved them.

So then that got me thinking about my navy blue hoodie from Roots (a Canadian clothing store for those who’ve never heard of it). I bought it before moving to the US, so in the late 90s. I remember that I got it on sale and I was super happy.

After I’d been living here for a couple years I was wearing it at our younger sons t-ball game when one of the other moms who I was just starting to be friends with came over to me and said,

“Hey, that’s a Roots hoodie?”

I looked up completely surprised and said, “Yes it is, but how did you even know about Roots?”

“Didn’t they design all of the US Olympic Team outfits for Salt Lake City?”, she asked.

“They sure did, “I replied. That’s when I learned that she was from Oregon, much closer to Canada, and she knew a bit about things like that. She was the first American that I had met who knew of Roots. I was impressed.

The hoodie has long since been discarded in tatters. To this day I always check their website in case they ever bring them back – the material was thinner than their typical, more well-known fleece-wear lines.


Our favorite clothing really plays small but important roles in our lives sometimes. It can give us confidence or simply comfort us.

The memories that we tend to associate with a piece of clothing or an entire outfit is a really good visual when we’re remembering certain times in our lives. I joke often about how I can remember exactly what I was wearing at certain events in my life. And I really can remember them quite clearly sometimes.

For instance one of the first times that the man who would become my husband had sat down to lunch with us in the SUB cafeteria, on what must have been November 30th, he pointed out that I had obviously dressed for the holiday.

Back before cell phones and the Internet I most likely barely knew what day of the week it was, let alone what lesser-known Scottish holiday it was. I think we both knew that I just happened to be wearing my very favorite short, plaid skirt on St Andrews Day. It was a Black Watch plaid.

It makes me smile. And I will never forget that moment.


 IMG_8228

I remember walking into a store in one of the city shopping malls and finding “the dress” to end all dresses. It was one of those moments that in a movie a stream of light would have come down from the ceiling (seemingly heaven sent) illuminating the dress while a chorus of “ahhhhhs” played in the background.

It was also a dark blue, but it was covered with tiny different colored flowers. Everything about it was perfect, from the cut to the length to the fabric. I was in love.

I bought it on the spot and it became my go to outfit for everything from dress casual to a wedding in Bermuda to a work party. Then that fateful day arrived; against my better judgment I agreed to lend it to the girlfriend of a friend.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when speaking to the saleslady who hadn’t wanted to help her… Big mistake. Big. Huge.

I never saw my beloved dress again. I still mourn the loss of that dress, and I’ve looked for a similar replacement frequently over the last 20 years.

To no avail.


Then there was the cream colored mock-cowl neck Esprit de Corps shirt that I picked up for a steal. I was so excited; it was the epitome of comfort and style. At least, I thought so.

I think when you have a really comfortable shirt that you can feel good in and be happy to be photographed wearing it, then you’ve got yourself something special. In fact I see now that I’m wearing it in an inordinately large number of photos from that time period.

But of course we parted ways when I left it at a friend’s apartment and somehow I would never see it again. I’m sure she tossed it at some point; at least I hope she didn’t drag it around for too long.

It’s one for the memory books though.

Similarly I once purchased what I thought we’re really fancy palazzo pants from a semi-chic clothing store right in the city. They were black, shiny material probably synthetic, but I adored them.

I remember wearing them on New Year’s Eve, and feeling like a million bucks. Whenever I wore them I felt like a proper adult, so fancy and grown up. Ha ha.

I kept those pants for years. They were probably the fanciest thing I owned at the time. Well at least the shimmer-iest.


 7

When I found myself at the point in my life where I was the girl who needed to purchase a wedding dress, once again I wanted something that was beautiful and comfortable and unique. What I had in mind seemed to not be the quintessential choice of my contemporaries.

It was beginning to be pointed out to me that my dress might not even exist. And where I was living at the time, I didn’t know a seamstress. I also didn’t even know where I would find the pattern for what was in my head, if I had.

Then one day I walked into a little dress shop that sold several designs from a burgeoning Canadian designer. I had bought one of her dresses back when I lived in the city and I really loved the style.

There that day in this little tiny shop, very far away from the original, much larger place that I had purchased her dresses at, I walked right up to a rack where a beautiful white dress was hanging. To my shock and amazement it looked nearly exactly how I had been picturing My Dress.

My mind was trying to make sense of this find, for this was not a store where I had expected to find it. I reached for the tag, all of her dresses had names, and this one, I kid you not, was called “The Wedding Dress“.

It wasn’t a big, fluffy, fancy or flouncy, archetypal big-day dress. But it was the dress that I had been imagining! And it was on sale…


Three outfits come to mind when I think back to early childhood. The oldest memory is that of a long dress given to me by my grandfather, but surely he hadn’t picked out. It was a lovely polyester material, but that meant nothing to me. Nothing.

It was the most beautiful dress that I’d ever seen. I was four.

I felt like a princess.

us dresses

Then a few years later, ages six through eight I’m guessing, I was head-over-heels in love with two sundresses. One was plaid and one was cream colored with a thick peach-colored strip about three quarters of the way down.

I believe I loved them equally. I know I prized them both.

I cannot think of wearing anything else that I was so completely, exquisitely at ease in. Of course, I was 6, 7 and 8…oh to be young again.


That’s my walk down Clothing Memory Lane folks. Just a few of my favorite things. Good memories. Real good ones.

Raina K Morton     April 28 2015

6 thoughts on “Prêt-à-Porter…Again & Again”

  1. I enjoyed your reflections on your clothing! I’ve always wanted to find a framework to discuss, in brief detail, many of the illustrious garments hanging in my closet! Sadly, I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and, inevitably, some of the older, most experienced pieces, are now gone! But I have a closet full of worthy, storied things that, incidentally, mean a lot to me. Thanks for the reflection and inspiration, Raina. Also, that is indeed a splendid and magical wedding dress! I love everything about it, especially how it found its way to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Becky!!! I have a very strong feeling that I would love to hear those stories of your favorite memories/items! I can only imagine how many wonderful tales you could tell! 🙂

      Like

  2. Your words took me down clothing memory lane! Much of it thinking fondly of how every spring I would be blessed with at least one new dress. One sewn by my mum, pattern and fabric chosen together in my older years, often to be worn in one of many music festival performances!! I remember all those dresses and there were many!! Fabrics from many made in my early childhood now make the patchwork of my Grandmothers fan quilt.
    Thanks for the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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