At least it’s not a dead-squirrel stole


‘On knowing when it’s time to let go’

Now, I haven’t gone so far as to embrace ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’, which, if you caught my post from a couple of weeks ago (“Out with the old year, but not out with the old stuff. Yet.”) you know is this thing where Swedes give away their stuff so that their kids don’t have to go through it after they die. Honest.

But lately I have been going through my clothes and offering what I consider choice items to The Child and her pals. They are, after all, in their mid-twenties, which is how old I was when I acquired, say, those paisley corduroy pants. Or the orange-and-white striped cashmere sweater. Or the fancy black dress shown in these photos:

I’m not what you’d call a Clothes Horse, but if you’ve been a grown woman as long as I have you tend to have a pretty packed closet. When an Event comes up, I don’t go shopping, I just dig around in there and find something that’ll ‘do’.

For a recent rather fancy wedding: dress I wore to Niece Ella’s christening in 2000, jacket I got in London when I was working there in the 90s, plus sunglasses scored on an LA shoot in the 80s

Sort of lazy, I know. And somewhat socially risky. I was at a party once when I was introduced to a woman who said, “Oh, I have met you; I remember that dress.” (Yes, it was That Same Black Dress. Oops. But nevertheless, I’m not ready to give it away. Not just yet.)

Not only does The Dress still fit (don’t get too jealous; Swedes don’t age, they shrivel), it still passes my ‘Does this make me look ridiculous?’ test. (The answer being ‘no’ and the verdict being given by my mirror or a relatively-unbiased relative. See “Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should wear it” for laughs — and details.) And, what’s become even more important in recent years, it still passes my ‘Does this make me look like a Little Old Lady?’ test.

I must pause here to interject that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a Little Old Lady. I’m just not ready to look like one. My actual age? Let’s just say that when I sport anything ‘vintage’ no one realizes I’m being ironic. They just think I’ve owned that alligator bag with the little crossed paws on the front for a very long time.

Me, wearing a vintage 70s pop-art scarf (yes, I still have it) when it was so not vintage. But then again, neither was I

So what are Little Old Lady clothes? Well, take that leopard hat. Please. I’m honestly not sure what possessed me to buy that hat in the first place, since the only person who has ever looked good in it is The Child. When she was five. (See photo at top for proof.)

But yes, I guess I thought that hat was cool. Or rakish or stylish or something. (I do remember wearing it to Ogilvy one day — this would have been, oh, in the Eighties — and a colleague remarking “Nice lid”, so there’s that.) And yes, that hat still fits. But I honest to god look not only ridiculous in it, but like a Little Old Lady.

I’m thinking it’s the Animal-Printedness of it. Stop and ask yourself: Have you ever seen a 25-year-old wearing an Animal Print? I didn’t think so. Not unless she was on her way to a costume party.

I should have known animal prints were the kiss of elderly sartorial death when neither The Child nor any of her friends wanted that snappy pair of zebra-striped cropped pants I tried to hand off. I bet they’re still gathering dust in the Bargain Box donation bin. Unless another Old Lady spotted (er, striped) them.

So icks-nay away-nay on anything that looks like wild game or its skin. Which brings me to the story of the dead-squirrel stole. This story happened long ago — long before I had to worry about being mistaken for a Little Old Lady, or Any Lady At All. I was about seven, and my family was traveling somewhere by train. I’m fuzzy on the details, but we were probably going to my Gramma’s. Not sure why we were on a train; my parents usually just shoved us all into the station wagon. But there we were, and it was a Very Big Deal.

We three kids, at about the age we were on the Train Trip. Adorable lap-sitting Roger front and center

There was a very elegant Little Old (hah, she was probably fifty) Lady on the train who took a shine to my adorable little brother Roger. We knew she was elegant because she was wearing a mink stole — and not just any mink stole, but one of those stoles popular way back when where each little mink was linked to the next, head to tail, head to tail; kind of like they were biting each other.

Roger, having been coaxed onto the Little Old Lady’s lap, looked up at her and asked, “What are you doing with those dead squirrels around your neck?”

So. I rest my case. And donate my animal prints. But I still have issues with hats.

This this hat make my shadow look fat?

New York City. January 2018

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13 thoughts on “At least it’s not a dead-squirrel stole

  1. As someone who is trying to do some purging herself, I am totally going to remember these tips. You didn’t realize these were tips, right? If I love it and it still fits, it stays. If it has eyes, it goes. 🙂

  2. This reminded me that my mother used to have a mink coat with those heads hanging off. How frightening. Who would want that. I’m not sure who she ever gave that one to, but good riddance!

  3. Unbound Roots

    “Swedes don’t age, they shrivel…”? So true! And, your black dress still looks amazing on you! No need to practice The Swedish death cleaning. I love reading your posts – always well written, hilarious, and completely relatable on my end.

    • Why, thank you ever so, Fellow Swede and Amazing Writer! I love it that you can relate (!) Just like I can relate ever so well to your writing. ‘See’ you soon, at either My Place or Yours! xoxoxo

  4. Alice, I love to hear how other women (but especially you) hang on to special clothes and now that I have read what you think of animal prints, I might have to get rid of a couple of things in my wardrobe. Luckily, I don’t have any dead squirrels. I never could figure out what the attraction was of wearing dead mink with their little eyes looking at you.

    • Dear Judy, I bet you can rock an Animal Print (!) So don’t take my words too literally. Glad that you don’t own any dead-mink-trimmed accessories, though. Tough to wear at any age — especially for the ‘squirrels’!

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