‘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’.
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.
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.
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.
New York City. January 2018