Monday, November 19, 2012

Buttons and bows

Wednesday has been the highlight of my week since the start of the writing course , led by my multi-gifted friend D of 60 Going On 16. Sadly, it  is drawing to a close.  I haven't enjoyed anything so much for a very long time and I hope that there will be more to follow.

One of the things that I've learned is that a simple word or phrase can trigger quite unexpected memories and associations, ideal stimuli for writing. One such exercise involved clothes and accessories; head down and no time to think, we rattled off as many as possible in a limited time. Reading them back, I found that I had marked milestones in my life with an item that I was wearing or had noticed on someone else. Everyone in the group was surprised to discover how significant clothes had been for us.

The bows that I remembered were the ribbons that my mother tied in our hair every day before taking us to school. Every day, my sister would come home with her plaits and ribbons intact and I would have lost one ribbon and my hair would be half plaited and half flying in an untidy mane. My poor mother became so frustrated that she cut my hair!

My earliest recollection was of a pair of buttoned leggings. I could not only visualise them but also recall their texture and the warmth and comfort they gave. I'm wearing them in this picture of my mother, sister and me arriving at the church for the wedding of one of my uncles.
I cannot possibly remember this occasion as it was before my second birthday and yet I have a strong sense of this sage green outfit, of having to sit still while the many buttons at the sides of the leggings  were done up and the black elastic straps wrapped around my shoes. Just over a year later, our baby sister was born and I suppose she inherited the little suit. Perhaps my memory is really of her little legs being buttoned into the leggings!

Are your milestones in life marked by the clothes you were wearing? Do share your stories.

10 comments:

  1. I love the photo of you and your sister in button leggings..and I bet your memory is accurate.
    I was a rather a scruff myself...preferring shorts and t-shirts (that I can vividly picture after reading your post..it prompted my memory into surprising clarity) but I do remember a much loved dress that was a present from my Aunt and Uncle...I can remember gazing up at it as it hung high above my head in the bathroom (waiting to be put on I presume) it had Elephants parading in rows around it and I have a memory of blues and greys on a white background..a very fond memory ..what a nice way to start a very cold day :0) Thank You!

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    1. Val, you obviously enjoyed doing this as much as my group did. I hope you'll think of more memories associated with things you wore. I'd love to hear about them.

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  2. With a dressmaker as a mother, and many of my aunts working in the rag trade, there was always an underlying interest in clothes in our house. I best recall the summer frocks my mum made me - a particular one which was so brightly coloured that a teacher at primary school told me it looked like a jar of sweets. I still think about that frock, and am drawn to fabrics that are reminiscent of its bright hues.

    BTW - the photo is absolutely charming! There's a photo of me with Santa wearing just the same sort of coat and hat, but with zip up not button boots.

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    1. The jar of sweets dress sounds wonderful. I have always loved clothes that might be considered eccentric, especially brightly coloured ones.

      I can't remember having any clothes with zip fasteners until I was in junior school, fiddly buttons were my lot!

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  3. Oh, button leggings, M. I had some too and somewhere in one of the old photo albums is a pic of me in Trafalgar Square in matching Minimode hat, coat and said leggings. Come to think of it we children of the late 1940s/early 1950s were all buttoned up weren't they? Remember liberty bodices? What were they all about?

    Like rus in urbis, I come from a long line - and an extended family - of dressmakers and seamstresses. They passed on to me their fascination with clothes and dressing up was always encouraged!

    So glad you are enjoying the course; I do feel very fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and committed group with whom to work.

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    1. Everything had to match, didn't it? Liberty bodices were a nightmare as were woollen vests - remember those?

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  4. Hello Maureen
    Thanks for droping in and for your comment - I'll be sure to let you all know what finally happens to the Lavender. With 'luck' it will grow again - without, well thats life isn't it lol
    Not too many memories as far as clothing is concerned - although I do remember a skirt I pleaded with my Mother to get me as a birthday present some time in the '50s. It was grey and circular in some sort of soft suedy type material that swayed and moved under a sugar water stiffened petticoat when I (all of about 15) twirled on the dance floor at the local youth club.
    I can see it now in the shop window and hear me saying "please Mum thats all I would want" - not that I would get more than one gift anyway lol
    Take care
    Cathy

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  5. Oh the 50s, Cathy, when we were all so young and slender and could carry off those swirling skirts!

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  6. Excuse me litle sister but you inherited those leggings from me. The wedding was of Uncle Tom and Auntie Nellie at St. Josephs in 1947.
    Am keeping an eye on John's computer about any revelations you are coming up with - take care. Guess who?

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    1. Thank you, Kay. I knew about the year and the wedding but not that the coat and leggings were yours first. Now I'm wondering if I ever had anything of my own!

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