From closet to closet

The closet in the upstairs hall is empty now. The mountain of old clothes was warmly received by the woman at the Costume Closet , a place whee people rent outfits for plays and parties. The woman oohed and aahed over my castoffs, before writing Vintage Clothes in Excellent Condition on the receipt. This is what we’ve come to, my clothes and I, though still in excellent condition, we’re now filed under Vintage.

Guess that’s legitimate. Some of those outfits go back more than fifty years. The black velvet sleeveless dress size eight, for instance worn to a Junior League dance in Connecticut. Perfect for a slim waisted high school senior playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Too bad I lost my long cigarette holder. Must admit on the rare occasions when we hired a sitter, I smoked, drank and batted my eyelashes shamelessly. A floor length checked skirt in heavy wool was a present from my young husband who blushed and stammered and wondered if I really liked it. I did indeed, and would wear it today if it didn’t have a ludicrously tiny waist, There’s no Spanks strong enough to close that gap. But it would look great on Meg, Jo or Amy in a production of Little Women.

A favorite outfit was a scarlet crepe dress flounced from neck to hem. In the plunging neckline sat a cabbage rose. I bought it for a Great Gatsby party on Long Island, held at a friend’s shooting club. Come to think of it, Gatsby could have belonged to that shooting club and Daisy Buchanan would look just fine in my dress. But Daisy wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the dusty rose knit suit I wore to board meetings. Earnest ensemble for the Good Wife, before he cheated and she went ballistic..

My husband helped me carry the armfuls of castoffs inside, but gulped when he saw them toted away. A hoarder at heart, he refuses to relinquish his twelve business suits and six pairs of polished oxfords presently gathering dust in his closet. He could outfit the entire male case of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but mention the word “donate” and his face crumples pitifully. He won’t even part with the horrible looking floor length gray and white striped tent thing he bought in Egypt. Worse comes to worse, it would make a great shroud.

To be honest, I too originally planned to keep my old clothes as historical artifacts. I’m still hanging on to a few ancestral outfits a nineteenth century opera cape and a naval uniform from the war of 1812, But times change and my children have small houses and even smaller closets. If they’re curious about past styles, they can check out the family photo albums. Plenty of laughs in there like my husband in his Nehru jacket and me in my see through blouse setting out for a party in the 60s

Now looking at all those empty hangers gives me a good feeling. My once loved finery is out making other people happy. And I still have plenty of slim black pants, ribbed silk turtlenecks and tweed jackets to wear. Hmmm, sounds dull. Maybe I’ll buy something in red satin to jazz up my next vintage contribution.


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