Nothing to Wear? – Love Loss and What I Wore

Wendy Crewson at the 2006 Toronto Internationa...

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Love Loss and What I Wore”Playing at The Panasonic Theatre. Yonge Street Toronto AND concurrently at The Westside Theatre in New York

Written by Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally; Sleepless in Seattle ; You’ve got Mail and more recently Julie and Julia) and Delia Ephron (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and You’ve Got Mail),

Operating with a revolving cast, the performers for the current show are
Margot Kidder (“Away from Her”; “Eight Below etc”.); Lauren Collins (Only 23 but a veteran of 8 season television series “Degrassi” and film – Take the Lead” with Antonia Banderas. And a couple of other Canadian actresses that I didn’t recognize namely Linda Kash and Cynthia Dale.
Presented as “an intimate collection of stories” revolving around the central theme of clothing; each actress plays a variety of characters giving anecdotal snippets about the items of clothing that were pivotal in their lives, at key (love; loss etc) moments.
The exception is that Margot Kidder plays just one character and her theme runs as a continuous thread throughout a patchwork of stories and anecdotes from the other four performers; with all of them providing embellishment through collective observations about specific items – bras, boots etc.
From the groans and cheers in the audience (there wasn’t a man in sight), I imagine that all of us found some part of the script that resonated with our own personal sartorial experiences.
And of course it got me thinking about my own relationship with clothing and elements of my wardrobe through the years that still leap to mind when something associated with the wearing of it/them – maybe a smell, some music or a verbal expression – sparks my synapses.
My penchant for clothes started subconsciously at the age of two as my paternal Grandparents in the UK used to send me the most adorable “grown-up” suits and hats. Memories of these suits are not my own; they’ve been implanted through film and photos (my Father was an ardent amateur photographer and took eons photos and filmed my every step up until just before he died when I was about nine).
Shame that nothing fancy really suited a very pudgy little girl with little balloon animal arms and pointed “Edna Everage” glasses.
My Mother was a dab-hand with the sewing machine and made ALL my clothes.Depending upon the season, all my clothes were produced using the same pattern; only the fabric and colour varied and there was invariably a fabric/ricrac edging embellishment detail on all of them.
My first shop-bought party frock at about age 3 was a froth of wispy muslin, puff sleeves, a petticoat and a huge embroidered flower across the chest. Then followed another home-tailored concoction for my sixth birthday party; made out of teal blue brocade with lace edged white Peter Pan collar and cuffs. This dress kinda grew with me as my Mum inserted an extra band of the same fabric in the waistband. My Mum was onto something here and I believe the dress in question was “altered” several times to accommodate my passage into a “tween”. If it hadn’t simply disintegrated, it probably would’ve still fit me today!
This was followed by THE A-line bell sleeved dress which came on board at around the age of 10. Serviceable material for everyday wear and for parties in extra special fabric and with piping. Party invites were received with dread and excitement. Just before any given party. My Mum would tell me that there was a surprise laying on my studio couch bed (I did have the best and coolest bedroom around). My heart would fall, the vague and tiny seed of hope that this time I’d be invited to choose a dress from A SHOP, dashed.
The school cruise at aged 12 was the turning point. I think Mum wanted to me to have as nice a wardrobe as the other girls and after that no more home-made outfits.
First teen outfit – Xmas 1970 – a “wetlook” aubergine (eggplant) short raincoat with matching black patent boots, gloves and a Mary Quant hat – Carnaby Street eat your heart out. Looking back the whole outfit was a tadge pervy for a 13-year-old but hey in my mind I rocked.
At 15 for my Mum’s wedding to my stepfather my Mother allowed me to “commission” a dress from a dress designer in the town. Heady with excitement I gave the dressmaker my requirements and chose a material. Sadly I had not briefed her well; it was like the expression about a badly performed piece of music “all the right notes just not in the right order”. The dress was great, for a 70 year-old. Anyhow the occasion of my Mother’s wedding by now warranted something a little more in keeping with my teenage hormonal levels and mood swings so on the spur of the moment I bought a black shirt-dress and in the end I don’t think I actually went to the wedding at all.
With the introduction of “the clothing allowance” and the money I brought in from my part-time job came control over my own clothing destiny and God did I waste some money. During this Osmond/David Cassidy era, came the smocks and loons (skin-tight hipster jeans). My first smock top had a very loud Union Jack pattern on it and came from Etam. Teamed with “Trevira” turn-ups and white platform clogs I got my first “out with the girls” wolf-whistle.
And let’s not forget the whole excruciating bra-thing – I was still 16 and the only one in the class wearing a vest. My Mum with great reluctance took me to our only department store whereupon I was fitted (loose definition of the word) with a floral print 28A cup Berlei training bra, which still needed stuffing with cotton wool (as you do).
Moving quickly into the fashion wasteland of my early 20’s during which – in my defence – I mostly wore a uniform as I worked at Heathrow airport. Also as a newly jilted woman I comfort-ate for Britain . I seem to remember that I also shopped for Britain during that time also, probably to quell the weirdness of living in London and away from home. Fat as I was, I had a penchant for designer suits by Planet. Jaegar etc. – WHY? I wore a bloody uniform, I just looked like my Mum’s friends in this sort of stuff.
I was too busy spending all my money on travel so existed and so for 2 years my “professional” uniform consisted of 2 pencil skirts, a couple of blouses and a particularly remarkable striped jumper. So remarkable that it caused an instructor during a “posh” Recruitment and Interview etiquette seminar to use me as an example of what someone with my body type shouldn’t wear to an interview!!type to an interview!!
Meeting my husband was the making of me; I moved into the “fun” and classy world of the “ra-ra” skirt, flesh or neon coloured shiny leggings, leg warmers, teeny tiny shorts and shoulder pads.
Oh yes, those shoulder pads: I had a shoulder-pad wardrobe – a pair for every occasion. I even inserted them into jumpers and Tees.
I remember doing a huge presentation to a group of employees and noticing midway through that I had 2 shoulder pads on one shoulder and nothing on the other. I think this might have been the same week, that the little metal heel embellishment on my suede 4” court shoes (pumps) got caught in my tights and I had to remain with one foot balletically crossed in front of the other for the entire presentation, remaining in situ until the audience had departed praying that no-one called me over.
This late 80’s era was topped off with a haircut “by George of Hayes”- you know the joke. A guy goes into a hairdresser and asks to have his hair cut like Rod Stewart. The guy nods and gets to work with the old number 3 razor and shaves off all the guy’s hair. The guy says, “Rod Stewart doesn’t have a hair-cut like this” and the hairdresser says “he would if he came here”. That’s sort of what George did to me each time. Whoever I asked my haircut to emulate that of a particular “celebrity” I always came out of the “salon” looking like a footballer with George’s version of the mullet cut.
Then came the power wardrobe for my 18 year financial career, followed by the Interior Designer “bohemian meets arty creative type” period, closely followed by my television presenting/designing era where I emanated a “come hither” look as “tart meets Dolly Parton (minus the boobs). At one point I seemed unable to differentiate between work and play and spent my entire life in leather pants and sparkly shirts/jackets and boots. Not a good look when you are the Interior Design Co-ordinator for B&Q or when visiting your 6 year old’s school in the middle of a wholesome “knit-your-own-muesli – area of Oxford . I certainly stood out and not in a good way.
And blimey, the realization has just hit me I never had a particular style – and still don’t. My fashion choices were defined initially by my Mother, the era, the events I needed to dress for and for my various careers. You only have to see me now to see how true this is. I have the consummate clothing identity crises. A walk-in wardrobe packed with clothes and shoes and absolutely nothing to wear!!!!!!!!!!!
Over and Out

3 thoughts on “Nothing to Wear? – Love Loss and What I Wore

  1. LOL me and you both chick, Im still finding my way with fashion who gives a fxxk as long as you feel good thats what I say Love Ya p.s. remember the trouser suit purple lime green and peacock blue and pick I wore wish I still had it LOL xxxx

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