Amelia carefully pushed the hanging clothes from once side of her mother’s closet to the other, stopping at each garment to consider if it matched the vision she had in her head. Since she was a child, she loved trying on her mother’s clothes and makeup. She even had a picture of herself with a face full of blue eyeshadow and red lipstick donning a green silk dress that was many sizes too big for her. In the photograph, her mother looks on quizzically, eyeing her childlike fashion sense However, this time she wasn’t playing dress up and her search through the closet in vain was for a school assignment. Amelia sighed in frustration until she heard her mother, Paula, come in.
“Trying to steal my clothes again I see.”
She was caught red handed, and her face started to flush with nervousness, “Sorry, Mom. I have a project due in a couple days for school.”
“Well it wouldn’t be the first time. What’s the project?”
“We have to create an outfit out of an old piece of clothing. Has to be before 2000. I figured I could find something in here.”
Paula smiled and her beauty radiated from within her. She had bright blue eyes that contrasted strikingly to her jet black hair that, though starting to grey, was as healthy and vibrant as it was in her youth. Amelia’s friends always told her that she looked exactly like her mom, some even joked that they could be sisters, and for that she felt blessed.
“You know I don’t mind, though it would have been nice if you had asked first.”
“I know, I know. Sorry, I just get too excited sometimes.”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’m just messing with you. Need help finding something?”
Amelia thought about how often clothes go in and out of fashion as they carefully looked through the relics of a bygone era. In reality though, most of the items were pieces people would still consider stylish today. Trends are a never ending pendulum swinging. What might be considered tacky or overbearing to one generation will be renewed by the next. Only the most egregious offenders ever truly go out of style, and even then, the more creative individuals among us can always find new life for them.
“Where did you wear this?” Amelia asked her mother as she pulled out a pair of baggy green cargo pants.
Paula laughed, remembering, “I think I would wear that to the skate park a lot…I was a bit of a tomboy then. I was always skateboarding.”
Amelia squinted my eyes at her, “Really?”
Her mom’s style now consisted mainly of pastel colors and floral prints; she had gone all the way to the other side of the spectrum from the clothes she favored in her youth.
“I know you wouldn’t be able to tell now,” she gestured to her outfit, “but believe me it’s true! I used to wear that with a pair of combat boots I got at the thrift store. I was really into the grunge look.”
It was hard to believe, but Amelia tried her best to picture her mother in that way. Hazy childhood memories of her listening to Nirvana and Green Day CDs as she drove Amelia to school came back to her. She had ended up loving those bands just as much as her mother in her own teenage years. While she thought she was rebelling from her mom and going on her own path, maybe they had been more similar than she had presumed this whole time.
“What about these?” Paula pulled out a pair of light blue overalls.
Amelia looked over them pensively and tried to determine if she could use them.
“Yes! That’s perfect, thank you!” She exclaimed, the light bulb moment finally coming to her. She pulled her mom into a tight squeeze. Paula beamed, reveling in the excitement alongside her.
“Thanks mom, I gotta go!” Amelia grabbed the overalls and raced to her room. She sat down at her desk and faced her sewing machine; she was ready to get to work. She sewed, cut, and made stitches until she was satisfied with the final result.
After days spent at her desk, only stopping to eat meals and use the bathroom, Amelia finally had a finished product. She held it up proudly, gazing at the new creation. It was now an overall dress with a frilled skirt at the bottom and embroidered flower designs on the right side. She even added discreet pockets.
She created a completely new piece, and yet it was still worn by her mother dozens of times. She imagined the places she had gone out to, the people she hung out with and as she put on the dress she felt all the more connection to the person sitting right next to her. Amelia loved fashion because to her it was more than just clothes, more than just a necessity. Every piece of fabric and garment is put together with an idea in mind. And people wear these ideas to show the world a part of themselves. The clothes we wear always tell a story, if you’re willing to read it.
Feeling accomplished and well deserving of a break, she looked through her closet for pajamas so she could get cozy in bed. Before she found them though, she looked for the picture of her wearing her mother’s dress. Soon, she found it and began picturing having children of her own one day, and she started to wonder what they would say looking at her wardrobe. Would they scoff and make fun, or would they take the time to appreciate the past for what it was? Often, Amelia found herself fearing the future, letting her anxieties and fears get the best of her. For her, it was comforting to look back at the past, maybe because so much had changed in the past few years. Slowly but surely, she was becoming an adult. At 23, she had her whole life ahead of her and while some would find this exciting, instead this idea filled her with apprehension. The unknown was a concept she wasn’t ready to face. Instead, she would much rather stay in her closet looking at all the old clothes she no longer wore, thinking of ways to give them new life. At least for now that is. She had plenty of time to come to terms with growing up.