YAM magazine Sep/Oct 2014 - page 8

n important piece of advice I’ve received from stylists is
to go through my closet annually and get rid of items I
haven’t worn during the past year. This “closet edit” clears
the clutter and makes room for new pieces to update my
look. I’ve always been pretty good about maintaining this
closet rule — except when it came to things I’ve inherited:
vintage pieces that, while beautiful, just didn’t seem to sync
with my own style. So last fall, I decided to haul all
of my inherited clothing, jewelry and accessories out of my bureaus, trunks and closet
and try them all on. The rule? I would only allow myself to keep these items if I actually
wore them over the course of the year.
The experiment yielded some unexpected insights that made me really think about
the meaning of what we wear. For instance, from my husband’s grandmother, I inherited
some good-quality costume jewelry from the ’40, ’50s and ’60s. Much of it is far glitzier
than what I would typically wear, but I decided to give it a go. After wearing several pairs
of Tani’s clip-on earrings for a week, I decided the torque of them was just too cruel to
my poor earlobes. But the glam bracelets and the faux
gemstone rings she had once worn on stage during
her acting days suited me just fine. These are pieces
that demand adventure and I swear that when I wear
her strings of beads, rhinestone bracelets or big rings,
life always feels a bit more dramatic and something
wonderful always comes my way.
Lesson: Give yourself
permission to shine.
In contrast to my husband’s theatrical
grandmother, my own grandmother lived the life
of a country homemaker: raising three boys, baking
bread, slaving in her massive garden and doing
endless housework. One day she gave me a delicate
necklace of multi-coloured glass, which her father
had given her for graduation. I’d never seen her wear this necklace, mostly because she
never-ever wore her “good things.” Instead, she tucked them away in her cedar trunk,
a magical place filled with silk robes, jade, perfumes and jewelry — all gifts she kept
hidden and never wore. I sometimes wonder if it was pure pragmatism that kept her
from wearing that beautiful necklace, or if she just didn’t feel worthy of it. I’ve worn
it on a few special occasions, and when I do, I think of what a truly unpretentious
and kind person she was — and I wish that I’d seen her wear her necklace, just once.
Lesson: Believe you are worthy of your gifts.
From my mother, I inherited a love of shoes, and when she passed away I kept several
beautiful pairs. Perhaps it sounds strange, but I actually liked wearing them because it
felt a bit like she still walked with me, with her perfect posture and indomitable sense of
optimism. But I discovered a downside to wearing her shoes when my lower back began
to ache; it seemed I was unconsciously changing my walk to suit the shape of her shoes,
which had been moulded to her feet not mine. No matter howmuch I loved her shoes, they
didn’t belong on my feet — and I didn’t need to wear her shoes to have her walk with me.
Lesson: Be inspired by the style of others, but don’t try to fit into someone else’s mould.
During my year of experimentation, I “test drove” many other inherited items —
from vintage scarves and gloves (women back then had such tiny fingers!) to brooches,
shawls and purses. What started out as a closet-clearing adventure turned into a bit of an
odyssey, during which I gained a deeper understanding of myself and the women who
had passed these pieces on to me.
— Kerry
By Kerry Slavens
E-mail me at kslavens
YAM is on Facebook and tweets
Give yourself
to shine.
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