Monday, November 14, 2011

A Girls Fedora..

In 1969 my Dada Bowen
 passed away suddenly of a heart attack.
 He had been the love of my life at 6 years old
 and the loss of him just wrecked me.
I didn't understand why he was gone,
 he just wasn't there to share the recliner with me anymore.
 There were only photographs left of his handsome face,
 his stature & a faint memory of his presence,
  but they couldn't give me the sound of his laugh,
 the way that he felt when he hugged me
 or the smell of his shirts.

Yup, it's me!

 I don't remember how I got it, who gave it to me or why,
but found that I was left with the most amazing gift from him,
 His Fedora.
That hat was him!

 Of course it was huge on me but I insisted on wearing it.
It was a milk chocolatey brown wool fedora,
 with a matching grosgrain ribbon around it.
It was well worn so the brim had flattened out
and it was a wide brim at least 2 1/2 inches.
The crease at the top
eventually disappeared the more I wore it.
It was so big for me that I was always pulling it down
 and the crown eventually took the shape of my head.
I wore it until I was about 21
when my then live in boyfriend ended up with it.
When we split I got the vacuum cleaner & he kept the hat.
 That is right up there as one of the biggest regrets of my life.

I tell you all of this....
because at the very moment I was given that wonderful fedora
 I became addicted
 to the feel of wearing other peoples clothing.
 Not just hand me downs neccessarily,
 but things that had belonged to someone much older than I
 or who was probably not around anymore.
 There was an amazing comfort in that fedora
 and that feeling was recreated for me everytime
 I wore one of my dad's ratty old hoodies to stack wood in,

or when I would swipe my dad's old pajamas

 or just the wearing my dad's gloves
cuz I couldn't find my own.
I just melted under the soft, worn,
over sized feeling of the things.

Because I grew up in Northern New Hampshire
 there were limited places to buy
 what I used to call, "old peoples clothes".
I did manage to find second hand costume jewelry,

old mens vests or shirts at auctions I attended with my mom.
 And before you start asking.....
what's up with all the mens stuff?
 I don't know...
alot of what I liked was mens clothing and I don't know why.

 When I got to college in 1981
I was exposed to the world of
actual second hand clothing shops.
 But the best by far was when I went home to Wolfeboro, NH
 for the weekend with a friend of mine.
 While I was there she brought me to a wonderful place,
 The Arm/Navy Surplus store.

Not ^ Wolfeboro..just a cool sign!

The place was huge,
 like the first floor of an old warehouse or something.
They didn't have just surplus either, 
they had tons of previously worn items that were not military.
I didn't have much money of course,
but I spent every last time dime in that place.
My best purchases were by far
the deep navy blue wool men's pin striped suit jacket
with a soft gray lining that matched the thin pin stripes
 and a WWII green wool army jacket.

This army jacket had 2 pleated breast pockets, epaulets,
and was made obviously to fasten at a man's waist
 but fell some inches below mine.
It had a banded waist
 rather like an old leather motorcycle jacket. 
No zipper, just buttons that were covered
so the front of the jacket had a clean, simple look when closed.
 OMG I was in love.

 I brought them both home to school and wore them constantly!
 The pinstripe jacket with the arms rolled up
 to show the beautiful lining,

 a lace hankie that flopped out of the side breast pocket
 and a couple of old brooch style pins on the lapel.
 I wore it with everything including skirts.

The other became my most prized possession.

I never wore a traditional winter jacket again,
only that army jacket.
It sat perfectly atop my best thread bare levi's,
perfectly matched with my soft brown second hand shit kickers.
I was 5'10" and weighed in at about 120 pounds....
My mother would say..
 "you can wear anything, why do you....yada yada yada!"

I wore it to a concert one night in 1986,
with my now husband and it was stolen off the back of my seat!
 I was angry & sad,
 but it had been well worn & well loved by me
& I hoped that it would receive the same from someone else.

This was and is my love affair with second hand clothing....
I know that now "VINTAGE" is the preferred terminology.
The perfect word or phrase
 can always change your perception of something
and for those who are responsible
 for bringing "vintage" clothing into the mainstream
 I understand the need for this business
to have the sound & feel
of a fine wine that has been perfectly aged.
For my business also, it has become part of the vernacular,
but for me personally they will always be known
 as second hand shops and old people's clothes,
because that is where my comfort lies....
something that has been well worn & well loved by another,
is now passed on to me to do the same!

Yup, me again! oooooooolder, eek

PS-I finally found a fedora that looks almost the same!
Thanks to a wonderful seller on etsy!!
I gotta work on the brim a bit though....LOL!

1 comment:

  1. This is the most amazing story about *Vintage* I've ever read, Wonderful & Charming!!