Memory Lane

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 Top: Dorothy Perkinsremixed

Skirt: Ivanka Trump

Tights: Big W

Shoes: Aerosoles

This top is definitely an oldie but a  goodie.

I bought it in 2009, remixed it in 2010, and it’s still in my wardrobe, which is pretty unusual for me as I have a habit of “retiring” items regularly (and then often replacing them with alllllmost identical items further down the track. Idiot.)

I don’t get too nostalgic about my clothing. I’m hyper-aware of the 20/80 rule (apparently we wear twenty percent of our wardrobe eighty percent of the time), and besides I find the more stuffed my closet is, the harder it is for me to find something to wear in the mornings!

As a result there’s probably only a handful of items – like this one – that have survived cull after cull after cull. And usually they’re the items that are meaningful to me for one reason or another.

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This cardigan is the first piece of cashmere that I ever bought myself. I swapped over the boring blue buttons for some sparkly diamante ones, and dubbed it my “Tiffany Cardigan” because it’s an almost perfect Tiffany blue. In 2009 I discovered that my brand-new kitten, Suki, had put a couple of holes in it with her sharp little claws so I “mended” it with the bow appliqué.

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This skirt was given to me by Chitra Mangma of Chitra’s Closet in payment for being a runway model for her Spring/Summer 2010 collection. It was a hilarious experience, and there’s part of me that still doesn’t believe that short, plump, thirty-something year me, was on a runway. I still love the skirt, and wear it regularly, though sadly Chitra closed her doors earlier this year.

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This t-shirt is one of the only souvenirs I still have from the year I spent in London when I was 18. It was from a fabulous bus tour that I took around Scotland. I was kissed by a stranger, guest presented on a radio show, tried whiskey for the first time, walked around the ruins of my ancestors (Clan Mackinnon, represent) and had a Canadian teach me how to pull a Guinness in a bar called The Saucy Mary. It. Was. Awesome.

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This Sohomode dress is important to me for such a number of reasons. Firstly: it was one of the very earliest purchases that I made on Etsy, and it’s easily the one that I’ve worn the most often. I loved it so much I sent my best ladyfriends down the aisle in their own versions as my bridesmaids. More significant is the fact that because of this dress I got to meet the wonderful Louise, who isn’t just an amazing dressmaker but is also one of the most welcoming and generous people of my acquaintance. Meeting her and her family in their beautiful home in New York was one of the few bright sparks from last year and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to count her as a friend.

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This extraordinary dress from Eliza Parker was one of the first “gifted” items I’ve received for the blog, and I remember how blown away I was by the idea that people wanted me to wear their clothes. Jessica Tenaglia – the absolutely lovely designer at the helm at Eliza Parker – gave me this dress in person when I visited San Francisco with my ex in 2010. It’s an amazing colour, and it still gets a lot of airtime. I actually wore it last night to the Melbourne Writer’s Festival Opening Night Party!

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This is definitely the oldest thing in my closet. Actually, it’s even older than I am. My Mum tells me she wore this oversized plaid shirt when she was pregnant with me, and I can’t believe that 36 years later I still wear it myself. It’s soft as soft, and the seams are mended with the dodgy hand-stitching of a teenager who spent too much time with her knees tucked up under the hem. It’s as familiar and comforting as a hug from my Mum, and I always thought it would be beautifully cyclical if I could wear it whilst pregnant with my own child. Hopefully one day.

Check it out – here’s a photo of me wearing it whilst holding my newborn baby brother. He’s twenty-two now. Horrifying.

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How about you? Are there any items in your wardrobe that you’re holding onto for nostalgic reasons?

27 thoughts on “Memory Lane

    • Yeah, I know that feeling. The amount of stuff I gave away last year – not just clothing, but furniture, cookware, linen… then had to re-buy the bulk of it when I came back at the start of the year. My family, and my ex’s family were very generous though, and gave me a lot of pieces so I didn’t have to start completely from scratch, but there’s definitely a few pieces I wish I hadn’t surrendered.

  1. Even though they I haven’t been able to wear them for years (gained weight) I simply cannot give away the jeans and sweater I was wearing when I met my boyfriend. We have been together for over 10 years now, but I still know exactly the very carefully planned outfit I wore for our 1st (blind) date 🙂

  2. I have the very battered leather satchel that my dad used during his own undergrad, the first person in his family to go to university. The strap would probably disintegrate if I put anything too heavy in it, and it’s terribly stained, but I love it.
    I also have a couple of my grandmother’s costumes – she and her niece had a very small-time stage show which they did at the hotel bars and Legion Halls and Lions or Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalo halls through Northumberland County, and it included a Liberace impersonation act. She made all her own costumes, and I still have a couple of the Liberace tail-coats she made out of cheap brocades. They are far too small to fit me and much the worse for wear as they lived through basement dampness in her own house and then my parents, but I still love them and they hang on my own walls in all their stained and tattered glory.

    • Those sound like amazing pieces, Jessica. How wonderful to have such significant items from your family’s history (and incidentally, your grandmother sounds like a RIOT!)

  3. Oh you did a Haggis tour too! I have fond (albeit a bit blurry) memories of that bus trip. I ran out of money half way through and ended up with a job (and later a boyfriend) in one of the little villages on the route. Thanks for posting about your t-shirt 🙂 x

  4. I am ridiculously sentimental about a lot of things and I do have clothes I will never part with, even though I don’t wear them anymore. I have my collection of concert t-shirts (mostly from the 80’s), the dress I was wearing when I met my first true love and the dress I wore, heartbroken, to his funeral just short of 15 years later. I still have my deb dress – delightfully 80’s and still with a bourbon and coke stain down the front!!! As for my everyday wear, I rotate often and I do have ALOT of clothes – but I swear I wear most of them on regular rotation!!

      • Thank you. They were tough times….but I have to tell you there is light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel, I have been lucky enough to meet someone new and get a second chance at love! I will always have those memories and now I have the chance to create a whole lifetime of new memories!

  5. I have a great big collection of vintage and although I don’t know the stories hidden in those dresses, I love to make up scenarios of who had the dress and where it’s been…..
    But that said, I have a plain white t-shirt that I wore when I was giving birth to my children. All these frocks and frocks and shoes and frocks and coats and frocks…..and my most treasured item – an old bonds t-shirt. Life is funny.

    • That’s so sweet, Toni. Have you read The Secret Life of Dresses? It takes the same premise, and it’s a pretty good read 🙂
      YES. I have all the dresses, but if I could only save one thing from a burning wardrobe it would be my Mum’s plaid top. Tragic, but there you go.

  6. I am so sentimental about clothes for the smallest reasons that each wardrobe cull tugs at the heart strings! I have also been known to get rid of things to get rid of the memories associated with them. There are two things I just cannot part with though. Firstly the dress I was wearing when my husband proposed (the Happy Valley dress by Bernie Dexter – significant because he had to drag me out of a nap to get to the beach for the anniversary proposal, and for some reason I actually wore something really nice). Secondly the dress we wore on our first ‘real’ date, that also happened to be the first thing I ever bought that broke the $200 barrier..by Brisbane designer Maiocchi with their signature Japanese fabric buttons.

    • Hi Kat, ah yes! I have this snuggly brown cashmere dress that I wore to my first real “date” with my ex, and I can’t bear to look at it anymore. It’s part of the same reason I had my wedding dress altered. That sentimentality definitely does cut both ways. It’s so cute that you still have the dress you were proposed to in (I couldn’t hold onto mine. It had to go).
      I LOVE Maiocchi, by the way. There’s a few stockists down here & I love their aesthetic.

      • For me getting rid of the clothes with the memories attached is actually very empowering – I hope you’ve found it to be that way too. If you ever make it up to Brisbane, a trip to one of the three Maiocchi boutiques is always delightful, even if just to enjoy the store itself and all the other pretties they have in store to complement the dresses. I think there might be one in Sydney now too…and there’s always the online store. Thanks for this post, it was lovely xx

  7. This spring I made myself get rid of everything I couldn’t actively wear except for the Seoul ’88 Olympic tee shirt I used to wear as a kid (just in case I should have a kid), the uniform from the traveling choir I used to belong to (which is now broken up, but I can’t get rid of it ‘just in case’). I went back and forth on one of my Mom’s old shirts which I wore in college, but I think I ultimately got rid of it and now I’m really wishing I hadn’t. I used to hang on to everything sentimental, but my new space is so tiny I had to be much more ruthless.

    • Yeah, I know the feeling well, Amanda! I moved house so many times last year that I got rid of a huge amount of my clothing – I’ve got a whole wardrobe to myself now though, and I’m rapidly filling it up!
      Hopefully your Mum’s old shirt will show up, but good on you for doing a big clear out.

  8. What a lovely post, Lilli. Thank you for allowing us a sneak peek into your closet! I especially love your Mum’s/your shirt. My daughter (your age, an Editor, living in Melbourne) wears my favourite jeans that I travelled Europe in, during the ’70’s. Makes us both happy! Blessings to you, sweet Lilli.

  9. Throughout a dozen or so moves over nearly 30 years, I’d somehow hung onto my old Canterbury rugby top worn during my HSC year in 1986. White with thin bright coloured stripes and a proper rubber button. I wore it with red fleecie trackie dacks, underneath an over-wide purple jumper, with my green over-dyed Saba jeans, and usually big fake pearl earrings. My blonde bob was usually adorned with various coloured ribbons picking out one of the stripes. Noice. It was very loose in those days, and despite doubling in weight since then it still fit me (albeit snuggly!). But in a fit of generosity, a few months ago I handed it on to a dear friend of 7 yrs, who swims in it but adores the gesture of hand-me-down treasure. And now I kinda really, really, REALLY wish I’d hung onto it. Dammit!

  10. I love the idea of making patchwork quilts out of treasured old clothes – I haven’t got round to that yet, but I have made a rug rag out of some things that were worn out. I really enjoy being able to recognise fabric in it – the duvet and pillowcase set my mum bought me for going away to college, a mustard vest that I loved and wore with everything until I spilled red wine on it and could never get the stain out, a tie-dyed camisole top (good lord, what was I thinking?), etc. etc. Great post! Thanks for sharing your memories and special tems 🙂

  11. I still have my year 10 and year 12 formal dresses, my mum made them. And a beautiful Studibaker Hawke dress from 1988 that I wore to a fancy industry awards night in my first job. It was the first “label” dress I ever bought and it’s incredible. I’m hoping that one day one of my daughters might want to wear it as it’s so old now it’s “retro”!

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