My mom had the coolest wardrobe in the '60s and '70s. Every photo I've seen of her back in the day looks like it came out of a magazine. Some of the stuff she sewed herself after taking a home economics course, but most of her clothes were store-bought pieces that just don't exist anymore. They say that everything old is new again, and if that's so, then why can't I find anything like the wardrobe she once had?
For a long time I've chastised my mom for not keeping more of her old clothes. After seeing a photo of her in a leisure suit and espadrilles while vacationing in the south of France, I thought "that outfit is unlike anything I've ever seen, how cool would it be to wear it today!" I thought I'd be reinventing not only myself, but my entire sense of style if I whipped out what would now be a one-of-a-kind look. Mom claims she didn't think in a million years that something she owned when she was my age would be on my wish list. How wrong she was. Of the photos I've seen, the items I continue to lust after from mom's former closets are: Lothar leisure suits and Ton Sur Ton get-ups.
I'm not opposed to perusing vintage stores or shopping for previously owned goods, in fact, some of my most-coveted items are from decades past, and if I decide to hold onto them, they'll be antiques by the time I have kids. Moreover, how do you know when to hold onto something versus tossing it? Of the things I've purchased at a time when they've been popular, I wouldn't predict that my old Frankie B. jeans with a lace-up crotch from circa 2000 are ever going to come back in style. Is it a safer bet to put a Theory blazer in my treasure box for my future daughters to fawn over? Is it practical to keep anything without knowing what will end up being sought after?
The stuff my mom had that I yearn for are from now-defunct stores like Bullocks, Joseph Magnin and a little store called Judy's in Century City, California. None of the clothes would have screamed "keep me!" back in the day when she was getting rid of old stuff to make room in her closet for new belongings. When aviator sunglasses made their resurgence a few years ago, I asked my mom what she did with her originals from the '70s. She obviously had no clue where they went or at what point she gave or threw them away. So, I along with every other trendy youngster at the time purchased a brand spankin' new pair of Ray-Bans. Boorrriiinnggg.
There are a few gems she kept that have migrated to my closet and are in regular rotation 30 and 40 years after their initial appearance on a QE2 cruise ship (which is how Mom traveled for a time). Maybe part of the allure of these outfits is the setting in which I imagine them: the Mediterranean, European metropolises and Los Angeles forty years ago, all accompanied by cool old cars and previously touted cigarettes.