The Uniform

The blue nautical dress from Talbot's was my mother's favorite for almost two decades. She wore it so often that my young cousin Patty asked her mother if the dress was auntie's uniform, as if she were a private school student or an officer. The dress does have a military vibe with the flags.

When my cousin and aunt would see my mom, they'd exclaim "Auntie is wearing her uniform today!"

The uniform became a family joke. We all found it comical that she was so reliant on this one article of clothing when she had more clothes the average Talbot's store. But at least it was one thing never changed about her.

She loved the dress because of the comfy elastic waist in case she went to Grand China Buffet, and the wrinkle-free polyester which made it easy to pack. She believed the dress was so universal that she bought ones for my aunts and grandmother. But they didn't take to it like she did so she kept them all. I read Karl Lagerfeld also buys four (I think it's four or more!) of every item of clothing but it's because he keeps identical closets in every city where he has a home.

When clearing out the garage with Geneva, I was reluctant to let go of the uniforms. They were my mother incarnate. Geneva suggested I use the fabric to upholster a chair. Then mom will always be with me in a permanent but more silent way.

Seeing the uniforms billowing off the garage door comforts and unnerves. It reminds me that my worst nightmare is an army of mothers in the dress, telling me to put on a sweater and to call more often.


Mitchel Kennedy said...

I remember my parents having nautically-themed clothing when I was really little. Was it a trend back then? Maybe it was summer-type clothing.

Raina Lee said...

it probably was summer clothing but my mom wore it year round. Also, it's always summer in LA! But I guess nautical is a look that never goes out!

Mitchel Kennedy said...

Ah! I'm on the other side of the continent and quite a bit more north. My folks only busted out the anchors when the beach started to warm up, which was maybe two months out of the year!

You should definitely post pictures of any furniture you upholster with your mother's fine dresses!

Raina Lee said...

furniture and maybe some throw pillows!

nancyillustration.com said...

This is so beautiful! We had a similar experience cleaning out my grandma's house (war ration stamps in the pantry in 1996), only you get to live with all the stuff!
This blog is a fantastic way to channel it all. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

How poignant! whatever you do with the dress(es) you should at least keep one. Have you ever tried the dress on?

Raina Lee said...

Hi Nancy! woah war rations! Hopefully I won't live with the stuff for much longer! Thanks for visiting!

Terry, thank you! I've never tried one on. I'm a little scared! Maybe I will recreate some of my mom's photos of me wearing that dress.

Parisa said...

I totally followed in your mom's footsteps last summer!

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