Favorite Outfits Never Really Leave You

I didn’t get much accomplished this week since I had to go to California for business and got caught in the floods there, delaying my return by one day. On the way to California, I saw an odd blimp out in the middle of the desert, just off the 10.

At the time, I found it confusing. Then I saw an article about Carnival Cruise Line starting a blimp campaign last year.  But the gardener saw a different article. That one said that the DEA is using blimps for border surveillance. Hmm. I guess it could be both. Truth is strange, as you know.

I’ve been working on my own version of Swedish Death Cleaning by trying to go through file drawers a little bit every day that I am home. I’m also finding objects and papery reminders which make me want to write more posts about the life of objects.

I found a couple of old photographs of one of my favorite outfits ever which led to a week-long meditation on “favorite outfits,” and the beginning of a possible poem. How many favorite outfits have you had in your life? I can count mine on both hands–maybe one hand.

I bought this one with my store discount from the fancy store in Kalamazoo where I worked when I first started college. It was called Jacobson’s, and they had an apparel store and a “store for the home,” but the prototype was probably Saks. This 3-piece jersey outfit was comfortable, and I loved the cream/vivid blue combination (although I’m not actually a blue person, probably half my favorite outfits have been blue or had blue in them). In these two photos you can see both the tank top and the jacket, but not the almost-palazzo pants. The beads were from work, too. I don’t know what ever happened to the outfit, but I suspect I literally wore it out. I never would have gotten rid of it otherwise. That’s how much I loved it. Best memory wearing it was in Jamaica, at our months-after-the-wedding honeymoon.

The man on the right is one of my uncles, and the other man was his FIL. I was serving punch at a family party. Isn’t it funny that seeing that outfit in the photos makes me as happy as wearing it used to? And why did I love that outfit so much more than anything else? I have always loved birds, and pheasants run loose on the fabric, but that’s only one aspect.

I can’t imagine feeling this way about what I wear today since I have it down to a uniform involving either yoga pants or Duluth Trading Company stretch pants along with a tunic, athletic shoes, and a ballcap.

Anybody else have those thoughts about favorite outfits of the past? Tell me about your favorites, please!


Filed under #AmWriting, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture, Writing

79 responses to “Favorite Outfits Never Really Leave You

  1. I just gave up a pair of jeans that I bought twenty five years ago. It was lone saying goodbye to an old friend.

    • Oh, those favorite jeans. So so hard to say goodbye. I had a pair that was actually so ripped up that I kept so long that I still expect them to turn up somewhere in my closet! Of course, I can no longer fit into those jeans. That you could wear yours that long is a testament to your will power haha.

  2. Oh Luanne, I love the photos and the outfit! I’v had many favorite outfits in the past. I have a super special Snoopy belt that I’m going to write about soon. Nowadays, my favorite outfit is my pajamas and Duke hoodie! 🤣 (only half kidding)

    • I can’t wait to read about that Snoopy belt! Who figured?! I hear you on the PJs and hoodie. I am a big hoodie fan, but only the zip front ones (claustrophobia, I guess). And the yoga pants are pretty much PJs, ya know.

  3. I used to have some jersey knit outfits that I loved, too. Comfortable and colorful. Like you, Duluth Trading has become my outditter of choice! And that blimp is definitely advertising Carnival, but maybe it’s looking for border crossers, too.

    • When I first started seeing those Duluth commercials, I thought, what?! hahaha But after trying a pair of their pants, I was hooked. The only thing is that I shrunk a pair with too much dryer. They still fit fine, but that little cell phone pocket on the leg touches my skin now and that is not good because I am super sensitive to touch (labels at the neck, everything annoys me). Now I just wash in the washer and then let dry. They are perfect in every way, even length.
      I wonder why jersey knit never came back. It was so lovely!

      • We actually went to the Duluth store in Duluth! It was great to be able to try things on so I would be more confident in ordering the right size (I do find their sizing inconsistent). I’m with you on the super-sensitivity!

      • When younger daughter was little, I had to cut out all the labels on her clothing, and pull out the elastic on the ends of sleeves. It all bothered her–stuff touching her skin, anything she thought was too tight. Then when she got to be a teen, she started wearing tight clothing. We laugh about it. 🙂

  4. You have inspired me to write about something that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks – not my favorite outfit but something along those lines. I will give you credit! Loved the pictures!

  5. I suppose we all have our favourite clothes we feel comfortable in, but I’m not much for clothes. I think one of my favourites was a shift type of sun dress that my sister lent me for a trip to Mexico about 40 years ago. It was pretty, cool, and comfortable, and it looked nice on me.

  6. I don’t have a lot of favorite outfits, but if I really pushed it they could probably be counted on one hand. But one of my favorite dresses that I still think of fondly was a cream color with long full, peasant-like sleeves, a broad fitted band around the waist with embroidery, and a full, short skirt. This was late 60/early 70’s. I wore it when I got married which had not really been planned, so I didn’t have an actual wedding dress, and no one took pictures. But I do have a picture wearing it on Easter Sunday the year before I wedded standing out on the patio with my younger brothers and sisters–a polaroid in black and white.

    • Oh, what a wonderful sounding dress! I am so glad you have such fond memories of it! I was playing a silly game on Facebook posting stills from movies that “made an impact on me,” and a friend and I realized that it was the memories tied to the movies that made them special.

  7. From the mid 80’s through to the late 90’s I wore a fine corduroy red skirt made up of eight flared panels that hung beautifully, swirled delightfully and pleased me no end. I invariably wore it with a long line navy top, different fabrics for different seasons. And a pair of red cowboy boots until they wore out and were swapped for a pair of black boots purchased in Italy which didn’t wear out for twenty years. Over the years the red corduroy fabric faded, became thin and finally tore in several places. I patched with pretty flower appliques and an elephant with a beaded head dress but in the end I had to admit defeat and was bereft and I’ve never again had any outfit that was so loved.

    • Oh, I LOVE how you wore it with cowboy boots and then kept the skirt going in a creative way!!! I so understand!!! And I am a big fan of reds of all types!!!!

  8. I remember when I was in the 6th grade, I had a pair of “elephant ear” pants. They were overly flared legs. Mine were light blue and I loved them! As a shy child, I remember them giving me confidence.

    • Oh, those sound cute! Maybe that’s one of the aspects of favorite clothes–that they give us confidence?! Thanks for getting me to think about that, Jill!

  9. I had a camel suit when I worked and I always felt so business like when I wore it. It commanded respect, therefore, so did I!

  10. anjum wasim dar

    Dear Luanne first of all I wish to thank you for your visits and likes on my poetry and story blogs…I am greatly honored and encouraged …your articles are very interesting informative and enjoyable. A pleasure to read..Thank you so much. My favourite dress was a white cotton frock with a red belt..guess I was 9 or 10… I loved it …now dress is just a simple one except for weddings …no fashion…yes color preference is there… mostly darker shades otherwise white

    • We share our poetry and writing loves :)! Thank you so much! Oh, that sounds so stylish and fun. I think at that age we really start to think more about what we wear and how it can even affect our interactions with others. I too love to wear dark shades today and nothing can top my love for wearing Emily Dickinson white ;).

  11. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I had a long wrapover skirt and matching elasticated top with puff sleeves. It was made of cheesecloth material in greens, teal and blue. I felt lovely wearing it:)).

  12. Thanks for this post, Luanne 🙂 Neat memories and I also loved the photo of the blimp over the desert.
    My favourite was a bathing suit: fluorescent green, yellow and turquoise tie dye swirl in the centre; it had a racer back so the straps would never fall off my shoulders (useful for boogie boarding, cartwheels, sand castle building on the beach, etc.). It was initially too big for me and then fit me well from age 9-11. After that, my lime green and black platform foam sandals (I was/am short, so they gave me a glimpse of height as a normal kid). Third place: the simple, plain blue Mavi jeans that I wore throughout my teens; I wore them so much that my mom threw them out before they ripped while I was in public.

    • I was checking out your blog, and it strikes me that a bathing suit is so apropos given your Bermuda upbringing! It sounds lovely, and the sandals sound WOW!!! Was it hard to walk on them? I had a pair of big platforms once, and I found it difficult to walk in the summer because we lived at the lake with a dirt driveway and lots of rough, “rocky” lawn. Were you upset your mom threw the jeans away or not?!

  13. I tend to wear stuff forever. I can’t really think of a favorite, except I remember a dress I used to wear often when I was in ninth grade (because girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school–that changed the next year). It was black with a bright paisley design, a full-ish skirt, and a wide belt, that I thought made my waist look small. Well, I was small then, so it probably did. 🙂

  14. One of my favorite outfits was from the 80s – a hot pink and black jumper. I don’t think I have any pictures scanned. It was pretty hideous, actually, but was perfectly right for the time period.

  15. I have a chambray shirt and a flannel shirt (blue and pink plaid) that have finally been transferred to the scraps bin after roughly 30 years. This is after using embroidery and patching to keep them wearable 🙂 I also have fond memories of a embroidered muslin blouse that I bought for myself when I was 19 and wore for many years, until it no longer fit. It’s sad when I give up my favorites because I’ve literally out-grown them 😉 By the way, my husband and I placed our first order with Duluth a couple of weeks ago, should be getting our package today in fact. It’ll be interesting to see how the clothes fit. I read reviews before selecting sizes so … fingers crossed. The problem with inconsistent sizing isn’t just Duluth. I used to buy a lot from LL Bean until I ran into sizing issues. A few years ago I bought a pair of stretch pants that I just fell in love with so the following month I ordered two more pair of the same exact pants. Although they were the same size, the fit was bigger and longer than the pair I bought first! I think it has to do with importing their clothes. Also there are no standards in clothing sizes. Seriously. Sizes are whatever the clothes manufacturer says they are. Too bad because I prefer to shop online.

    • Good luck with the Duluth! I can’t wait to hear how you like their clothes. These pants are just phenomenal. I love the sound of your favorite tops, although I admit the embroidered muslin blouse sounds so much like my favorite as a teen. Mine was the usual cream with red and purple embroidered in the smocking area. Worn with long Indian style errands and an attitude I hoped was pure flower child.

      • My muslin blouse had blue embroidery on a smocked front. Fond memories there. We got our Duluth clothes but haven´t worn them yet, just tried on. I ordered a pair of heavy duty carpenter pants. As usual, they fit just right in the hips and leave a huge gap at the waist. I´ll give them a wash but I´ll probably have to wear a belt … lol. I´ll check out the pants you like so much.

  16. You do look pretty and happy! It’s hard for me to imagine/see you as brunette.
    My rainbow sweater, worn from 1991-1999. God bless its popcorn knit softness. I think I only have ONE photo of me in it and I can’t imagine which box that’s in! It grew holes in it and I mended them with the thread toys from my kindergarten classroom 😛 Until, well, it was more mending than original. Then I only wore it at home and my son got older… well, it was obscene, soooo.
    I am 100% sassy in my dark CK jeans (circa 98) with a loose blouse (usually coral but sometimes ice blue or puce) and tall sandals. If my hair looks good when I wear those things, I am untouchable 😉 I consider that outfit weaponry. Rawr!

    • CORAL, YES!!!!!!!!!!! RAWR FOR SURE! I love hearing about your rainbow sweater. it sounds so cozy.
      I can’t even remember my hair as dark as in this picture. During the summer my hair used to lighten some and redden a lot and last about six months that way, so this photo is catching me before that time of the year. My mom used to call me a “brownette with reddish highlights” instead of a brunette because she thought my hair was more brown-brown than dark brown LOL. After I started coloring my hair my favorite period was REDHEAD, but sadly a week later it would fade out.

      • My hair is the SAME color, Luanne! Brownette is a cute expression, I may keep that. My hair is brown, and reasonably dark, but in the sun, it’s red. I think it’s getting darker brown now, or the gray makes it look that way. I dunno, I am not unhappy 🙂

        • Gray does strange things to hair color IMO. It kind of distorts it. The reason I don’t keep my hair gray is that it doesn’t suit my skin shade. The real reason is vanity.

          • I understand. When my hair is white or silver, or both, I know it will need some ‘warming’ too. Lots of white so far, not so silver like my mother’s 🙁 But then, I’m a gold person anyway, right?

  17. I wish I had my teenage jeans. They were expressive of a time in my life I cherished.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s the memories or time period as well as how an outfit made us feel that makes them memorable. It really isn’t about the exact looks of the garment. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I don’t have any clothes that come to mind, but perfumes do. Even when I smell certain perfumes like Windsong or a perfume with its base jasmine, I remember the days I wore it.

    • I’ve read (somewhere) that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, so I completely understand. In fact, recently I went back (for some occasions) to an old perfume I used to wear sooo many years ago, probably because it reminded me of happy times! I love jasmine!

  19. Really interesting thoughts Luanne. What immediately sprung to mind was a skirt I bought from a second hand shop when I was a teenager – it was long to my feet, A-line, dark blue with silver sparkly thread all the way through it. I was a bit of a goth then and I loved that skirt!

  20. Val

    Writing posts (and poems) on objects is interesting. And this will probably be something I’ll write some time in my new blog I’ve just opened… hmmm… will have to think about it. As for favourite clothes – the ones I adored, I still have, but they’re in a drawer and I open that drawer and gaze at them from time to time to bring back the memories. One was a skirt (I think I cut it up for the fabric – wayyy too small for me to get into these days even if I’d left it alone) made out of Indian fabric in a bright almost azure-blue with shisha mirrors and embroidery. And another is a red velvet top with a deep shaped neckline (a bit like the lower part of a heart).

    I’d never heard of Swedish Death Cleaning til your post, so I had a quick look and it seems to be something I started a while back. My dad had an immense clear-out a couple of years before he died and he was very organised. Me, I’ve never been organised but feel the need to be more so because really, there’s enough to do after someone dies without having to worry about another person’s belongings. Takes time, though.

  21. Lovely memory, Luanne! I’ll be interested to hear how you may explore this through your poetic work. Happy to read it made you feel happy just to see the photo again and be reminded of the favorite outfit. Cool!

  22. Reading this has me thinking that you are not cleaning out things, you are excavating your past memories. Makes the process much more fun. I didn’t have photos of myself in many of my favorite outfits but if I find one, it does trigger some interesting memories. I love how our clothes express different parts of our personalities. This was so fun and interesting to read. Thanks for the memories. 😉

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