Already Prettypoll: The Emotional Wardrobe

My family isn’t big into heirlooms of any kind. I’ve got my great grandmother’s fine china collecting dust in my basement, and a few pieces of lovely jewelry from my grandmother, but that’s about it. Probably the most beloved heirloom in our house is actually Husband Mike‘s: My dad had his old Martin Dreadnought repaired and cleaned up, and gave it to HM a few years back. He took that guitar with him to Peru during his Peace Corps years, and I spent my childhood singing songs while he played it. I love that we have it in the house.

But in terms of wardrobe items that hold emotional value, most of mine are from my various vacations. My bulky sweaters from Iceland, a silk scarf from New York, even thrift finds from visits to my grandma in St. Louis feel special. I’d wager that a sweater I bought in Tasmania is my most emotionally significant piece. I bought it off the back of a salesclerk in a boutique in Hobart, and at the time it was the most expensive piece in my wardrobe. And worth every penny. You can take a peek at it here. Doesn’t get a ton of wear, but I’d be heartbroken if anything ever happened to it.

How about you? What are some of the elements of your emotional wardrobe? What are their stories?

  • Jen

    My mother dresses mostly in Goodwill clothes, and we have this running job that her legacy to me will be passed back from whence it came. Goodwill clothes are awesome, third-hand Goodwill clothes, not so much. However, my dad has bought her some nice pieces of jewelry over the years, mostly dealing with her jemstone (emerald) or the family’s (aquamarine, amesytht, sapphire) which she lets me borrow regularly and which I’ll inherit and wear gratefully. My Dad is undergoing chemo for 4-6 weeks three hours away from home, and I’m trying to come up with some way to have a reminder of him with me. At first I thought I would make it Hawaiian shirt Fridays, but they’re really big and not my style. I’m thinking I might wear his class ring on a necklace chain.

    As far as other things go, I have some embrodiered hankies from my Grandma, and if it’s not too morbid, I’d like the leather vest my Grandpa wears often once he’s gone. It reminds me of him, and actually, I’d give it a good home and new life. He also has this really gaudy diamond pinkie ring, but it’s worth a pretty penny. I’m hoping he’ll let each of the kids/grandkids break it up into individual diamonds. It’d make a pretty solitaire pendant.

    My other sentimental jewelry pieces are from my travels. I have Murano glass beads I made into jewelry from Italy, matching Greek key set of earrings and bracelet, Vatican rosaries I wear to church sometimes (nope, not Catholic, and I know they’d never do this, but whatever), and other pieces. One of my favorite pair of earrings from Italy made out of that irridescent greenish shell has gone missing. Over my Christmas break, I think I’m literally going to tear my room apart to see if I can find it. (I’m also painting my bedroom, so it’s not that much of a stretch.) I try to look for things that aren’t “in” in the states, so when someone asked, “Ooo, where did you get that?” I can smugly say, “Oh, Italy/France/Switzerland.”

  • Jen

    P.S. You totally need to wear that sweater more often. It’s awesome. But that lavender next to your favorite makes you look ill, sorry. Have you tried it with a deeper jewel color?

    • Anonymouse

      What you are seeing is just over-exposure in the pic, not the color making Sally look “ill”. She looks just fine in the full-body photo.

      • Jen

        Oh okay, my bad. And that should read *face* instead of *favorite*. I think I was up too early.

  • Libbie

    My most emotional pieces are two pieces of jewelry — the two I wear most often. One is a small diamond-and-white-gold anchor pendant on a thin chain. It’s the only piece of diamond jewelry I own, but it’s so special to me because my boyfriend gave it to me for Christmas last year just before his deployment to the Middle East. He was gone for most of the year, and is now home safely, I am happy and relieved to say. I wore that necklace and his spare dog tag every single day that he was gone, and continue to wear the necklace most days now that he’s home. Every time I put it on it reminds me of him.

    The other piece is a silver bracelet given to me by my boyfriend’s mother for the same Christmas. It’s gorgeous, made of filigreed links set with one small diamond and two sapphires so dark they look black. It’s more fancy than my necklace so it doesn’t get as much wear, but I love it…and again, not for the gemstones, but for the sentimental value. When she gave it to me, his mom told me she’d had it since her father gave it to her as a teenager in Germany. It made me feel so special and loved to receive such a gift — like I was being acknowledged as part of the family. :) It is the first truly heirloom piece of jewelry I’ve ever owned. I can imagine myself passing it along to a possible future child some day.

    I do have some other treasured heirlooms in my home, but not of the wardrobe variety. My father and grandfather both were professional artists, and I feel very lucky to own several of their paintings — some of which I’ve had to purchase, as my father died unexpectedly eight years ago and never had a chance to make his own heirlooms to pass along to my sister and me. I also own paintings by family friends who were professional artists. I’ve never even bothered to have them appraised — they’re undoubtedly worth some serious bucks, but I’ll never part with them, so I don’t care. (Though I really ought to get them insured, so I suppose I must get them appraised soon. It also feels pointless to insure them, though, because if I ever lost them nothing could replace them.)

    And I own several quilts made by my amazing Granny. They are all gorgeous, and they’re the things in my home that always receive the most compliments. Granny is a whiz with color — her quilts are not the typical “old lady quilt.” Every time she comes for a visit she talks about how awful the quilts are because a few of them have imperfect corners in the patterns, but I only love them more for their imperfections!

    Great post, Sally! I never thought about how many special heirlooms I have in my home until now. (And now I really DO need to make an appointment with my insurance agent! Yikes!)

  • Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I don’t have any emotional wardrobe pieces, sad to say, but I do wear the wedding band my father gave to my mother in 1954. It’s a narrow band of small diamonds and I simply love it.

  • Mistie

    I don’t have many sentimental pieces of clothing except for my Warren Sapp jersey (a Tampa Bay Buccaneers player). I was married in it. My family are huge Bucs fans, and my husbands’ family are huge Dolphins fans, so when we got married–quickly and at the courthouse, he wore a Dolphins jersey and I wore a Bucs jersey. My family came in Bucs jerseys and his came in Dolphins colors. It was silly and wonderful. After having our daughter, the jersey is laughably too small, but I can’t get rid of it.

    I also have a lot of beautiful jewelry given to me by my husband. My sister makes jewelry, so all of the pieces she has given me are very special as well. My grandmother crochets, and the pieces I have from her are extremely sentimental.

    Probably the most special thing I own though is my grandfather’s bible. I’m not religious, but he was extremely religious. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen him holding his bible, and it is filled with his handwriting. My grandfather was a carpenter, but his favorite place in his home, other than his shop, was his office which was lined with bookshelves. His were mostly Christian and Westerns, but I remember being a little kid and playing in there with him. My favorite parts of my home are lined with books as well, and although they aren’t religious and only a few of them are Westerns, it does remind me of my grandfather.

  • Genevieve

    Dang, Sally. You get me every time.
    This morning I am a very very emotional dresser.
    I just found out I have a melanoma that will require surgery. Thankfully it should not require more than that. This comes on the heels of a failed fertility treatment that has left me feeling very emotionally fragile.
    This morning I wrapped myself in a big cream colored sweater that feels like a hug. I am carrying the purse my dear recently departed Granny used to carry and wearing her necklace. She survived breast cancer three times and died at age 92. She was one of the strongest ladies I’ve ever known. Thanks for helping me remember that I carry with me these talismans of her strength and fighting spirit.

    • Sal

      Oh Genevieve, sending you big hugs, my dear.

  • Sheila

    I was just thinking about this the other day when I pulled a handmade leather satchel out of the closet. I bought it at a thirft store back in my punk days and its come back in style no less than three times in the nearly 30 years I’ve called it mine. I have a few other pieces that hold emotional value: A scarf that belonged to my mother back in the 70’s, a rhinestone brooch from a favorite boutique that’s long since closed the doors. These are objects I cherish. A good piece can be like wearing your history.

  • Susan

    Please wear that Tasmanian sweater again soon. It is beautiful!

    I had never thought of wardrobe/accessory items as emotional. So, I’ve been thinking. I have a Carlos Falchi (sp?) black belt with an ornate gold buckle that I splurged on over 25 years ago. It was $80 at the time, which seems over the top in terms of expense. It’s still beautiful and I wear it several times a year. It has the ability to totally change an outfit.

    I also have a lovely silver and onyx necklace I purchased in Athens, Greece. It is a lovely piece of refined folk art and I always marvel at it when I wear it.

  • Eliza

    I would be extremely upset if anything happened to my brown boots. I fell in love with them, and debated them for about six months before buying them. I have trouble spending large amounts on clothing, to the point where I’ll find something I’ve been searching for after years of looking for the perfect whatever, have saved a specific budget for that purchase which more than covers the cost , but still end up waking away. because I can’t let go of the money. My boots were one of the first purchases where I was able to recognize that I REALLY did want them, and I’d be happier owning the boots and having a little less in the bank for a while than just letting them go.

    In terms of other items which I have an emotional attatchment to, most are pieces of jewelry from my passed down at least from my great-grandmother, like a curved man’s Gruen watch which was bought for my great grandfather, but my great grandmother ended up wearing, and a little ivory charm with a secret compartment which I remember my grandmother showing me as a girl.The first nice dress I got after puberty is sentimental too, because I was having a difficult time adjusting, and it took my mother, grandmother and I a miserably long day to find a dress that was modest enough to make me comfortable, without looking dowdy.

  • Ellen

    My most sentimental wardrobe piece I have is a sterling silver Napier bracelet in a leaf design. My mother gave it to me when, because of her arthritis, she could no longer clasp it around her wrist. I remember her wearing it when I was a kid in the 60’s. It’s my go to piece of jewelry–compliments galore–and a fond memory of when my mom was young and healthy.

  • hellotampon

    I have some inexpensive items of jewelry from my mother and grandmother that I like to wear and look at because they are so familiar, and some of them are really cute. I have a beautiful quilt that was made by my great-great-aunt Cora, who I remember visiting as a child. And I’m pretty attached to a lot of my clothes, not because they have much sentimental or monetary value, but because they are unique, I guess. I suppose I get attached to objects pretty easily, because I can say the same thing about most of my knick knacks and furniture.

  • Kat

    I can’t bring myself to get rid of the shoes I got married in. They are fabulous Fluevog pumps and they never fit right. I ended up in stocking feet at my reception because they hurt, but they’re so gorgeous… And I got married in them!

  • Mrs.M in MI

    I wear my favorite family heirloom everyday: my wedding ring is my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring. She was my favorite person.

    As far as sentimental clothing and accessories go, I can boil it down to three items. My pearl stud earrings, which were a wedding gift from my husband; my vintage tan cowboy boots, which I thrifted ages ago but would be devastated if I lost or destroyed them; and my navy pencil skirt, which opened up a whole new neutral for me (that is now my favorite).

  • Mila

    I stole a white dress shirt from my brother when I was 13 – very early 90s style, kind of filmy and baggy cut and a little…metrosexual. Like something Color Me Bad might have worn. It was what I was wearing 5 years later when I finally kissed the boy I had a HUGE crush on (I wore it tied off to expose my tummy as was all the rage in the mid nineties and was apparently my “seduction” look). And I still have that shirt today (I wear it as a beach cover up), 16 years later, with the boy being my husband of 11 years. So that is the my most emotional article of clothing.

  • Seraphinalina

    I love your sweater! It’s beautiful.

    I have jewellry that is significant to me from both sides of the family although more so from my mom’s side. I have a couple of things I’ve bought on vacation, a sweater a bit like yours that I bought in Montreal for example. If I want to wear something for an emotional boost though, it’s made by me.

  • Cel

    There’s a skirt I bought way back when I first started getting into vintage clothes and really doing serious thrifting. It’s still my favourite skirt, and sort of embodied my first purchase toward a ‘new me’. I went through a serious personality change and a move toward being a different person and I really associate that time of my life to that skirt and all the good changes that came with it.

  • Anne

    After reading this post and reflecting on it, I realize I am blessed to have an extensive emotional wardrobe. My maternal grandmother had three sisters. They were all bold and opinionated and ground breaking for their time. They all got together pretty regularly when I was growing up and it is from them that I learned about relationships among women. My Aunt Anne, whom I am named after was my favorite. During her lifetime she had own her own beauty parlor, a boutique, and had been a buyer for a local department store. She had great style. She died of cancer when I was 11. I still miss her terribly but I do have several pieces from her wardrobe as keepsakes. I have her Acme boots, a beautiful custom made blouse with a big “A” monogrammed on the front. I also have her engagement ring. I have my grandmother’s wedding dress (a beautiful hand beaded flapper dress!)

    I had always wanted to wear my mother’s wedding dress in my own wedding. Unfortunately my mother did not have a very happy marriage and she took out some of her frustrations on the dress. I remember pulling it out of the garbage at least twice. Needless to say the dress was in no shape to be worn by the time my wedding rolled around and I think my mother was afraid of passing down bad karma to me through it. We salvaged just enough lace to make a handbag for me and had some salvaged bows sewn on my wedding shoes. The way I looked at it, it was just enough dress for the optimism and high hopes of marriage to be passed along.

    I am hoping to wear my grandmother’s dress for my 20th anniversary and though I might never wear my wedding shoes again, or use that handbag, I will always keep them around.

    Thanks Sally for giving me an opportunity to reflect on these things. I am a very lucky lady.

  • Grace

    My husband and I have a small container (the plastic case a down comforter came in, to give you a sense of the size) of “sentimental clothes” that we keep in the basement. His are T-shirts, some so faded you can hardly tell what was on them, from various concerts, events, school clubs, that kind of thing. Mine are… well, there is an amazing rainbow sweater that was my boyfriend’s, during my (ahem) hippie phase, and there are a few really costumey things (western shirts) I don’t wear with my band anymore. There is also the wedding dress (cotton, simple, made by a friend) from my first wedding. We live in a very small house, and so from time to time, we really do need to purge things, so this collection really represents the “survivors.” Not heirlooms, zero value — we call them what they are: “The sentimental clothes.”

  • coffeeaddict

    In terms of heirloom, I have been fortunate to have a few exquisite items passed down both from my mum and my grandmother. In these economic times I find it difficult to wear them, it somehow feels inappropriate.
    In terms of sentimental value, I admit freely that I get way to attached to the things in my closet. Partly because these are items that were made to last and if you wear the same pair of shoes for 6 years and they’ve carried you through all sorts of events there’s bound to be an emotional link connection.

  • Kat

    I have three dresses that don’t quite fit anymore but I think I will never be able to part with:

    One is the dress I wore to my 10th grade homecoming dance. I was kind of an awkward, socially anxious kid, so the idea of going to a school dance wasn’t that appealing anyway, but there was no way I would have been able to afford a dress (especially not one that the much wealthier kids in my social circle wouldn’t have thought was cheap and embarrassing), so I was planning to stay home. My best friend wanted to go, though, so we went shopping together for her dress; I was going to go try on dresses too even though I knew I wasn’t going to bring any of them home. One I tried on was a long cobalt blue gown; I looked in the mirror and was almost surprised it was me. My friend came out of her dressing room and told me it was amazing, didn’t I think so? I agreed, and she triumphantly cut the tag off of it and told me she was buying the dress for me and I was going to homecoming with her. That dress is staying in my closet forever.

    The second dress is the one I wore for my senior undergraduate recital. It’s a velvet gown bought from a period-inspired collection; I wanted something different than the standard shiny gown. The first recital I ever did in college was on the weekly student program everyone had to do once a semester. As a freshman I was still shy and awkward, and in the middle of my piece I panicked and had to leave the stage; by my senior year I could play a difficult full hour final program confidently, and the dress marked that success.

    The third is the dress I wore to my mother’s funeral. Not the one in the church–I couldn’t even go, instead waiting for the reception; the idea of hearing a priest talk about the Catholic version of the afterlife was too much for me. The real one, the one my mother had always said she wanted even before she knew she was dying. She wanted her true friends to gather in party dresses, reading passages from The Velveteen Rabbit and playing her favorite songs. True to her wishes I wore purple, a cocktail dress she had gotten me for Christmas. We took turns passing around the kids’ book, struggling to read aloud without bawling.

    • Allison

      Oh I love your response SO much. The homecoming dress was my favorite and then I read about the other 2. It was an emotional entry and those dresses represent such wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing them!!! You touched my heart.

  • Amber

    My most emotional pieces of clothing would be the wrap skirts I bought (or were given) during a trip to Thailand when I was in my early 20s. They aren’t high-quality pieces, and I don’t wear any of them that often, but they hold memories of walking through the market eating a pineapple pastry and being in a completely different place…and loving it. The pieces themselves don’t really “work” in my wardrobe, but I can’t bring myself to part with them…so they stay in my closet :)

  • Mia

    Despite the fact that I try to deny it, I’m a pretty sentimental person, especially when it comes to objects, so you can imagine that my emotional wardrobe is pretty full. The memories attached to certain items just feel too strong to ever let go. I have t-shirts that Tia made me back in high school (iron-ons and all) that don’t fit anymore, but which I just can’t relinquish. A couple of years back my mom gave me a great deal of jewelry she doesn’t wear anymore, and a lot of THAT was made by my grandmother, who died before I was born, so I feel a connection to both my mom and my grandma when I wear any of it. I also have a hat that my best friend Jessica gave me last Christmas, just about a month before she unexpectedly died, so that hat will stay with me forever.

  • Jen

    My mother passed away a few years ago and she had a really rough childhood which caused her to save everything and never, ever wear her nicer items. While sorting through things we came across a gorgeous tan fur coat; my father said while they were dating she mentioned always wanting a “nice coat” so he bought her this one, 30+ years ago. There was little hope of it fitting either of us as I’m 6″ taller than my mother and my sister was 3″ shorter…but it fit me like a glove. I’ve yet to wear it outside because where I live it’s never quite cold enough to warrant it, but I’m hoping that I’ll find a way to wear it.

  • poodletail

    An oval gold pendant given by my dad to my mom when they were engaged: Dad’s initials on one side, Mom’s on the other. My mother’s pearls. My 33-yr.-old watch: a gift from Hubby on our 5th anniversary. A 35-year-old Burberry scarf.

  • D

    My emotional pieces mostly seem to be jewelry. My late grandma’s wedding ring, the earrings and necklace my parents gave me for my wedding, my quinceanera crucifix necklace, my green glass beads I bought in Venice on my honeymoon…I do have some clothes that I have some sort of emotional attachment to, but I think I care more about the jewelry.

  • http://www.monkeyobsessions.blogspot alice

    In an effort to pare down my possessions, I’ve worked pretty hard at separating memories and sentiment from objects and I think I’ve succeeded for the most part (not initially easy because I’m a pretty sentimental person!). That said, I can think of a few things that have survived many many purges despite not fitting the criteria for form or function. One of these is a sweater my aunt and my mom used to wear in their 20s. It was passed down to me when I left for college and I wore it literally ALL the time in my early 20s. To the point that when I meet up with my college friends now they still ask about it. It was mended once for me by a woman I worked with, several times by my mom and now it hangs in my closet with two holes in it, waiting for another mend. I haven’t worn it in over a year, but I can’t imagine parting with it ever. It’s made from synthetic materials, it’s no longer my style, but it’s strongly associated with a lovely time in my life and two women I love dearly, so it stays!

  • Meshell

    My emotional garments are primarily ones I received from my grandmother — a huge mink stole with her fully name embroidered into the inner arm flap (and matching hat), a Sears picture necklace of my self as a baby and my older sister, and a beautiful white gold leaf ring that I enjoyed playing with at all those church services as a child.

    Shucks, a majority of my clothes are sentimental items. I receive so much second hand that when I wear it, I think of the amazingness of that person and how I can add my own awesomeness to the garment.

  • Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    I have lots of wardrobe items w/emotional resonance, mostly jewelry. Some pretty things my husband has given me, my few pieces of “real” gems from my stepfather, some great necklaces made by wonderful friends, & a couple things picked up along my travels. Each one has beloved memories of people & places attached to it, so they feel like special secrets when I wear them to work & even like magical talismans protecting me, esp. on bad days or when I know I have something unpleasant or difficult ahead.

    But very few full garments have the same power. Mostly bec. I can’t be troubled to hang on to a whole piece if it no longer fits my body or my style! Out it goes, regardless of sentiment. I’ll hang on to it for a few years & then get annoyed that it’s taking up space. My prom gown got tossed after a decade (omg, the ’80s monstrosity had to go!). The only reason my wedding gown stays is that (a) it’s a historical costume that I always planned to wear again & have & (b) even tho’ I lost a lot of weight & couldn’t fit into it for 5 years, I never got around to altering it & the I gained the weight back so it fits again & I’ve worn it again!

    But jewelry is small & less trendy, the sentimental pieces are more likely to go with many outfits. So they can stay.

  • Megan Mae

    I’ve tried to stop being so emotionally attached to my physical wardrobe. It’s been a conscious decision because otherwise I feel sad when something becomes dirty/stained/ripped/etc.

    But I am currently rather attached to my mom’s amethyst ring. It’s got 9 large amethysts. I wish it fit, but I hope someday to get it resized.

  • Jess

    I have two best friends from high school – all three of us are really close. One is a man and the other is a woman. The other woman and I take a lot of joy and pride in picking out the perfect present. It’s easy giving gifts between the two of us, because we know things like the exact shade of nail polish the other will love, or the perfect necklace to go with that new dress she bought last month. But our guy friend is different. We love him to pieces, and he us, but he’s really hard to shop for and he thinks the same of us, so we usually end up just exchanging socks and chocolate. LAME. Though I actually do like both socks and chocolate. I digress.
    Anyway, one Christmas, he gets us a surprising present – jewelery. I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly particular when it comes to the kind of jewelery I like. My female friend is a bit more open than me, but would still be classified as picky. But the things he got us – for her, some pearly earrings that look FANTASTIC against her skin and with most of her clothes, and for me, a delicate gold bracelet with decorated with a highly polished piece of blue shell. It just so happens to be almost the same shade as my eyes.

    To this day, both of us still comment on how much we love these presents. I know that I’d never get rid of mine in a million years, even if I stopped having things to wear with it.

    I also have a pair of old leather flip flops that used to belong to my dad, who died when I was a child. They’re FAR too big for my feet, but sometimes I wear them around the house anyway. :)

  • Catherine

    I’m also in the not-much-heirloom tribe. I have a pendant/earings set that used to belong to my great-grandmother and that’s all.My emotional pieces are generally those I made. Especially when it was the first time I succeded at something new.

    Also, I would be heartbroken if anything happened to my concert/event t-shirts. They are good memories in wearable form.

  • Katharine

    I have some emotional pieces, but I almost never wear them. Several sets of full evening wear from my grandfather (hand-tailored for him in Dublin; my grandpa was a fairly big cheese in his day) — the jackets fit me, but the trousers are too long. My partner wore them on stage once, playing Sherlock Holmes. (Also included in my Grandpa Stash: shirt and collar studs, several detachable collars, a couple of Irish linen shirts, one of them an evening shirt with a stiff pleated front, old-fashioned braces, and a cummerbund. My sister has his silk top hat in the leather hatbox.)

    My grandma’s (the wife of Grandpa above) best bits of jewellery — she was an artist, and had a great fondness for modern (in the forties/fifties) Nordic silver jewellery. Very sculptural; when I’m in a jewellery mood, I do wear them.

    A Liberty scarf with a Celtic design that my mother brought back for me from Ireland (I think when my Grandpa died, and my parents went overseas without us for the funeral).

    A bunch of handkerchiefs with hand-crocheted edges made by my Oma — I do use these. Oma was an incredibly talented crocheter, and made the most gorgeous lace from very fine thread. (Including whole tablecloths! my mother has those.) A single earring from her mother — my great-grandmother — which is a sapphire in a delicate old-gold setting. I’m not sure why exactly my mother gave me that. One day, maybe, I will have it reset, perhaps as a ring (the Victorian hook clasp is highly insecure, which no doubt accounts for the fact that there is only one earring extant.)

    A green silk beaded evening bag, and matching headband, made by me for my 12th-grade — well, you’d call it a prom, but we didn’t, it was the Grad Dance or something. I used scraps from the green silk dress my mother made for me, but the dress (which was a horrifically unflattering piece of clothing) has long since disappeared.

    My wedding ring from my dead marriage; it’s not a good emotion, but it’s there. I keep running across it in my jewellery box and thinking “I should do something about this,” but what? I don’t want to sell it; I can’t give it to anyone… throw it in a lake? That seems suitably dramatic. Anyway, I haven’t, yet. (I rather ruthlessly shoved the wedding dress into a donation bin last year, though. However, it wasn’t a purpose-built wedding dress, just a cream-coloured beaded summer thing.)

    A red necklace of beads and strings all tied up and crazy, and a red leather cuff bracelet, and a red Peruvian llama wool shawl — all bought for me by my current partner. Treasured because he is a freelancer and very rarely has the money to buy frivolous things (for me or anyone) and the necklace and the bracelet are super fun and just my style. (So is the shawl, really, except that it SHEDS red bits like mad!)

    A jean jacket that I deliberately destroyed in high school (and wore consistently, even in winter, despite my mother’s dire predictions of pneumonia, through Grades 12 and 13). It’s all covered in bleach and India ink splatters, the bottom band and sleeve cuffs are cut off, and it still has my original 80s safety-pin mosaics down the front.

  • Sal

    It is so amazing to hear about these treasured pieces and their respective stories!

  • FutureLint

    I have a few Norwegian sweaters that belonged to my dad in 4th grade that I like to wear. And a few items from my godmother who died last year. Otherwise, most of my clothes that I cherish, I love because of the style or how they make me feel vs. an emotional connection to them.

  • Allison

    Sweet Sal – I LOVE LOVE LOVE this thread! I read every single response and adored all of the stories of the beloved items.

    As for me – this is tricky. I’m at a point that I don’t buy things unless I absolutely cannot live without them. So, things have gotten very well-edited around here.

    Anyway, I did think of one item that I have – it’s a navy and dark green Pendelton wool plaid jacket that belonged to my grandpa. I used to wear it all the time – now I just have it. I’ve purged a lot of stuff but I just cannot part with this jacket.

    I also have some jewelry from my family – much of it is from Italy and passed down through generations. I love having that. My hubby has also gotten me some spectacular pieces – one is a Tiffany watch with diamonds… a very rare extravagance that represents the successes he had owning his own business. He gave it to me because he could. It will always be a treasured piece because it represents the hard road to get “there.”

  • joann, sidewalk chic

    I try to collect a bangle or bracelet during my travels. I would cry if anything ever happened to the bangle I got in Hawaii during my honeymoon.

    Don’t have very many heirlooms, but I do have one of my mother’s old silk bathrobes. It’s kind of a kimono-style design, and I think my dad picked up in Japan for her when he was in the Navy.

  • Erika

    Wow, what a trigger and what stories! I’m lucky enough to have lots of family stuff (although this is also a fairly weighty responsibility as well), and they are all important to me – they help me feel “rooted” and are tangible links to memories I have or people I have never known (like my mother’s father, who died before I was born). I have his WW1 diaries, colour flash and the brass emblems (A for ANZAC, the rising sun of the AIF and “Australia”), the teapot he used in New Guinea, the brass tray he and Gran were given as a wedding gift and some of the things he collected. I’ve also got the necklace of flying fox teeth that was given to my mother by the staff when the family finally left PNG to go back to Australia. I’ve a number of silk evening scarves that used to belong to various great-uncles. There are also some photos, drawings and a very old pastel from that side of the family, an enamelled 7 day clock and some very old and chipped but beautiful crystal goblets.

    I’ve a “hoard” wardrobe which has clothes in it – some pieces of my paternal grandmother’s (much smaller than me, so this is very much “memories of Nan”), my mother’s from the 1950’s, when she was a hostess with QANTAS – beautifully made, a tiny red velvet pinafore and dark blue jumper with reindeer I wore as an infant and the red poncho that great-aunt Ilma crocheted for me. And there are actually some clothes that belong to the Beloved – t-shirts from every single Summernats (24 so far), and old car club jackets.

    What I wear every day though – my rings. My engagement ring was my mother’s. My wedding band is made with stones from Nan’s wedding bands (which were so frail that last time the jeweller tried to replace a missing stone, the metal just crumbled). And I have a pendant which has the remaining stones from those bands – around the diamond that was part of Gran’s engagement ring. That had 3 stones – one went to each sister – and both my aunts were burgled, so I’ve got the only one.

    What we use every day – Nan’s kitchen china. Which is the remains of an old Royal Doulton set, plus a heap of mismatched pieces I keep a look out for. Most of them have chips, but I love them dearly.

    Everytime I wear, touch or see any of these things, I’m reminded of it’s history and of how lucky I am.

    I could keep going, but it might get tedious for everyone else! Thank you for this topic – so many great memories in it.

  • anne aka SpyGirl

    Ah gee, I wrote a rather long response and then it didn’t go through. Gah!

    My boyfriend and I are attached to way too many things, including garments. Our house belongs in the Hoarders Hall of Fame or Infamy.

    IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) had a project of writing a haiku inspired by a favorite fashion item. During my previous session of typing, I figured out I’ll do some more of that to items in the “things I’ve outgrown” heap and then LET THEM GO. Ah. I’m feeling better already.

    I also like to get vacation wearables, mainly in the form of silver rings. I can look down at my hands any time and reminisce.

  • Katharine T

    My grandma died almost a year ago and I inherited some things from her that have a special meaning when I wear them: a few pairs of earrings, some lovely silk scarves, and a totally fabulous wool cape. (Side note: capes are the best thing ever and I don’t know why they ever went out of style.)

    But when I think about “emotional wardrobe” actually the pieces that have the MOST significance for me are not heirlooms but gifts: the burnt orange sweater my sister gave me, because she knows me better than I know myself and picked a color I never would have guessed would suit me. Or the ring I wear every day that was a gift from my parents when I turned 21.

  • Grace

    I have a Burberry carmel coat, which was a gift to my mom. i could bought that when I came back from UK to South Korea finishing my degree there. The coat was on 70 % off sale, thus, affordable for a poor graduate student’s budget. It was my mother’s favourite cut and color and she loved it very much.

    But when I gave it to her she was on 6th, the last chemotheraphy for her cancer. She officially owned it for 6 months and had just one wear before passed away in uncontrollable pain. I am keeping the coat and wear it for 20 years after her death. I will wear it this winter as well. It is classic, nice and warm AND fashionable still(Remember the camels we have last year?).

    I live with my mother-in-law and she loved this coat and asked me to give it too her. I said no, of course, but she has coveted it for several years, may be until now. Horrible, isn’t it? (FUI, in Korea it is rather common to live with husband’s side parents. Especially in my region, even though this is a megacity of 2millon people. Funny huh?)

    Heirloom is heirloom regardless of the quality or value pf what ever. They should be honored as long as they have meaning or cherished memory to the owner.Right?

    • Sal

      Oh Grace, I’m so sorry that you lost your mom. My heart goes out to you.

  • LaChina

    Let’s see; an elephant brooch from my maternal grandmother, a handmade knit blanket from my paternal grandmother, 2 necklaces of my mother’s (all are deceased), a Coach make up bag from my little sister, a bracelet from my father, and a beautiful scarf I picked up for $5 in Germany.

  • Cathy

    I loved reading all of this.

    This is a mixed bag for me. My mother saved EVERYTHING, which drove me nuts, and I am only a year out from closing up their house, which had a ton of heirlooms from back to the great-grandparents. But I would like to share a few things without writing a New Yorker essay about it.

    1. My most meaningful sentimental item is a silver ring I bought in Denmark as an exchange student when I was 16 in 1970. It was made and signed by Hans Hansen, cost all of $10, and has caused dozens of people to ask if the stone is missing, because it’s an open oval held by the ring part. For me, it’s a symbol of my identity, bought at a time when everybody else was buying class rings. I wear it every day.

    2. I have lots of jewelry from various family members. I have enjoyed trying to wear it. Often I wear it quite differently from the way my ancestors would have (I have pictorial evidence). I particularly enjoy a multicolored costume bracelet that I remember my grandmother wearing to church with the matching necklace and earrings in the 1960s, and I love wearing her bracelet with 5 heart charms for her grandchildren. My mother’s jewelry is more problematic as it is so much more elegant than I usually am…but see item 3.

    3. I built several sentimental pieces into what I wore to my son’s wedding last year. The dress was purple (brand new, thank you). I wore a vintage choker with leaf-shaped pieces and purple stones and pearl-like stones – no idea whether they are real and don’t care. It was my mother’s. Also her pearl and gold bracelet (definitely real) that I had lengthened (using the matching earrings). AND a small black flowered petit point handbag that my grandmother made and my mother put much effort into getting the appropriate purse fittings for, and I put my own wedding handkerchief in it. My earrings were a present from my husband upon the birth of said son. My husband wore my father’s ring (which was also my grandfather’s).

    4. I kind of wish I still had my Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival t-shirt (1973). It hit the rag collection after about 20 years.

  • Grace again

    Thanks, Sal.

  • Kels

    I have a red silk chiffon dress from the late 50’s that was my grandma’s, she used to wear it when my Papa took her dancing. I’ve worn it once to a dance at Girls State in 11th grade. I was probably the only one not wearing a strapless sequined dress, but I remember feeling so beautiful and grown up. I also have a garnet ring from the same grandma that she gave me on my 13th birthday, which I will always treasure. And then there is a the plaid flannel shirt that was my dad’s. I have fond memories of my dad wearing that shirt making chocolate chip cookies at night while listening to the Twins baseball games on the radio.

  • Jenni

    oh, i am super late to this party but have enjoyed reading these stories. i have several items that qualify but the one that comes most to mind is a jet choker that my father bought for my mother in europe on their honeymoon. supposedly it is jet from the volcanic ash of pompeii? regardless, it’s black and shiny and lovely. but too small for my neck and makes me look like i’ve got my head chopped off, so i never ever wear it. but there it hangs. my parents had a terribly messy divorce and this piece reminds me of when things were good between them – i guess i’m a bit stuck in the past with that but i can’t bear to let it go. it really is a great vintage style and i think once i improve my jewelry alteration skills i may try to lengthen the strand or repurpose the beads.

  • Katie

    My most emotional piece is a pair of Harley Davidson cowboy style boots. I bought them right after finding out that my husband was having an affair. I wear them whenever I need to feel emotionally tougher, and they always do the trick. My second is a pair of floral Doc Maartens. Bought at the same time for the same reason, and they always make me feel less invisible.

  • Elizabeth

    I have an old rugby jersey from the team I was a member of for 13 years… I got to keep “my” number when the team bought a new set of jerseys. That was the team where I met my first husband, and when we got divorced I had to retire from rugby. Over the past few years I have moved twice and each time I do a clothing purge: first it was all the souvenir jerseys I’d bought over the years (tournament jerseys, Irish jersey, Uni jersey, some other ones) and much of the rest of my extensive rugby kit. The last move it was all the old rugby shorts, all so frayed and beat up, and I remember so many hours spent wearing them in games and at practice.

    But I didn’t toss my old jersey. I think I’ll keep it for a while longer, I don’t know why. Probably because it reminds me that those 13 years of rugby really DID happen, despite how different my life is now.

    thanks for reading.

  • Heidi/The Closet Coach

    The timing of this topic is great! I’m in the midst of writing a post for next week on a very similar concept, that of heirloom jewelry. I just inherited some small costume pieces from my grandmother. They’re not all wearable, but each has an interesting story behind it.

    The only clothing I have with any similar ties is a matching sweater and skirt that same grandma knit for me from a pattern in Elle magazine (they used to have them in the back in the ’80s!). I need to figure out how to style them so they are more wearable now–it’s a whole lotta peach and white!

  • Val C-MN

    My mother has passed so I have emotional value to the pieces of jewelry that I own that she gave me. I also have a signature piece that I wear most days in memory of her – a 14K portrait pendant with her facial image scanned onto it. I got that as a way to always keep her “close” to me. I collect her birthstone (aquamarine) and always think of her when I wear it. I also collect crosses in her memory because I buried her with my favorite cross (after which I bought another one just like it for myself). These pieces are my “lucky” pieces for uplifting my spirits and making a day better when I wear them.

    In addition, I have a few pieces of her favorite clothing and a couple of quilts that she made me.

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