Fashion is personal. You have the opportunity to distil who you are from that giant list of suggestions of what to wear, what not to wear, and endless parades of “what is in.”
Take a deep breath.
“You know what? I don’t think I like that. Even if it is supposed to make my personality impressive.”
It can feel a bit overwhelming. There is a massive amount of scrutiny out there. The fashion industry is visual, therefore judgement is passed on the visual you project. Based on that, why not try and fully put out who you truly are and what you truly love, because if someone will you judge you on it, at least may it be the real you.
Please take all criticism with a grain of salt, especially if the fashion icon is holding a teddy bear likeness of himself: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” ― Karl Lagerfeld
That is what the purpose of fashion sites and magazines should be. To present you with visual stimulus, suggestions, and inspiration! But despite all of these informative and inspiring articles, people will still chose to wear clothing that carries personal meaning. There will always be that one piece that will transcend any suggestions. It will be worn for the deep emotional meaning that transcends any fashion rule.
The Family Heirloom: A Little Piece of Joe
Annette Klochan and Joe Kohut met at a dance in 1941. It was in Toronto, Canada. They were both kids who came from out west, both Ukrainian. Both from farming families. But before any of this was discovered in conversation Annette knew for sure that Joe was one handsome looking Air Force man!
My grandmother Annette posing by grandfather’s plane (he navigated Lancaster bombers).
My grandparents dated for three years during the most turbulent period of World War II. After two years stationed in various places in Canada, my grandfather was shipped of to the UK.
There is a certain desperation in war time. Couples making promises under the possibility that the soldier might not return, spontaneous proposals, and various other romantic stories. My grandmother and grandfather loved each other, but before my grandfather left for England he refused to fall into a promise he could not keep. Although they loved each other, they did not get engaged before he left. He did not want to leave my grandmother a widow, he just didn’t think it was fair.
Under the Clock with Judy Garland. One of the most epic WWII love stories ever. Siiiiiiiiigh.
While away he wrote to my grandmother nearly every day. And one day without warning one of those letters contained an engagement ring. My grandfather was always certain that he wanted to marry my grandmother on his return, and this was the perfect way to ensure that. The ring was hand crafted in London. Originally it had two rubies on either side of the central diamond.
My grandfather’s return unfortunately took longer than expected. He was nearly mortally wounded while navigating a bombing raid over Germany. But after a long recovery and with his distinguished flying cross on his uniform, he was finally able to return home.
My grandparents dated for three years, two of which consisted of letter writing only. After a two year absence my grandfather came home and they were married a week later. In this day and age of waiting to get to know someone, testing the waters, etc, this seems almost unfathomable. I asked my grandmother if she was nervous or felt that it would have been good to spend a bit more time together first, and she smiled and said, “I never really thought of that, I guess it does sound a bit crazy. Maybe we should have?” Hindsight more than 60 years later.
My grandmother and her engagement ring. The central diamond is original, but the two on either side of the middle were originally rubies.
My grandmother and grandfather had their ups and downs as most couples do. They had three beautiful children. My grandfather saw the creation and ultimate disintegration of his air surveying company. They worked through the many hardships and joys that life brings. With every memory made that ring became an even deeper symbol of what exactly they had created together. Unfortunately, in 1984 my grandfather died of a massive heart attack. It took the entire family by surprise and (as most deaths are) was a huge tragedy.
My grandmother never remarried. She had found the love of her life and being with someone new just never felt right. Every time she looked down at her finger she saw that little piece of them. That had made it through all those years, and that had become as much a part of the two of them as their flesh and bone.
A few years ago while cleaning the house from top to bottom, my grandmother lost the central diamond on the ring. It was devastating moment. It was like one more part of her life with my grandfather had been chipped away and lost. She didn’t even know where to start. She had changed all the sheets on the beds, vacuumed, and cleaned the washrooms. It could have been anywhere. As she absentmindedly wandered back into her room, deep in thought, trying to figure out a strategy, something shimmered and caught her eye. There in the middle of her queen sized bed, as though it had been placed there, was the diamond she had lost.
The things we wear only carry with them the memories we associate with them. They have the power to be reminders of the people we care about. They become an inseparable piece of who we are, small but undeniable pieces of proof of our very identity.
For my grandmother it was proof of something she very simply wrote on the back of an early photo of the two of them: I loved Joe and he loved me.