A couple months ago, a dress came into the store where I work that I had owned in high school. Putting it on completely dragged me back to years ago, when my hair was much shorter and I spent a lot of time reading Anaïs Nin and watching Nouvelle Vague films.
I’d loved that dress so much, and then I’d sold it, convinced I’d never wear it again, when I gained a cup size after going on the Pill. I re-bought my dress, of course, and I wear it all the time now.
It made me reflect on all the clothes that have fallen by the wayside in my life. You know how it is: you lose them in a move, you leave them on the bus, you break up with your significant other and forget to grab your stuff on the way out. You give them away, you sell them, you lend them and never get them back. It’s the opposite of the sentiment Neruda describes in “Ode to Clothing.” Instead of being there reliably on the chair, full of possibility, they’re never to be seen again.
Long, long ago (in a galaxy, etc. etc.) I left a coral Gap cardigan on the 52 bus inbound from Forest Hill Station. That was a fantastic cardigan. It was a great shade of pink, a color that I normally hate and avoid at all costs. I looked awesome in it. Also left on various busses: a thrifted Eiffel Tower souvenir wallet that was color-blocked leather and held forty dollars and a MUNI pass; a pair of knee-high Banana Republic riding boots that I found for ten bucks at Thriftown and wore until the soles were falling off; countless scarves and gloves; and an adorable, perfectly Madeline-esque straw hat with a black ribbon.
The hats! Oh, I’ve lost so many hats. There was an adorable red baseball cap left on a beach in Hawaii, along with an amazing pair of earrings from India that fell out of my ears in the ocean. There was the perfect black, ribbed, angora-blend beanie that I left on the floor of a house somewhere on Judah Street where a British boy I had followed home from a bar was staying. And there was the wide-brimmed vintage fedora I swiped from a boyfriend that carried me through many college speakeasy-themed parties, vanished while moving from one Brooklyn apartment to another.
Sometimes I know where my clothing is, but I can’t get it back. There is an incredible cashmere Alexander Wang tiger intarsia cardigan, which I purchased at what I think was the first ever sample sale he had. I stalked that sweater at Barneys, praying it would get discounted, and finding it at the sale was a Hallelujah moment. A true example of fashion magic. That sweater is in the possession of an ex-boyfriend, and I may have said he could have it, though I didn’t mean it, simply to avoid the awkwardness of trying to retrieve it. But I miss it, and I think about it often. (The same goes for an Old Navy peacoat I got for my fifteenth birthday, which is the rattiest thing but no coat has ever fit that perfectly since.)
Admittedly, I am the kind of person that keeps a Word document listing every article of clothing I own. Actually, I don’t know if this is a “type” of person, or if I just do this and am the only strange person on the planet to do so. (It’s very satisfying, though. And helpful when packing.) So I have a lot of attachment to my clothing, both practical and emotional. (I spent such-and-such amount of money on it, and also I wore it to that Girls concert where Chris Owens said “Excuse me.”) But I can’t be the only person that has lamented items with imaginary epitaphs like, “Lent to the girl who lived next door and never returned,” and “Left behind in that Target shopping cart.” Can I?