11 August 11th, 2017
We grow up surrounded by clothes and objects, and sometimes our families share their stories on special occasions. I spoke with four people to find out why we carry certain objects and old clothes through life, and to understand if those items bring memories, nostalgia or tension in their families.
In a house inhabited by four women, the dressers have always been full of clothes. Vica, the big sister in the family, remembers that cleaning up those dressers was routine. Although part of the clothes were donated, most of them ended up forgotten in the attic.
Over time, Vica has kept some items that had sentimental value and she has brought them to Bucharest where she now lives.
“This is my first Romanian traditional blouse”. Vica started wearing it in high school. Since then, she has always kept it in her cabinet. She remembers that her grandmother, Verona, had worked for one whole winter to make it.
“At some point, my mother realized that someone was wearing grandma’s clothes and she was overjoyed. Her reaction was not something I expected. I was living under the impression that she would punish me and my sisters if we were to even touch those traditional blouses, because everything on them is hand made and they’re very expensive. I am so proud to wear a traditional blouse because I can feel my grandmother’s work in every detail – how she spent the whole winter sewing, bead by bead. I really need to thank her for that, she is my model of determination. Her name was Verona but we used to call her Veronica.”
A string of beads. Vica used to wear a lots of beads around her neck during high school. She inherited them from her grandmother and she remembers that she used to wear them just to test or copy her grandmother’s attitude. “I didn’t know at that time how to wear them with grace, I was too little.”
A traditional black comforter. The item is 30 years old and Vica wears it like a scarf, mostly paired with a black leather jacket.
A salvaged part of a tote. Her grandmother from her father’s side, Viorica, gave a little handmade tote to each of her grandchildren as a keepsake. Vica was the only one who wore it for many years. Now there’s only part of it left because the tote has been eaten by moths over time.
“My sisters kept the totes in special bags like in a museum. They look as new but I do not regret that mine is broken. I used it so I could give it new life, and when I look at pictures of me over the years, I realize the tote was beside me through many special moments”.
Two jackets. Her mom used to wear them when she was 17 or 18 years old. The items were bought from consignment shops in Romania. Vica loved them for the fabrics and the custom made tailoring. She remembers that she started wearing them as a freshman in College.
A 90s skirt her mother used to wear at the seaside, together with a white shirt and sunglasses. Vica kept that image in her mind, and she started wearing it almost the same way during the summer at the seaside. Now, Vica needs to change the elastic and to repair some parts of the broken fabric.
The vest from her father’s groomsman suit. It no longer has the original buttons and the back of the vest has been sewn over because it was broken up over time. Vica said she looked at her family’s photos from the wedding ceremony and saw her dad wearing a beige suit and her mom a pinkish dress.
For Vica, inheriting clothes means preserving memories and discovering what’s beyond them. Her inheritance is based on those stories and the moments that made her rediscover her family.
Photo credit: Bogdan Ioniță