“Inheriting clothes has a great deal of emotional value, because someone intentionally and carefully preserved those items for you”

August 18th 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.


“I have truly dear memories of my mother ever since my childhood, even though I was raised by my grandparents. I used to spend my time with her during weekends, holidays or vacations. I remember our walks through the city, the taste of ice cream and all the clothes she bought for me.”

Cosmina’s mother had always been interested in clothes and she grew attached to the one she bought. Today, Cosmina has the same kind of interest and she has started wearing the clothes her mom wore in her youth.

A part of her clothes inheritance:

A pair of shoes her mother received as a gift 26 years ago. They were given to her by the mother of her husband-to-be, now Cosmina’s grandmother. Her name was Profira and she was a physiotherapist in Eforie Sud, Romania. At that time, many foreign patients would come there for treatment just because it was cheaper than other countries. Patients would give her chocolates, jeans and clothes as gifts. That’s how she got the pair of shoes, but they were one size too small for her and Cosmina’s mother was happy to have them.

“It’s a nightmare wearing them for the whole day, but I cannot give them up, they are so beautiful. This pair of shoes brings back summer memories about moments spent with my mother on the sea cliff at sunset. It took awhile for me to convince her that is my time to wear them.”

A plaid skirt. Cosmina’s mother had a large costume collection, made of jackets and skirts. She bought them from a store located in Constanta, Romania, a sort of designer house. A jacket with a round collar is was part of the ensemble, but Cosmina says she’s too young to wear it as a whole.

“I still have this picture in my mind, wirth her at the office, wearing this skirt, heels, walking from one office to another with all kinds of papers in hand. The skirt gave her a professional look, different from the one at home, when she was making pancakes or washing dishes.”

A pink shirt her mother got 26 years ago from a neighbour, in Galati, Romania. Her neighbour was married to a German guy and she would regularly bring back clothes from his hometown. Cosmina says her apartment building in Galati was once a close-knit community and the neighbours were open to helping each other and sharing clothes and other goods. Nobody lives there anymore, and people from our generation have moved to other cities or other countries.

The black skirt which first helped Cosmina become aware that her mother was indeed a woman.

“I was in first grade and my mom took me with her to buy groceries. At one point in the store, a guy started to look at my mom and her skirt. I felt he had a weird look and I remember wondering – why is that man looking at my mom? She is my mom, only mine, not his. Hey, stop looking like that at my mom!”

A cream blouse. Cosmina associates that blouse with some summer mornings, some walks by the seaside and with the feelings of jealousy at that time because she could not wear that blouse the way her mother did.

A pair of trousers bought from a fair. Cosmina remembers that she wasn’t very skinny at that time and that she was a little bit frustrated she couldn’t wear the kind of clothes her mother did Now, Cosmina managed to lose weight and she brought part of her mom’s wardrobe in her closets.

The disco shirt which Cosmina’s mother used for Saturday night parties. She doesn’t remember the story behind it, though.

Cosmina do not only receives the clothes, she receives those memories, feelings, and she needs to keep them safe for the next generation. A sort of family history through clothes.“Inheriting clothes has a great deal of emotional value, because someone intentionally and carefully preserved those items for you.” 

Photo credit: Simona Petrică