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The other day I was going through my closet, looking for clothes I already own that I can mix and match to make new outfits. In the process of trying them on and looking for things to pair together in other ways, I was reminded of when I bought them. 

Like the yellow, Chinese cheongsam blouse I bought in San Francisco, soon after I’d been chased out of a store on Stockton Street by a man wielding a meat cleaver.

My cheongsam blouse has seen better days. I’ve had it since my early twenties, and I’ve worn it hundreds of times, usually with blue jeans. Each time I put it on, I think about the man with the meat cleaver and how he’d lunged at me from behind the counter as I photographed the row of headless ducks in his window.  

“Not in store! Not in store,” he’d screamed. From what I gathered, I’d insulted their dignity, although from my perspective, the insult was being displayed naked and headless in a window.

Then there’s the blue fur scarf I bought in Sienna, Italy. Instead of a row of headless ducks, I saw this beautiful scarf in a window. I’d been on my way to see the Rolling Stones in Lucca, and because it was an outdoor concert, and the temperature was sure to be cool, I decided it would be a smart purchase, and it was.

You can tell by my selfie on the train to Lucca that I was excited to see the Stones, again. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen them, and yes, I have a ticket to see them in Austin, next month. I know there will be lots of collective tears, many of them mine, because Charlie Watts won’t be there. 

Then there’s the red skirt I found wedged in the back of my closet. I bought it in a boutique in Fredericksburg, Texas, shortly after I finished chemotherapy for breast cancer. I love the row of ruffles and roses and the way it laces up and ties in the back like a corset. It’s a happy skirt! So different from anything I’d ever worn. I was more tailored in those days and wore lots of business suits. Not long after I bought it, I wore this skirt to a Fourth of July party at a neighbor’s ranch where I drank margaritas and ate brisket, potato salad and beans and gave thanks I was still here. I’m looking forward to wearing this skirt, again, hopefully to celebrate the end of Covid. 

Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

I wonder what he would say about today’s fashions and the way men and women dress? In his day, Twain was considered a fashion icon. His most well-known fashion quirk was his white suits. It’s said he had fourteen of them. One for each day so he never had to wear a dirty or rumpled suit.

Mark Twain would have loved Charlie Watts. Charlie was rumored to have five hundred bespoke suits. He never dressed like a rockstar.

How has your style changed over the years? I’d love to hear about your memories of your favorite clothes.

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  1. This is hilarious! And sweet. You had me at meat cleaver. You do deadpan one paragraph and pathos in the next. Never the Twain shall meat! Lol! Xx Deb

  2. MY STYLE REALLY HASNOT CHANGED MUCH OVER THE 61 years…………..of course now there are pieces I love but feel I am not the right age to wear!
    Yesterday I wore leggings FOR THE FIRST TIME with a long matching TUNIC.I felt ODD…………I am not a LEGGING GAL.Fine if they are covered underneath a CAFTAN or long MAXI DRESS but not showing.Legs give away AGE.Have you ever noticed that?Especially the knee CAPS!I believe its NOT MY BEST LOOK!
    STOCKTON STREET and a MEAT CLEAVER…………HA!I got a question wrong on my first Drivers License TEST due to that STREET!The question was is DOUBLE PARKING ALLOWED?MY ANSWER WAS YES as my Mind went right to STOCKTON STREET.That was how we entered UNION SQUARE back in the DAY after driving across the Golden Gate Bridge!

    • Elizabeth, You looked great in those leggings! You’re just not used to them. The tunic was still in keeping with your caftan look and your legs don’t show, so don’t worry about the age thing. I think you should continue with leggings. It’s just new to you. I think we always have a hard time getting used to new trends. LOL! Stockton Street has memories for both of us! xoxox, Brenda

  3. You have me thinking about a dress I let my girlfriends talk me into. It’s too loud. Not something I would have picked. When I see it in my closet I think about my friends. What a fun day. Xo Barb

    • Barbara, That’s why I don’t like to shop with girlfriends. We have such different tastes in almost everything, and it’s easy to be swayed into buying something you won’t wear or use. But the memories are good!! xoxo, Brenda

  4. Another fabulous post! My immediate thoughts go back to the high heels, neck scarves and structured jackets in the corporate world. Now I’ve retreated to the love of black everything with the love of animal print, the color yellow and gold in lipstick, belts, shoes and jewelry accessories.

    Charlie will be in Austin, watch for the signs. Oh I hope he will be anyway!


    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your note! I’ve left the structured corporate pieces behind as well and have gravitated toward black and animal prints as well. We’re sounding more and more like doppelgängers. Are you wearing yellow and gold lipsticks? A bit confused about that one. LOL! Yes, I’ll be watching for Charlie My Darling. (The name of a documentary about the Rolling Stones.) xoxox, Brenda

  5. Love that Cheongsam blouse, too. I have a similar black and gold brocade one I last wore to a wedding. It is probably 25 years old but a classic I keep in case we ever go out to a place that requires more than a shirt and shoes. I finally threw out 30 year old grey leather ankle boots that rotted.

    Love the red skirt, too. Know I couldn’t carry it off like you.

    My favorite all time clothing was what I called Guatemalan Peasant.

    • Lee, For the most part, “Carrying off a look” is as much a mindset as anything. If you think you look good in it, you will. It’s the way you carry yourself and the image you project. That said, I see a number of women on Instagram whose style I love but couldn’t pull off because I don’t have their silver avant guard hairstyles. xoxo, Brenda

  6. Lovely post that resonates with us all. Swell red skirt!
    I’m not a saver except for one special dress. In 1968 I was a 20 year old model in NY with the Stewart/Plaza 5 agency which was having the first ‘model of the year’ contest (before Ford copied the idea). It was for girls from all the US who did not have an agency in NY.
    I was not making much money, still… it was a very big deal and I knew I had to have something outstanding. I went to all the big stores and finally found a dress at Bonwit’s. A new designer called Jon Haggins. Today it might be called a naked dress. It was a prim black organza mini dress. The top composed of two long ruffles beginning far apart at the waist, rising to cover each breast and that then tied around the neck like an apron. I had to maintain my best posture all evening otherwise the top would float away and expose my body. It was divine.
    It remains in my closet, the organza shredding in places. I cannot believe how tiny it was, how tiny I was. A beautiful memento of a moment of me long ago.

    • Hi Candace, Wow!! What a dress! On one hand you call it a “prim mini dress” then if I’m understanding you, the two long ruffles were all that was covering your breasts. Yes. Don’t lean over to pick anything up in that dress. You must have been fabulous looking to wear a dress like that. Brava! xoxo, Brenda

  7. My favorite clothes have memories attached.,Loved this story so much. I also an admirer of Mark Twain. He certainly was a rock star during his lifetime. Not to mention his wonderful autobiography that will live forever ( like some of my clothes!!

    • Love your comment, Sandra! Someone else who has memories about your favorite clothes. Actually I think I could do a post each week about the memories I have of my clothes and never run out of things to say. Other than Mark Twain and Tom Wolfe, I can’t think of anyone else who always wore white suits, can you? xoxox, Brenda

  8. Memories, indeed. I am the total opposite of a fashion dresser, but I will buy one or two T-Shirts or sweatshirts. per vacation and they become my souvenirs. Florida…Iowa (for a wedding, and that’s how I ended up with a Field of Dreams T-Shirt), an Arkansas Razorbacks shirt, shirts of a couple of Civil War battlefields, a Florida state park, a North Carolina arboretum. They all bring back memories for me.

    • Hi Alana, I have some of those clothes as well. I buy t-shirts at rock concerts and windup wearing them with blue jeans or black leather pants. I even have a shelf full of rocks and seashells I’ve found, and remember something about almost every one. xoxo, Brenda

  9. Love the skirt! You have had some adventures shopping. I would always think of the meat cleaving fellow when I wore that pretty blouse. I have fond memories of some shoes that I wore that I never found a replacement for any of them.

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