Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Can't Change My (Men's Wear) Stripes

My trip to Chicago was surprisingly Proustian, upon reflection. The city itself reminded me of Ottawa, Toronto's tidier cousin (as is Chicago to New York), and the Brunello vitrine display yesterday transported me back to my graduate school style (though I promise that my grad school trousers were well under $1000).

In Barneys I moved from the beautiful but extravagant laser-cut-red-leather Alaia iPad case to the men's floor, where Mr. C and our son were browsing. (My 8-year-old-son learned from the sales associate not to go within breathing distance of the sunglasses case, I heard afterwards.) Had I known before, I might not have been so quick to pounce on a piece of rolled-up fabric I saw in the rolled-up scarf basket. But grab it I did, because the fabric was so enticing to me.

The scarf is utterly simple: it's a long gauzy slice of cotton, with fringed edged. Pale blue and white stripes stretch from end to end, and it's just the right amount of shabby chic coupled with flattering summer colour combination.  I bought it, and when I showed it to my family at dinner, my fashion police officer son said that it looked like a rag I had at home already. (He meant a dish towel, though I still can't figure out which one.)

Rag or not, dish-ready or not, this men's wear scarf called to me because, I realize, I have a history or wearing exactly these colours and design from men's departments.  When I was in Grade 11, I bought, during summer vacation, a coveted piece of Ralph Lauren attire. (This was in the early 1980s, and Ralph Lauren was as rare on my little island as moose.  Skunks were plentiful, though.)

At the Henderson & Cudmore Haberdashery (the schwankiest men's department of an upscale shop for ladies and gents) I saw a pale blue-and-white seersucker bathrobe embellished with a blazing red polo pony amid the displays of cologne and handkerchiefs.

I put it on hold, perhaps even layaway, and worked away at my summer job (I was waiting lunch tables during the day at the Confederation Centre of the Arts and working front-of-house for the Summer Festival, which produced the Anne of Green Gables musical at night). 

I wore that robe through my Grade 12 year, through my years at an undergraduate university and, even when it was falling apart, into my grad school years, I loved its colours so. (The polo pony, which made such an impact initially, eventually faded from favour; I'd probably patch over one or try to remove the stitching today.)

So, in homage to Mr. Proust, perhaps I should title my sartorial memoir In Remembrance of Things Bath-robe.


LPC said...


I agree, seersucker is both desirable and evocative:).

materfamilias said...

M. Proust should def. have put you in charge of titles. I love that scarf and love that it comes pre-charged with memory, to which you will add more through the restof your life together . . ..