The theory of “enclothed cognition” provides support for the idea that wearing clothes can re-activate memories that influence how we think, feel and act. Because of this clothing has life-changing potential. In her wonderful book, “Worn Stories”, Emily Spivak uses a piece of clothing as a storytelling device and reveals how an article of clothing creates wearable memoirs for the person who owns and saves them. She inspires me to tell you a story about a favorite grey piece.
My memorable piece of grey clothing is a lambswool jacket that belonged to my grandmother. Notes of Je Reviens perfume by Worth linger and the jacket hangs exactly the same way on my small, slim body as I remember it hanging on her. Ironically after “forgetting” about this coat for many years a few months ago I found it in my closet and kept it out for cleaning and repair. I look at it often these days, particularly now that I have started this new life adventure of becoming the Accidental Icon. My grandmother had this coat custom made (her name is embroidered inside) shortly after she left her rather ordinary (to her) suburban life when my grandfather died. Appalling to her daughters at the time, she sold her home in Wilton Connecticut and joined her two widowed sisters in a revisiting of the cosmopolitan lifestyle they had enjoyed as young women.
During this time she indulged her great love of clothing and travel. Making the calculations I see that she was the same age as I am now. She was especially enamored with Japan, always bringing me back sumptuously dressed geisha dolls, tiny glass perfume bottles and books of watercolors covered in onionskin. I always knew I was like my grandmother, as she offered the only example of an educated, rebellious woman in our family. Now feeling the grey coat on my shoulders, her courage seeps into my bones. I hear her whisper delightedly that my re-imagination as Accidental Icon (who loves urban living, clothes and Japanese designers) is an adventure she would love me to take.