Memory is a fickle thing. Example: I’ve never been able to remember lyrics to a song. Not one... single... song.
For instance, every time I sing along to the radio in my car, my subconscious thinks it’s more fun to make up my own lyrics. On the other hand, my long-time boyfriend can remember every song that has ever graced the radio. Because of this, his favorite place to go is the piano bar (a bar with dueling piano players that sing nostalgic songs that the audience sings along to). As you probably guessed, this is my… not-so favorite place to go.
Although my memory (as well as my lack of musical ability) would make me unqualified for a position as a dueling piano player, when it comes to the clothes in my closet, my memory is flawless. I can remember where I bought every item and who I was with. Clothes and memories are interlinked in interesting ways, and today I want to explore those connections.
Discovering the Powerful Connection Between Clothing and Memories
We all have memories associated with the things we wear every day -- in fact, just looking into your closet can trigger a flashback. Today I'll share a couple of examples of items that hold strong memories for me.
Some people hold the memory of graduating college in the outfit they wore during graduation or their class ring, but for me, I remember this accomplishment when I’m wearing my collegiate jacket.
During orientation, I bought a number of items from the university store in typical freshman fashion, but most of the pieces have succombed to cracking graphics, discoloration, pilling, or just getting lost. This jacket, however, looks almost the same as it did the day I bought it.
Every time I wear this jacket, it will bring back memories of Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is what I consider the epitome of a college town, with the Double-T emblem painted on every surface of the city. Businesses brag about being a proud partner with the university and adopt the red and black school colors. On game days, everyone sets up Texas Tech flags in front of their homes and businesses literally painting the town red. Students, alums, and parents walk from their parked cars to the Jones AT&T stadium with half the group yelling “Raider!” and the other half responding, “Power!”
This jacket also reminds me of the amount of effort I've put into obtaining my degree. I spent many late nights studying in the library learning computer languages and poring over textbooks while fiddling around with the thumb holes of my jacket. This left a little damage on the jacket, creating small holes where I tore at the threading due to stress. I’ve always told myself I was going to sew these holes back together but never got around to it.
I wore this jacket as the president of my student organization while putting on my best poker face to hide how nervous I was to speak in front of all my peers. This jacket kept me warm during chilly nights spent at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop with friends, drinking frozen margaritas and laughing at something ridiculous that happened in class the other day.
With so many memories made while wearing this jacket, I can’t help but feel that my college story lingers in its threads.
Last November, I traveled to India for a friend’s wedding and spent three weeks after the event adventuring around the country. (This was my first trip abroad without my parents.) While in Jodhpur, my new friend Deepak was buying candy, pretty trinkets, and women’s clothing from the local shops that lined the city.
Since it seemed a little odd he was buying a colorful purse, I finally asked who he was buying all these items for. “For my family, of course; I have to show my appreciation to all my sisters and parents,” he said enthusiastically. His gift buying didn’t stop in Jodhpur but continued as we went to Jaipur and Mumbai.
I found it incredibly endearing that Deepak wanted to shower his family with gifts. I’ve never been a huge fan of souvenirs myself, but Deepak’s generosity was contagious. Eventually, I was shopping for my closest friends and family as well. My favorite item I purchased in India was a set of matching handmade sterling silver rings with elephants linking their trunks and tails together. I kept one and gave its twin to my only sister.
My sister was beyond thrilled to get her elephant ring, so thrilled that she said she couldn't wait to find out what I was going to get her for Christmas.
When I look at the elephant ring on my hand it serves as a reminder while I’m traveling to think about the ones I love and to take the time to do something thoughtful for them.
Using Clothing as a Device for Good Memories
It may sound cheesy or too sentimental but I enjoy having an emotional connection with my clothing. Unlike other mementos, clothes are things we touch and interact with every day.
In the morning, I might throw on a pair of tennis shoes and remember hiking in them down the South side of the Grand Canyon, or I’ll wear a crossbody bag that brings back memories of Spring Break at South by Southwest.
We have so many thoughts throughout the day and most of the mine center around stressing out about relationships, finances, career, or something that will be irrelevant a week from now. This is why having this physical connection that reminds me to think about the good experiences in life is so important.
What Do You Think?
Do you have memories associated with your clothing? If you do, we want to hear from you. Tell us your story below in the comments!