Clothing and Chronicles

(Photo courtesy of Hannah Darrow)

Clothing and Chronicles

By Hannah Darrow

Before writing this article, I really thought about why people loved vintage items so much. What is it that makes these kinds of things stand out? Then it hit me – all these older pieces were part of a past story, and this really intrigues people.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to head down to San Juan Capistrano with my best friend. I’ve never really been into antique stores, but she loves them, so we went to check one out. I was not very impressed until she spotted a few boxes full of postcards from the early and mid 1900’s. We started reading letters, now losing their color and newness, and came across so many stories. One family was writing back to their loved ones while in Hawaii. One man gave updates to his sister on the health of his dad. My favorite one in the box was a postcard with a painting of a beautiful beach on the front, and the words, “It’s a great life” on the back.

Lots of people love antique stores because of this very thing: everything in the store tells a story from the past. Everything leaves some sort of legacy.

Before my senior prom, my mom let me try on one of her prom dresses, as she told me stories from her high school days. She smiled as she looked at me in the velvet black dress and reminisced of a simpler time. This single article of clothing instantly reminded her of her past.

A few weeks back, my grandma showed me her closet full of vintage jackets she has collected through the years. She is very generous and asked me if I wanted to have one. I said I didn’t need any more jackets, but then she brought out a “Planet Hollywood” denim jacket from 30 years ago. I tried it on and she smiled and told me I had to have it. During these thirty years of her life, this jacket has been with her through it all. When my dad was sick as a teenager, during her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband, after her first grandchild was born, this jacket was hanging in her closet. Now here I was, her first grandchild almost 20 years old herself, wearing it. I realize now why it made her so excited. I wore it out with family one night last week and I heard my grandpa say, “Hey! I recognize that jacket!” I get to carry on the legacy of this jacket, and it forever will mean a lot to me.

Vintage items can remind us of a past, simpler time. They can flood our minds with memories with one glance or be a great platform for our parents or grandparents to tell us a story. These can be items we hold near and dear to our heart. What my grandma’s denim jacket to me might be a necklace passed down in your family for you.

It’s always interesting to hear stories of the past, and you may be surprised with a story you had not heard of before. It was such an amazing opportunity for me to listen to some of my grandmas’ stories while holding her jacket in my hands. I want to encourage you to ask some of your family members the story behind the dress they’ve had since you were born, the trinkets on the counter that you always overlook, or the necklace your grandma wears. The stories they tell will give you a glimpse into a life before your time.