Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dressing Up

My grandmother influenced many of my interests--genealogy, history, poetry. I just realized that she probably also influenced my love of clothes. I wish I had written down the details of all the dresses she described to me.  All I remember are the names of the fabrics: shantung, georgette, tulle, voile. I guess since the advent of ready-to-wear clothing and synthetic materials, the lovely names of fabrics have become obscure to us.  I don't even see the wedding announcements anymore. Remember?  The ones that used to say, "The bride wore a gown of ivory peau de soie with an overlay of Chantilly lace."

I don't remember what my grandmother wore at her wedding.  I know she told me, but I just don't remember.  I remember that my grandfather wore a blue serge suit, whatever serge is.  ("A twilled cloth of worsted or worsted and wool, often used for suits" says the Free Online Dictionary.)

I know what colors my aunts are wearing in this great old black-and-white photo taken just about 100 years ago.  My grandmother is wearing dark blue, my Aunt Georgia is wearing red, my great-grandmother is wearing dark green with black velvet facings, and Aunt Jessie, the baby, is wearing dotted Swiss, another great old fabric.  (My prom dress was mint green dotted Swiss.)

Clockwise, from top: my grandmother, Fannie Castle;
her mother, Florida Day Castle; her baby sister, Jessie Castle;
her sister, Georgia Castle

You don't even hear the names of fabrics from my growing-up years anymore. In the 1960s there was madras.  That was a great fad.  It was this plaid fabric from India, worn by both girls and boys.  If you had the real thing, it bled in the wash.  Why this was cool I don't know, but it was.  There was seersucker--a great spring and summer fabric that even men wore in suits.  There was chambray. Everybody had a chambray shirt to wear with their jeans.  I embroidered matching ones for me and my boyfriend.

Embroidery was my thing, because it sure wasn't sewing.  If I had had one bit of talent in art or clothing construction, I probably could have been a fashion designer. I had all these outfits in my head.  Instead I took Home Economics in 7th grade, and I'm pretty sure I drove my teacher to despair.  I guess it's a good thing we don't have to make our own clothes anymore, or I would have to stay home a lot.

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