Columnist Susan Wozniak: Fabrics in the Fall of Life

Posted: 09/28/2021 17:04 PM

I have lived on the 42nd parallel all my life and have always enjoyed the transition from summer to fall. This year’s change is different from past changes.

The pandemic is partly to blame, but so is age. I’m old enough to remember that the white shoes were ordered out of sight after Labor Day. The many explanations for this rule usually involve a wealthy woman leaving her Newport home because the season was over. She returned to town with her white shoes in her luggage where they would stay until spring. However, one story traces the custom back to the 18th century.

For my part, I just love the way the color shows up in each season. As the darkness of winter fades and spring rolls in, nothing is more refreshing than unwrapping the roses and persimmons that are the backbone of my warm-weather wardrobe. Gauze and veils are welcome as black, purple and red woolens are washed and put away.

But, fall, especially here in New England, features its own seasonal fireworks. Oranges and olives, browns and reds, yellows and purples explode across the landscape. Maybe imitating the rich wasn’t the reason we had to put away the white shoes. Maybe it was the desire to frolic with Mother Nature.

Yesterday, I washed the dress I wore most often this summer: a loose fit in hot pink gauze that’s too bright and too ethereal to wear as the sunlight mellows.

But, like I said, this year is different from previous years. I was unable to choose my own age for retirement, due to the still unpopular and uncontrollable situation. For the most part, after that first year’s spring trip to dry cleaning for coats and blazers, and hand washing for skirts and sweaters, the majority of clothes remained in the bedroom closet. Due to good thrift stores, gifts, and a few one-off sales, I have developed a more casual way of dressing that suits a woman in the fall of her life.

A long time ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom, I started sewing. Then it seemed that every city with more than 100,000 inhabitants had a fabric store. I was able to follow my tastes in matters. I took lessons. I did what all home quilters and seamstresses do: I entered the contest to determine who dies with the most fabric and wins. Not only do I have too many clothes, I have boxes and boxes of fabrics and unfinished projects. I estimate that I will have to live to be 150 years old to use all the material, although a friend told me she would not finish until she was 213!

This fall I’m wearing the duplicates – after all, who needs six black skirts, even though the hems are different lengths and the fabrics aren’t the same – at a thrift store. Fortunately, when my oldest granddaughter heard about the size, she asked me if I had turtlenecks. I’ll send him four this week.

As for the fabrics, I gave a few pieces that were either of the I-expected variety or that had been ordered through catalogs and then turned out not to be suitable. The annoying part is that the fabric bought for a baby’s quilt is still in her bag, but, maybe a certain little girl who inherited the American Girl doll from her mother will like her to have. a new dress.

At the bottom of the whirlwind of feelings, however, is the acceptance of old age. Over the past few years some of my favorite musicians have died. A cousin was killed by cancer and a friend died of ALS. Another friend told me not to be gloomy, and I replied that I could go out and be hit by a bus. She laughed.

Accepting old age doesn’t mean camping in a recliner, except to take advantage of special early bird offers at restaurants. It is to give up. It really means doing what I love, but giving up crossing your legs. This means making sure I finish projects, whether it’s the quilt for my sofa; rain ponchos for the grandchildren who will be using that large piece of water resistant fabric and this novel that is still only 90 typed pages in a purple folder.

Just like it’s fall in New England, it’s the fall of my life.

Susan Wozniak can be reached at [email protected]


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