My paternal grandmother died last week at the age of 93. In many ways, she was one of my greatest style influences.
She was always dressed well. She had an eye for coordination. Everything she wore was part of an ensemble, not just a couple of garments thrown together.
Like many who grew up during the Depression–she was 18 in 1936–she learned the value of a value. She never spent a dollar more than she had to, so she was thrifting long before it was cool, or before “vintage” had entered mainstream fashion vocabulary. We joked that she bought everything at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, but you’d never believe the outfits she assembled from the things she bought there.
She was not a wearer of labels, but she was impeccably dressed. Her wardrobe was extensive. When she moved into an assisted living apartment, she insisted on taking the biggest unit they had–because it had the most closet space. She had warm weather clothes and cold weather clothes and she rotated them between her main and secondary closets.
She was an expert knitter, too. When I was in high school in the ’80s, Elle magazine used to carry knitting patterns in the back and one year I entreated her to make me the matching collared sweater and knit skirt outfit I fell in love with. We picked out the peach and white yarns and she made it all for me. I wonder how many hours that took? I have them both still.
If I can be half as put together in my lifetime as my grandma was in hers, I will consider myself well dressed indeed.