I often write about my mother and her fashionable influence over me but it’s time I tip my hat to Dad. After my parents’ divorce when I was six, he was the one who took me clothes shopping.
We lived in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco and a few times a year my dad and I would walk over to Chestnut Street heading straight for the local kids boutique called The Little Shop. He’d hand me over to the young saleslady and together we’d choose outfits. I tried them on and enjoyed giving a mini fashion show for Dad. I recall a tweed skirt in lemon yellow with a matching turtleneck and always a new velvet dress for the winter holidays. One time we were shopping for a road trip to Carmel and he asked the saleslady, who might have been in her 30s, if she’d like to come along. And she did, sharing a room with me of course, not my father.
My dad also enjoyed his own fashion, choosing a preppy casual look and always a classic suit when appropriate. I think of him in khakis with a white Oxford shirt, a navy blue cashmere sweater, and desert boots. He liked tradition and was a stickler for good manners, particularly table manners. For family dinners he would put on what he called his “dinner jacket”, which was a simple corduroy sport coat and my brothers and I were taught to place the napkin on our laps as soon as we were seated.
When I was old enough, eight maybe, Dad began taking me with him to fine restaurants, the theater, and traveling. In those days one dressed up to go out so I had to have nice clothes. On our big European trip when I was 12, we shopped at Harrods in London for a dress and coat. I chose a very 40s looking navy blue dress with short, slightly puffy sleeves, full skirt and a white patent leather belt. The coat was a beautiful navy blue wool, trim fit with white piping. (Seems my dad and I had a thing for navy blue.)
By the time I got to high school I shopped for myself but Dad was still interested and I showed him all my purchases. Thinking back, I bet he probably wasn’t so fond of my New Wave look with pink baggy pants and 60s snake-skin shoes but as long as I didn’t don such an outfit for a family dinner, he never said a word. I think he simply enjoyed the show.
I continue to enjoy it, now for both of us. Thanks Dad, for furthering my fashionable ways.
Happy Father’s Day!