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Posts Tagged ‘mother daughter’

Thankfulness and appreciation are always in fashion.

This year I am thankful of course for family and friends, good health, and time (the ultimate luxury). I’m thankful for the opportunities that come my way and for the gift of giving to others.

I’m thankful for this photo of the last Thanksgiving my mother and I spent together in 2019. The following years we couldn’t share any holiday meal because of COVID. I am thankful that I had my mother in my life for as long as I did.

I am thankful for my interest in fashion and style. Something I got from my mother, fashion and style are what sustain me, what inspire me, where I go when life gets to be too much. We all need a place like that.

Wishing ODFL readers a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Summer at Tiffany (Harper Collins Publishers, 2007) is a memoir by Marjorie Hart, music professor, celloist, and former chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of San Diego. Memoirs are often about an interesting slice of a person’s life and this one tells the story of Ms. Hart’s (née Jacobson) summer in 1945 when she and her best friend, Marty, both students at University of Iowa, traveled to New York City to work for the summer.

Initially the two pals thought they would have it made working in the Big Apple. Through sorority sister connections they had a place to stay for the summer and they had heard that getting “shopgirl” jobs was a cinch. After much convincing of their families to let them go, Marjorie and Marty dressed in their best and boarded the train headed for adventure. But upon arrival, they discovered getting a job wasn’t a cinch after all. They were turned away from all the best stores – Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Sacks Fifth Avenue and others. Marjorie asks herself “What was this wild rumor that finding a job in Manhattan was easy?”

Indeed it was no easy task, but once again connections played a role in helping our two heroines land positions as pages at the one and only Tiffany jewelry store on 5th Avenue and E. 57the Street. Wait, it gets better – they are the first women to ever work on the sales floor (WWII is raging and all the men are abroad fighting) AND they are outfitted in custom Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses topped with leather messenger bags to carry the treasures upstairs to either the credit department or the repair department. And so the summer of adventure beings – dinner dates with servicemen, a trip to the ocean, a brush with Elizabeth Taylor, VJ Day in Times Square.

I have to say, crazy at it sounds, it took me some time to warm up to Summer at Tiffany. I started reading it back when it was first published, but I soon put it down. Although well written and lively, I just couldn’t get into it. Fast forward to earlier this year when I was looking for a lighthearted book to read to my mother. I had been reading to Mom for a few years since she could no longer see due to the eye disease Macular Degeneration. I thought this book might appeal to Mom for the era and the jewelry, however, to be honest, I suspect that by then she wasn’t really connecting to much of anything; she just liked the sound of my voice.

This time around I really enjoyed Marjorie and Marty and all the details of Tiffany and how it operated back in the day. I followed with interest Marjorie’s youthful romance with a young gentleman in the Navy and I enjoyed the humorous misadventures that she got into – like the time a strand of pearls broke and ended up on the elevator floor. What I particularly appreciated about the book was its unaffected tone and the transportation back to a more charming time when women dressed up for dates and wrote letters to their families “back home.”

I enjoyed the book so much I kind of savored it, reading it slowly to linger just a bit longer in Marjorie’s world. I read the next to the last chapter the last afternoon I spent with my mother. She was awake, talking and aware, and I was completely unaware that that would be the last time I read to her.

After she died, I brought the book home and it sat on my desk for weeks. I just couldn’t bring myself to read that last chapter. Somehow, for me, coming to the end of the book was to step further away from those days that I sat with my mother reading to her. The End meant the end for us too.

Once I was ready, I did read that last chapter and I read it aloud. Instead of making me feel more apart from my mother, the act of reading aloud helped me to feel connected. I like to think that Mom was listening from wherever she might be now.

Summer at Tiffany is a delightful visit back in time and just the right read for a sunny afternoon under an umbrella in the garden, perhaps sipping a lemonade or a cocktail. (Maybe you’d like to share it with your mom.)

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No one loves you like your mom. Pictured: My mother with me and my brothers – Jimmy in the front and Marshall in the back.

Cindy Marshall died on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

My mother lived, as she would say, a multifaceted life. She was a woman of style, good manners, and a quirky sense of humor. An only child, she was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, but grew up in many places, including China, where her father was an officer in the Navy. After her parents divorced when Mom was ten years old, she and her mother moved to San Francisco. I think she was lonely in those early days; she told me she spent that first cold and foggy summer in SF by herself inside their apartment listening to Flash Gordon on the radio and making paper dolls from images in fashion magazines.

Classical music and opera were important to my mother. She learned about both from her father and when she was in high school she studied voice hoping one day to sing opera. She had a lovely voice, good for operettas, but she thought not strong enough for opera so she gave it up (it was the big stuff or nothing). Still, she’d sing to herself up until the very end of her life. (In fact she was singing along with a Michael Feinstein CD while I sat with her just days before she passed.)

A bit of a loner, Mom followed her own sense of style. In the 1950s, Marin County housewives were wearing shirtwaist dresses with full skirts and shoes with heels, but not my mother. She sported slacks and desert boots, and for a diaper bag she used a bowling ball bag. “It was more interesting,” she told me. That was the era of luncheons, cocktail parties, and evenings out for dinner and dancing. Mom loved all that and had the appropriate attire for every occasion, usually purchased from her favorite department store, I. Magnin. Sometimes she made her clothing, although, she said she didn’t like working with sewing machines and preferred to sew by hand. She was also an avid knitter and once knitted an entire dress.

Mom had three children – Marshall, Jimmy, and me. One of the tragedies in Mom’s life was the loss of her two boys, both of whom left us way too young. It weighed her down with sadness, but she had an admirable inner strength and I know that she also took comfort in our small surviving family.

When I started school, Mom went to work, out of necessity as a divorced single mother but I think also to get back into the wider world. She managed a dentist’s office for many years and then switched to jewelry sales, which was her forte. She worked at Shreve & Co. and then Zales, and eventually she started her own antique jewelry business. Around that time she also reclaimed her maiden name, grew her hair long, went blonde, and shifted from structured handbags to the more fashionable shoulder bags.

There is much to say about my mother. (And I say it in a mother/daughter memoir that I am working on – and one day may even finish.) She was an elegant, complex woman who spent much of her life searching for answers to the big questions. Sometimes when she pondered life, she’d say “What’s this all about?” We weren’t always on the same page, but we were close and we spent a lot of time together. I miss that already. She has always been there, always on my side, always backing me up. Life is a little lonelier now.

My father died just before Father’s Day in 1984 and I still have the card I had planned to give to him. Now, my mother has left just before Mother’s Day 2022. Life is strange.

While I sort through this loss, it’s hard for me to focus. Even fashion, my usual place of joy, feels empty to me. For that reason, I am going to take a break from ODFL. I hope that readers will bear with me and still be there when I return. In the meantime there’s ten plus years of archives to revisit. Also, take a peek at Mom’s Closet (tab at the top), which has posts all about my mother, who inspired this blog.

Rest in peace, Mom. We love you!

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Betye Saar, Harper’s Bazaar.

It seemed like the rule without it being a rule, starting with my sister and me when we were teenagers, that if you want something new to wear, then you had to make it. And I think that theme carried into our adult lives. Even if you find something, then you still take up a hem or add something to make it your own.

Betye Saar, American artist.

This quote is from a conversation with Ms. Saar and her three daughters in Harper’s Bazaar, May 2021.

Ms. Saar has been creating art since the early 1960s and she’s known for prints, collages, and installations that often include found objects.

Making your own clothes is very rewarding. First of all, it’s creative. Also, when you have taken the time and energy to make something you are much more invested in it. There’s no instant gratification, but instead a sense of accomplishment. The best part is that whatever you have created, it’s one of a kind.

I’m also a big fan of changing a new item in some small or big way to make it yours. I do that by changing buttons and I often add a brooch to hats as well as handbags. I also change things for practical reasons, such as taking up the hem on a dress or adding patch pockets to a cardigan sweater. (Who can stand a sweater without pockets?)

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Pearls go with everything and can go anywhere. They’re not too much and not too little but everything you’d ask for in a piece of jewelry.

Cindy Marshall, retired antique jewelry dealer and my mother.

Mom comes out with these little gems every so often. We were chatting on the phone and I mentioned that I’d been wearing her pearl bracelet that she had passed on to me years ago. I hadn’t worn it much, saving it for special occasions until my recent pull toward pearls inspired me to wear this bracelet every day, just because I like it.

It seems I’m not the only person drawn to pearls lately. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs told Harper’s Bazaar that after years of wanting, he finally bought himself a strand of pearls for Christmas last year. He says that the pearls are like a good luck charm and bring him joy during the pandemic. I recently interviewed a jeweler about trends and pearls are on the list. She told me that young women, influenced by the young British royals, are buying pearls.

I suspect that women are also inspired by another fan of pearls – Vice President Kamala Harris, who has made pearls her signature. Single strands, double strands, layered, mixed with gold and even diamonds, Vice President Harris loves her pearls. (I love that fact that she sports her pearls with her other favorite accessory – Converse sneakers.)

I agree with my mother that pearls are now an every day choice that go with everything. I like pearls with t-shirts. Or layers of pearls peeking out from underneath a blouse. Or a long strand on a lightweight sweater. Pearls are fun to play with and they don’t have to be real; faux pearls can be as lovely and lustrous as the real thing. And by the way, pearl is the birthstone for June.

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I have many of my late mother’s dresses from the 70s. Some are unraveling, but I feel close to her when I wear them around my house. There’s a red floral one that reminds me of summers in Oklahoma.

Sherri McMullen – boutique owner.

Originally from Oklahoma, Ms. McMullen owns the fashion boutique McMullen, located in downtown Oakland. Offering luxury clothing by designers from around the world, McMullen has been named among the top American boutiques by Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily.

I also own much of my mother’s clothing from the 50s to the 70s and I can relate to what Ms. McMullen is saying. These vintage pieces of fashion are woven with memories and images that connect us to our past. I think that’s of great value.

Sunday, May 9th is Mother’s Day. ODFL wishes all the moms out there a very happy day!

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That’s me sporting a white patent leather handbag and that’s my mother and my grandmother Louise, two women who sparked my interest in fashion.

A couple of years ago I started a new holiday ODFL tradition: The Twelve Days of Christmas. Starting on Christmas Day through January 5th, I posted a different holiday card. Last year for Twelve Days I posted a different subway advertisement, inspired by a visit to the NYC Transport Museum.

This year the theme is … wait for it … Vintage Handbags.

My interest (obsession) in handbags goes way back to childhood, as soon as I was old enough to covet my mother’s handbags. By age four I was collecting my own and to this day I remember every one. In particular, a fuchsia patent leather structured handbag that my Grandmother Mary bought for me at the Emporium. I remember spotting it on a table lined with navy blue, black, and tan bags. The fuchsia bag stood out and that was the one for me!

To my young self, handbags represented grown up ladies and independence. They were portable spaces holding important things like car keys, front door keys, money, lipstick, gum!

Handbags have been coming my way ever since. I have a collection of antique and vintage bags, many of which I inherited from both of my grandmothers. Starting Christmas Day I will share some of my favorites.

Please tune in starting December 25th for The Twelve Days of Vintage Handbags.

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From afar we wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.

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Happy Mother’s Day from us to you.

Nothing has to be perfect for me to use it, wear it, enjoy it!

Cindy Marshall, retired antique jewelry dealer and my mother.

Although I didn’t always understand or agree with Mom’s philosophy there were times when it came in handy.

Once, when I was around five years old, early on a Saturday morning I was awake before everyone else and hanging around in the living room. I recall getting bored and looking around I spotted a bottle of liquid shoe polish sitting on the coffee table. Suddenly, artistic inspiration overcame me and I grabbed the bottle and swiped the brush of black goo back and forth on a small portion of a large Art Nouveau style poster hanging on the wall, thinking at first that no one would notice. Then I stood back to admire my abstract brush strokes … Oh no! It’s kind noticeable. I tried to wipe off the polish but it was already dry. Quickly, I put the bottle back on the table and ran out of the living room and down the hall to the kitchen, far away from the scene of the crime.

Lucky for me, Mom didn’t look at the poster that day. I don’t know when she might have noticed it, but she never said a word. No one did. Maybe I was right thinking no one would noticed or they thought it was always a part of the poster.

Many years later after I had grown up and the poster had survived a few moves, I was looking at it, again up on the wall, and asked Mom about the black stroke marks. “Did you know I did that?” I asked.

“Of course … well, I don’t think I realized right away but I figured it out.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? How come I didn’t get in trouble?”

Mom laughed. “It didn’t matter and I kind of liked your added artwork.”

I’ve come to appreciate imperfections – holes in a sweater, a crack in a tea cup, a crooked stitch on something hand-sewn, swipes of black shoe polish on a poster. The imperfections can make things more interesting. They certainly are a reflection of real life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for the gift of imperfections.

 

 

 

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It’s been quite awhile since we visited Mom’s Closet. Let’s step inside for a little Halloween story. Click on the Mom’s Closet tab above and scroll down for “Spooky Halloween Wishes from Mom’s Closet.”

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