The article photographer Pamela Hanson did for Financial Time’s How to Spend It issue over the weekend really struck a chord with me. Her mother passed away last winter and Pamela returned to her parents’ home in Geneva where she and her siblings were raised and her mother lived for nearly 70s years to photograph rooms and objects as way to “hold onto her, like she was there. I feel her presence in every shot.” It also turns out her mother had great taste; there are piles Chanel cashmere cardigans, Belgian loafer shoes, her Hermes scarves neatly stacked to her everyday Lalaounis gold bracelets in her drawer.
Through these images you can see her mother had a definitive, singular style; the objects Pamela photographed are reminders of her mother, because they were intrinsic to her personality. It’s what I think a well-edited wardrobe should be, succinct and repetitive in its vision. It’s about ignoring the noise of trends and holding out for what truly speaks to you. And then, sticking mostly to it. I don’t know if you can read the article (paywalls and such), but I’ve included several photos with Pamela’s quotes here. (The one for the holding image is: “I selected this Chanel bag and pearls to take back to New York with me to give to my daughter in law.”) I hope you enjoy it.
I especially love the note on the Chanel Suit being worn for all wedding and dress up special occasions. In these times of multiple consume changes for weddings and other special events (never mind wearing something just once) a reminder that one fabulous outfit can and should be put on repeat is so refreshing!
I think a well edited, singular style was a lot more usual and common years ago, when women shopped for their wardrobes a few times a year, usually in the favorite department store, and had their go-to brands and designers. They weren’t exposed by the internet and globalization to a huge variety of “stuff”, which has led the fashion industry to produce more stuff. How to have this well edited style now, when things are so different, is a huge challenge…especially to curb the desire for something new, all the time. I know it’s a difficulty for me. The photographs are a beautiful tribute to her mom.
It is a HUGE challenge. We almost need a new retail model. Or movement.
I have always been a fan of Pamela Hanson’s work and was particularly struck by these photos because it reminded me so much of my own Mom. She had one “dress shop” in particular where she used to go and was always welcomed by name when she walked in. It was from that small shop that she came home with her two prizes, a Bonnie Cashin coat and a Halston ultrasuede dress, which she wore for years. I’d give anything to have those now.
Carleen and KSL…Complete agree with the two of you.
I know. My mom has a Chanel jacket that I think I need to steal now.
Dana D says
I love these responding stories by all of you here. My own mother didn’t have the budget or a taste for Chanel, but when she needed a new dress or a pair of shoes it was a big deal. She shopped carefully and always bought the highest quality.
I’m saddened by how much I consume in this era of easy availability. I see it, I “need” it, I rationalize it, and, if it fits with the idea of what I think I can “afford”, I buy it.
This is true even as I try to buy better, buy less! This is true even as I attempt to pursue a “core” wardrobe! I agree with KSL–it is a tremendous challenge to not always want the new beautiful thing…
Beautiful photos, beautifully edited post, and I love the other comments here.
I love this piece. I remember when men and women dressed elegantly no matter the clothing budget. My mom was one of the most elegantly dressed women I’ve ever known.-my grandmother too. Both had very small clothing budgets, my grandmother made most of her her clothes, but they both had a great eye for putting outfits together. Even years after they have left us people comment on how elegant they were. So, I often complain it’s difficult today to find grown women clothes. Clothes seem geared toward five year olds, 20 year olds or 90 year olds. In the last 10 years shopping has been the most difficult it’s ever been.
Yes. It’s quite interesting how transient clothing has become. You really have to weed through a lot.
I’m adding to my previous comment because this article brought out such a sense of nostalgia for me. From the hair spray to the shoes it reminded me so much of my mom, my friends’ moms and I time when dressing in a grownup fashion was okay and one to be emulated. I can recall looking forward to dressing like a grownup and shopping in grownup stores. To some degree, it was a right of passage. Articles such as the one Pamela Hanson wrote spotlights the dichotomy of fashion today and that of a past time. As fashion has become more youth focus we’ve lost the joy of achieving adulthood and dressing in a dignified style. A style that’s not stuffy, pretentious or old fashioned but not so trend focused either. Even with the plethora of choices I’ve noticed that clothes are basically the same thing, focusing on extremes with very little in between.