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WHAT I WORE: Haute Couture Thanks to Mom!

January 17, 2012

In honor of the Jan. 24 opening of LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, Blumenthal staff members and others are sharing their memories about a favorite piece of clothing.

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I wish my mom could have been with me when I saw LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE off-Broadway last spring.  As a seamstress extraordinaire (my mother could win Project Runway if she was alive today), she’d have enjoyed this show about clothes and memories, and I know it would have spurred us to talk all the way home about the outfits she made for me and my sisters. It would have been fun to find out her favorites, and interesting to see if she recalled them as clearly as I do.

Wendy Oglesby

Wendy Oglesby, Vice President of Marketing

Until my mid-teens, when style dictated that fashionable young ladies wear Boone’s Farm Apple Wine tee-shirts and hip hugger bell bottoms covered in PEACE patches, my mother made almost everything I wore.  I was haute couture before I knew what that was.

She crafted a luxurious, red velvet jacket and a blue and red plaid skirt for my turn as a Homecoming Queen nominee. She stitched two styling pantsuits the first year girls were allowed to wear slacks at my school.  One was a red and white stripe; the other teal with a white and taupe pattern. The pants had elastic waists and the tops were long enough to convert to mini-dresses when that craze hit. They were SPECTACULAR, and so comfortable.

Prom time? Oh my.  There was a pale pink cotton—an unlikely choice for a prom gown but so soft and flattering. I bought a sundress last summer made from the same fabric purely because it reminded me of that dress.  Another was sleek orange crepe with white sequins—a knockout, sexy dress that I cut off in my twenties and wore to fancy cocktail parties.  It would bedazzle today if I could get it over my hips. A final, gauzy gown of tiny orange, blue and white flowers that looked like an impressionist painting. I floated in that one.

Easter outfits? Don’t get me started. One year, she made identical suits for her three girls:  Pink for me; yellow for my middle sister and blue for the youngest. Another year it was a dropped-waist navy polk-a-dot creation with a bright red belt.

My mother could create fashion magic out of nothing. She sewed us dresses out of floral, cornmeal sacks and they were divine.
For my last day of class in the first grade, she whipped up a pale blue, full skirted dress with a deep v-back.  The seven-year-old me fidgeted at my desk, dying to slip off my white sweater and reveal that daring v-cut.  Nobody else had anything like it.

My Mother gave up sewing when the Hippie look took over. Her last hurrahs were a couple of halter tops that I wore out dancing at the college bars in Columbia.

I think my Mother would be astounded to know how prominently her beautiful creations figure in my memory of the times of my life. I know I never told her how much I loved the clothes or how much I admired her talent and creativity.

I remember that oversight more clearly than the outfits.

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Wendy Oglesby is the Vice President of Marketing for Blumenthal Performing Arts.  Got a memory about a dress or another piece of clothing?  Click here to share it here and you could win tickets to the show! 

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