gnl number 51

a report of doings at meeting #51, Sunday, August 14, 2010
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


“Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture
of the mind made visible.—James Laver, Style in Costume


We met in Cynthia and Ron’s beautiful cabin, in Blenheim.  Nancy was away taking care of the aftermath of to-do’s following her mother’s death and funeral.  We all send her our love.   Sue rang the bell and spoke the invocation and benediction, and with Cynthia’s help is writing these notes. Since we do not have Nancy’s remarkable memory  this will be an approximation of the order in which people spoke and a more sketchy summary than usual of what was said.

Ann said that the current style was never anything she wanted to adopt.  She showed us a very cute photograph of herself at the age of 8 or 9 months wearing a flowery wreath and looking less then cheery, telling us she’d been “dressed up by my mother” which she claims was the last time she ever wanted to conform to anyone’s sense of style.  She praised thrift and goodwill shops as great places to find clothing that costs little and fills her needs. 

Sue wore bloomer type culottes, bright red with a flower pattern, made in Pakistan and bought in the mid-60’s when she was discovering other ways to dress & live than the ways she was taught growing up.  She showed a photograph with the hairstyle and makeup she wore working as a secretary right before “tuning in, turning on and dropping out,” and another of herself with long hair and embroidered blouse when she first lived in Cobleskill in 1973.  She described her state of mind when she realized she was never going to set her hair again, or wear any makeup or shave any hair off her body, and how much more comfortable with herself she felt when she released herself from all the “rules” of female appearance.  See the quotations she read in AFTERWORDS.

Ron observed that we all were raised with ideas about how to dress and that we went through natural stages in our lives when we changed from one style to another. 

Cynthia spoke about the latest “style” for her over the last few years—coveralls, which she is having more and more difficulty shopping for.  They are not always available, except in high-end shops and catalogs where they cost way too much.  She also talked about the difficulty of finding undergarments that fit, which brought up a chorus of voices agreeing with her, and some witty joking. 

Jill arrived with a bag of clothing and showed us wonderful favorite outfits from past eras of her life.  There were some brightly colored, “wet-look” clothes in red white and blue (pants, jacket and shirt) which everyone admired, and a blouse given to her by her new daughter-in-law who explained she was in the habit of exchanging clothes with her sister, and had gotten a very nice blouse she wanted Jill to have.  She said she had a whole collection of tee-shirts bought at folk music festivals she attends that she never wants to get rid of, most of which she doesn’t wear. 

All of us then joined in talking about the reasons for keeping clothing you may never wear again, for memory’s sake, or because they were gifts from someone in your life who matters. 

Anna showed us the sari she brought which was given to her at a wedding by the new mother-in-law of her nephew.  She too buys clothes from thrift stores and keeps clothes for years.  We talked about the beautiful vintage clothing she wore at C-FACE’s  fashion show a couple years back.  Vijaya’s sister Anoopa offered to help Anna put on the sari, which was made of a beautiful silk cloth in Southern India.  But it was far easier for Anoopa to wrap the sari around herself, and we were amazed by the complex  folds she put into the cloth as wound it around herself. 

Vijaya and her sister Anoopa arrived dressed in beautiful colorful clothing from India.  Vijaya displayed the wide shawl she wore wrapped around herself, which was hand embroidered with hundreds of flowers, and the blouse she wore was embroidered in the same pattern.  The back of the shawl was a maze of tiny stitches.  She remembers a beautiful dress and pants she wore as a small child, when she was carried everywhere by her family.  It had gold cuffs at ankles and wrists and she loved the outfit.

Anoopa and Vijaya talked about how many women in India wore saris all the time, and agreed that their mother always wore one all day, and to sleep in at night.  While putting on the sari, they showed ways to wrap it so both arms are free to move, or just one arm is free.  Their mother wore it so both her arms were free.  Vijaya said she didn’t often wore western clothes, because they didn’t make them to fit her shape, and Ann agreed this was true for her as well. 

We had side conversations about getting the right shoes that fit without hurting our feet, and the right bras, and there were numerous remarks made about wanting clothing that felt comfortable.  We also agreed that if you were dressed poorly—old or ragged clothes, etc., you were treated badly.


“I put on clothes every day, and whether I am aware of it nor not,
I also put on attitudes.  What will I be wearing today?’—Gunilla Norris


Sunday, September 11, 2011 (place to be decided—Gail or Sue), The topic, An Activity:  Finger-painting – Sue has two pads of finger-paint paper—we’ll need at least a few folks to bring finger-paints.

Our offering will be given to Head Start, which recently sent out a call for donations.

After lunch and a varied long conversation about several topics, we devoted our last thoughts to Jack Daniels, whom we’ve heard is more fragile, not speaking, and not eating as much or as easily as he was.  This is part of a long slow decline that we’ve witnessed, and we felt this latest stage must be difficult for Jack.  We agreed a call needs to be made by anyone wants to visit, to see if the time is right, and a visit will need to be brief.


from Sue:
  • “What a strange power there is in clothing.”—Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • “Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.”—Fashion designer Anne Klein
  • “The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.”—Mark Twain
  • “Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”—Mark Twain
  • “I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.”—Gilda Radner
  • “Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.”—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • “I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant.  They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.”—Yves Saint Laurent
  • “Although a life-long fashion dropout, I have absorbed enough by reading Harper’s Bazaar while waiting at the dentist’s to have grasped that the purpose of fashion is to make A Statement.  My own modest Statement, discerned by true cognoscenti, is, ‘Woman Who Wears Clothes So She Won’t Be Naked.’”—Molly Ivins

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