Saturday, July 14, 2018

Inspired by what she wore: Hallie's turquoise jumpsuit


HALLIE EPHRON: I’ve just turned in the manuscript for my new novel, Careful What You Wish For. It will come out NEXT summer. I often wonder, what do publishers do in the 9-12 months it takes to get a book in print. I shouldn’t complain, though, because it takes me at least two years to write one.
 

The story was inspired by the decluttering craze set off by Marie Kondo. With clothing, for example, her method involves getting rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy,” and carefully smoothing, folding, and putting away the things that do.

My book is about a married couple. Emily is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives. Her husband Frank can’t pass up a yard sale. Its working title was Folding Frank.

I looked to my own closet (and marriage, but don't tell anyone) for inspiration. At the back of my closet I found a turquoise zippered parachute jumpsuit that I’d bought in California in about 1980. It inspired this passage:


Emily picked up a turquoise zippered jumpsuit that she’d bought in Venice Beach. She’d been a different person back then, just out of college and getting her teaching degree. Frank was an idealistic, newly minted attorney, committed to human rights and equality, and about to start what would be a two-year stint working in the Massachusetts Public Defender’s office.

That had been more than ten years ago, before being poor had gotten old. Back then she’d never have considered wearing tailored pants and a blazer, and her romance with the camera had just begun.

She shook out the jumpsuit and held it under her chin in front of the full-length mirror that hung on the bedroom door. With her long dark hair and bangs, Emily didn't look all that different from the way she'd looked when she'd first tried on the jumpsuit. She'd worn it with the sleeves rolled and the cuffs pegged, belted with a grommet-studded military-surplus belt. The get-up had attracted attention from passers-by on Newbury Street in Boston, but when a bartender at Sonsie had asked where she'd bought it, she felt it had been given the ultimate stamp of approval.

Emily ran her palms across its soft fabric. Raised the zipper all the way and straightened the stand-up collar. No, the outfit did not remind her of a younger Frank so much as Emily herself--at least the juicier, less mousey self that she hoped she hadn’t inadvertently consigned to some rubbish bin on her journey from free spirit to elementary-school teacher and on to professional organizer, imposing rows and right angles on a chaotic world.

Today's question: What’s hanging in your closet right now that you’ve kept just because it reminds you of another you?
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67 comments:

  1. Next summer seems very far away, Hallie, but I suppose it will be here before we know it. I know I’ll be watching for your book . . . .

    As for what’s hanging in the closet, the scrubs I wore when I volunteered at the hospital a gazillion years ago when we lived in Alabama . . . sentimentality more than practicality, I’m sure, but whenever I go through the clothes, they always end up staying right there in the closet.

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    1. How perfect! Loaded with memories and the earlier YOU.

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  2. I'm about to turn in my next-summer book, too, Hallie. And I'm so excited for your new book!

    That's a great jumpsuit. I have the Bedouin dress my sister brought from Israel, my girl scout jacket from high school, an indigo shirt I wore in Japan, and a stunning West African outfit. None of which I wear. Sigh.

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  3. Can't wait for next summer Hallie! The first thing that came to mind was a three-piece black wool pin-striped suit that I must have bought in the 70's. I can't imagine that I would ever wear it again unless a gangster ball comes along...

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    1. THREE-piece? PIN-STRIPED? I have a very hard time imagining you in that. Sounds like something you bought for a new job... or for an job interview.

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    2. I had one of those! I bought it to wear to a New Years Eve party back in the seventies! That was the only time I ever wore it, and it is long gone.

      DebRo

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  4. My closets have been cleaned out and everything I hadn’t worn in years donated on binned. So I have to search in the clutter of mind for that particular garment.

    It is a cerise crepe trapeze dress, scoop neck, long sleeves, trimmed with a feather boa around the wide hem, which fell almost mid-thigh. Add silver fishnet hose and a beehive hairdo and you will see me on New Years Eve circa the mid sixties. Although it touched me only around the shoulders and bust, I wore a longline bra and a girdle under it all Talk about a passion killer!

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    1. That dress sounds aMAZing, Ann! (Though I had to look up 'cerise') Yikes, a girdle. Now that takes me back... to a place I'd prefer not to go.

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    2. It's the sort of dress that belongs in a vintage clothing shop. WTH did I get so ancient that my old clothes qualify as vintage?

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  5. I’m so excited about the new book! The teaser was a great sample of your “take me right there” descriptive prose. I don’t hang on to clothes, but once I made a series of sketches with colored pencils of my favorites, inspired by the book “what I wore.”
    A dress I wish I still had was an A-line with bell sleeves. It was a great heavy(ish) cotton in a swirly green print.
    Btw your description of the reaction of people in Boston made me think of my own time in 1972 after living in Berkeley. My west coast very casual clothes were not exactly ready for DC.

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    1. A-line. Bell sleeves! Short? And remember when you could GET clothing made of cotton that didn't cost a small fortune?

      I think coastal differences have lessened... probably thanks to the media. But I still feel weird stepping off the plane in LA in my all-black east coast outfit.

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    2. Hallie: Per a line from a very short-lived tv series, delivered by the great Christine Baranski, "We're New Yorkers. We wear black until something darker comes along."

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  6. A watered silk tunic top and slacks in a swirly peacock print, from the early nineties when we moved to Atlanta.

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    1. I hope you still have them. Sounds like they'd still be in style.

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  7. Really love all of your titles, Hallie--you know right away what you're about to get into--suspense!! Congrats on getting the manuscript off to the publisher! Now we wait....

    When I was in middle school, my back-to-school new clothes included a forest green corduroy skirt--A-line with an inverted pleat in the front. I loved that skirt--the color, the feel, everything about it. There are pieces of it in the first quilt I ever made. Whenever I need some extra comfort, I pull out that quilt and can stroke each of the fabrics in it--but especially the dark green corduroy.

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    1. I love this... a quilt can be made up of memories.
      Every year I had something made of corduroy. In the 60s bell bottom hip-hugger jeans that I wore with a wide belt.

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    2. I love that, Flora. Some of my scrap quilts bring back more memories than a photo album.

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  8. The stuff hanging in my closet that reminds me of another me is nothing fancy. It is probably just some stuff that I keep pretending I'll ever be able to fit back into.

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  9. Congratulations on finishing the new book, Hallie! I'll mark my calendar and put it on pre-order so I won't have to wait an extra minute to dig in!

    As for my closet . . . yeah, there's a lot of stuff in there that made it through multiple moves. I got rid of the corporate suits, and "outgrew" some of the dresses, but I still have a gauzy white peignoir set, embroidered with crystals and lace, left over from the days when there was someone around to appreciate me in it.

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    1. I wonder if you could make it into a scarf.

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    2. I could probably make it into dozens of scarves.

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  10. I love the phrase "before being poor had gotten old."

    I have a pregnancy outfit--pale blue overalls my mother made for me. Toward the end of my term (after the doctor told me I needed to EAT MORE because twins), it was the only maternity clothes I could fit. Wearing it, I looked like a giant Easter egg.

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    1. Good for a Halloween costume!

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    2. I had a pair of red pregnancy overalls I sewed. I wasn't carrying twins but they kept checking because I became a house - 55 lbs on 5'1". I blessedly don't have those overalls any more!

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  11. First of all, I'll love 'waiting for' the new book. The snippet you shared makes me want to have it now! Ha! As to my closet, well, I have lost a bunch of weight in the last couple of years. A lot of things are way too big, but I'm just now gradually buying new things. One day soon I'll go through and donate the 'too big' things. It's a process for me that I've found occurs more psychologically than I anticipated. Oh, I do know that my husband's letter jacket from high school football is still hanging there - on my side no less. I think I wore it more than he did. Does that count? It's only from the '70's. LOL

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    1. You married a high school football player? Be still my beating heart!! Do you have your prom dress??

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    2. Yes I did marry the football star. And I was the little mouse in the corner. Ha! We met at church and went to different high schools. My prom dress - no - nor even my wedding dress, but that's another story. :-)

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    3. Laughing. My wedding dress was white cotton Mexican lace. Mini. Bell sleeves. Adorable. I tried to wash it after I wore it because I got food all over it. Bad idea.

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  12. Great snippet!

    I held onto a pair of 3-inch, ruby-red, glossy stiletto heels because...those were the days. I finally had to admit that I'd never wear them again what with my knee, feet, and balance and gave them away. =(

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Yes, sadly those days are long gone for me, too. 1" heels are out, ever mind 3"ers.

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    2. Oh, man, I kept a pair of 6" platform sandals for decades, too, a remnant of my life when I only dated men well over 6' tall.

      My husband has shrunk, and now he's shorter than I am, so I finally got rid of those insane shoes. I hope they found a good home.

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    3. Me too, Hallie.

      Karen, 6"?!? I could never even imagine wearing something like that. I bet my girl could, though.

      Mary/Liz

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    4. They were insane. But wearing them meant I could see over my 6'5" boyfriend's shoulder when we danced! (1975)

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  13. I regret that I have no clothes from the sixties! I wish I did or even had some pictures to show my granddaughter.
    Looking forward to reading your book next summer. Seems like a very long wait but I know that time passes quickly now.

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  14. Hallie, another year? Really? Did you tell them about my green banana issues?

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  15. A garish green paisley, polyester mini dress from 1977 when I was in college. I marvel at how short it is. I also marvel at the sizing from back then. Much larger sizes than today.

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    1. I had one like that. In blue. SO short (what were we thinking??)

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    2. We were all young with great legs

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  16. Hallie, very excited to hear there's a new book for next summer. I've had to make several moves in my life that required essentials only so items from my 'former me" wardrobe didn't make the cut. But may I just say, polyester. Yikes!!

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  17. What a fun topic, Hallie. And count me as another one eager to read this book.

    We are going through the longest "stuff" purge in the history of the world. It started twelve years ago, with the emptying of Steve's family home, after his dad passed away. They had lived there 67 years. Then I started cleaning out the house we have lived in for almost 33 years, which is ongoing. In December we started cleaning out the old house Steve's family used as a studio for 60 years, and which got torn down two weeks ago (they dug for footers for the new house yesterday!).

    Now I'm going through old patterns, and I keep getting detoured down Memory Lane. I started sewing in 1966, and made virtually all my own clothes, and for my daughters, my mother, my best friends, and my sister. Also, two husbands. I found the pattern for a khaki jumpsuit I made, very similar to your turquoise one, Hallie, a Marlo Thomas McCall's pattern. https://i.pinimg.com/564x/a3/32/13/a332139e877b66375d00ac150c65e22d.jpg I loved that thing, and wore it over a turtleneck, just like in the photo.

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    1. As for actual garments, I've kept some. My Candy Striper uniform from high school, when I volunteered at the hospital. A cute (and teeny, tiny) outfit from circa 1973 that our kids played with when they were little. The gown I wore for my oldest daughter's wedding--I made both our gowns. Both my wedding dresses: the one I made in 1970, and the green silk cocktail dress I wore in 1982.

      Naturally, none of this fits me, or ever will again. Sigh.

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  18. I have the first blazer I bought as a baby lawyer almost thirty years ago having outgrown the lovely Evan Picone suits my mother had given me. Double-breasted Glen plaid with Ricky Ricardo shoulder pads. It was the only blazer I had for a very long time.

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  19. I have never worn, bought or considered a turquoise zippered jumpsuit. Or any jumpsuit. Thank God.

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  20. A mini-dress in a blue Hawaiian print on the same hanger with Hub's matching shirt. We bought this get up on our honeymoon and wore it to a luau. I pranked him and volunteered him to go up and dance the hula -- and he did! I laugh every time I think about it, so the clothes stay. Other than that, I am a thrower outer of the first order. Nothing stays. Nothing. When finished with an item, clothing or other, I thank it for its service and away it goes. Books are the only exception to the rule.

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  21. Also, I can't wait for the new book! I'm hooked!

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  22. Not clothes that I wore, but my father’s WWII leather flight jacket, with the silk square map in the pocket with (in Japanese) the writing “I am an American. I am your friend.” He wore it in the winter when he took me sledding or helped me build the best snowmen ever. I keep to remember that magical time as a little girl with her daddy.

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  23. Love this, Hallie. I have slews of old clothes, but the one I treasure most is my "Nucleus Music" t-shirt from Estes Park, Colorado circa 1979, which I wore when I used to sing and play my guitar in sleazy, tourist-town bars. I never wear t-shirts anymore, but I can't give it up. By the way, if you had kept Folding Frank as the title, I would have bought that book in a heartbeat.

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  24. A couple of items I still hold onto immediately come to mind. My Annie Oakley skirt and vest I received on my birthday as a girl, probably around 6 or 7. I have a picture of me in it sitting on the wall of our driveway and holding a snowball. My birthday is in February. Then there is the brown leather skirt and vest I had in high school. It was just so uber cool, one of those outfits you wear and feel like something special. I also have my cheerleading outfit, cheerleading jacket, and band sweater I hold onto. These are the special items of youth that will forever hang in my closet.

    Hallie, I'm so excited to know that there will be a new book from you next summer!

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    1. I had an Annie Oakley rifle! Wish I still had it

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  25. My mom kept this patchwork hoodie that I loved when I was little. It was neat when she pulled it out for my niece to wear. My niece loved it too.

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  26. I'm like Jenn; I don't tend to hang on to stuff, but there is one dress that has been catching my eye during my recent forays into the closet. I generally ask myself, "would I buy that item today?" but I don't know what the answer is when it comes to that dress!

    Can you give us a little more info about the book, Hallie, even though you had me at professional organizer?

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    1. All I’ll say is that it’s got a twist on’Strangers on a Train’

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  27. I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff since we've moved twice since I "retired". BUT I've hung onto a Christian Dior suit I bought at our church rummage sale in the 90s. Even then the waist was a little tight on the knife-pleated skirt. I loved the jacket: collarless and short. I wore it with pants quite a lot. One of these days maybe I'll fit into it again. . . I also have a leather skirt I bought in Spain in 1999. I have no idea if it fits. Afraid to try it on.

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  28. We all need Karen to tell whether the clothes we’ve ‘outgrown’ can be altered to fit - sewing is such a lost art

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    1. Making something smaller can be doable. Bigger? Not so much

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    2. If I could have I would have!

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  29. Actually, it is my winter coat. It is faded,yet I cannot part with it. It was the very last thing my dad bought for me.

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  30. My high school cheerleader outfit from the '50's is still packed away somewhere!

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  31. My red Indian print long hippie skirt that I bought on the "strip" in Knoxville, Tennessee, when I was a graduate student in anthropology of education at UT. I ended up teaching school as I continued my graduate studies, and a middle school boy came up to me one day and pointed that the figures on the skirt had their hands on each other in "strategic locations," which might be termed "heavy petting" in those days. I had never noticed! It was the free-spirited 1970's, though, and I loved the full, flowing skirt so I continued to wear it and no one ever said a word, including the boy. I've moved multiple times, divorced, remarried but I kept the skirt. It's hanging in our attic.

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