There are days, sometimes many days in a row, when I find myself wishing that I could be one of those carelessly fashionable people who looked smashing in nothing but a pair of well-worn jeans and a white t-shirt. The carefree, casual, supermodel chic of it seems so promising, so tasty in theory. In practice… well, that’s a whole other story.
Long story short - it doesn’t feel right. And lord knows I’ve tried. In fact, in some kind of hilarious joke of nature, it makes me feel like I’m wearing a costume or cosplaying a normal person.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you now - but, Amy, the jeans/t-shirt combo is the ultimate example of low-maintenance minimalism. And low maintenance is better than high maintenance.
First of all, no.
I mean. For one thing, there’s a scale between the two and the not being of one doesn’t mean the automatic being of the other. Fuscia and canary yellow exist on the spectrum between black and white, after all.
But, in general, I disagree on many levels. For one thing, I don’t think that the obligation of any person is to reassure others through the lack of time or effort we put into our physical appearance that we are somehow more valuable because why? We don’t take an hour to get ready? Looking extra makes other people at the party self-conscious? That’s immature. We don’t have to look the same to be friends, even if you don’t understand the emotional bond I have with my wardrobe.
Also, high-maintenance is a borderline slur tossed like tar and feathers on people who don’t succumb to the attempts of society to guilt-trip them into embracing minimalism as some kind of gold standard achievement of respectability. To which I say, stop that.
Maybe one day I’ll get into my theory that this can be traced back to the generational wounds of the Puritanical Invasions. But, in the meantime, it’s not my responsibility to maintain a low profile to make anyone feel more comfortable in their beige boxes. Move out or refinance and forget you ever saw me, baby.
As for the devotees of ‘modern design’ aesthetics with their white kitchens with nothing on the counters or walls, the ones who are less pearl-clutchy but more philosophically insufferable…
Allow me to remind you that art, much like beauty, is subjective. The very second you stop lecturing me about purging the beautifully curated sanctuary I call home so it looks ‘peaceful’ and tossing out all my clothes so I look ‘classic’, we can hang out. Not until then. I just don’t vibe with your capsule wardrobes, but I support your empty houses if that makes you happy and you’re nice about it.
Now, none of this means I don’t love a classic, timeless piece of denim. I just can’t press mute on the inevitable and immediate inner voice that pops in to query, ‘oooh, what can we do with this to make it more us?’.
In summary, while my default daily wear may not be of the blue jeans variety, I do think that a solid pair of jeans and/or a denim jacket are essential additions to any wardrobe. However, since I can’t even remember the last time I wore so much as a t-shirt with zero personalizations added, it shouldn’t be surprising that I have come up with ways to make wearing both feel more authentic for me.
And now I’m going to tell you why I’m here to suggest you try it out yourself. If you want.
In my opinion, once you’ve laid hands on your forever item of denim, it is the pleasurable pursuit of a lifetime to allow it to grow and express itself right alongside you until it evolves into your Signature Piece. For me, this means ‘denim jacket’, but only because jeans have never and probably will never fit my body correctly, so I can’t commit to a pair for more than six months. Plus, we are here to talk about my denim jacket… so let’s get to it.
I inherited this jacket from my Aunt Lana. Actually, since she passed away before I was born, it’s more accurate to say that I inherited this jacket from my mom who inherited it from my Aunt (her sister, obviously).
I won’t go into her backstory here, but Lana was in her late teens and twenties during the 1970s and was of the era-appropriate Bohemian persuasion. I’ve only seen two pictures of her as an adult, but in both of them she was wearing this jacket.
When I was a kid, there was a section at the back of my mom’s big closet where all the heirloom things were stored - her simple wedding dress, an old leather suitcase with my grandmother’s childhood doll from the 1930s along with all her antique doll clothes. And on the rack way at the back were my Aunt Lana’s jackets - there was a tan corduroy coat, a red, black, and white checked wool shirt and of course the denim jacket. While I loved trying all of them on and examining myself in the mirror for signs that I shared any facial resemblance with Lana, and sometimes wearing them out and about, the tan coat was just never going to be ‘my style’ and the wool shirt was so painfully itchy, that it felt like a cilice. You know, one of those self-mortification devices for overly strict Catholics to punish themselves for being born. No thank you.
Anyway, that’s how it came to pass, true to denim’s worldwide reputation as the most flexible addition to any wardrobe, that it wound up being my Aunt Lana’s denim jacket that joined me on my long, crooked path from thirteen to middle age. Are we still calling forty middle-aged? I haven’t paid attention to lifespan averages in a while, but I don’t imagine we’ve exceeded a median age of 80 yet, right?
And let me just say, this jacket is the textbook definition of ‘vintage denim jacket’. Know what I mean? Heavy but not too heavy. Fitted but not too fitted. Worn soft in the spaces where her elbows rested, slightly frayed along the hems where her bag would swish when she walked. Worn well and bearing all the signs of being loved, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want it to be part of my collection.
For many years, I would occasionally toss the jacket on top of something overtly feminine to keep things balanced or drape it with silk scarves like some kind of glam rock groupie. But, while it remained a staple in my wardrobe that I loved to wear for no other reason than the story of it, the jacket spent most of my twenties and thirties not quite fitting in with my style. Which I wanted it to do, it’s just that I also wanted the jacket to feel like it was as much a part of my personal journey as it had been part of Lana’s, as different as our journeys may have been.
I’ll be honest, part of me assumed that once I ‘got older’ I would become a jeans and t-shirt person overnight like Cinderella reverting back to her ragged house clothes at midnight because fun would be done with me. Instead, in a strange plot twist, my confidence downshifted from being something I had to look for between the couch cushions every morning before leaving the house to something that was just there out of nowhere in a slightly sassy, totally exhausted-with-the-world act of defiance around the time I turned 37. I’d heard that could happen as one neared or passed forty, and I’m pleased to confirm that it’s true. I woke up one day and had fully stopped dreading the age when I was too old to wear a petticoat and platform boots to the grocery store because at a cellular level I understood it was never going to happen and screw the world with their stupid opinions.
Then voila. Out came the jacket, along with a long contemplation of what it represented to me, both completely separately from its original life with Lana as well as in all the ways our stories intersected in one way or another.
Patches are the most obvious go-to addition to any item of clothing to give it an instant ‘this is mine’ makeover. Though, while I’ve certainly had my share of witty, acerbic patches that flaunted my beliefs and moods over the years, another unexpected but obvious in retrospect side effect of aging (for me) is that quippy patches, bumper stickers and t-shirts that smash you over the head with unsubtle messaging start to feel more like a cheap shortcut to self-expression than an authentic representation of myself as I move through the world.
As a result, I’ve started to let the patches that I make myself through reclaimed fabrics and such take the place of a majority of the jacket’s landscape.
If you want to get fully into the entire collection, follow us on Instagram @savage_sacrament so you don’t miss the upcoming storytime tour. But, I will touch on one of the patches here as it really gets to the core of what I mean by ‘allow your signature denim jacket to grow and express itself alongside you’.
This is about to get a little personal, not too much, but you know. So, I’ll acknowledge it by saying that I think it’s a really special thing when fashion can celebrate vulnerability on its way to becoming empowerment. After all, human beings are messy, imperfect, and stubborn, but if they do it right, their imperfections can be beautiful, too. And, as I said before, this denim jacket is a wearable time capsule that shapeshifts in tandem with events in my personal life. It’s like whiteboard broadcasting milestones disguised as fashion statements.
Allow me to present my Scarlet Letter.
This came off a letterman’s jacket, obviously, and is a tiny bit of a cheat because my name is Amy so I can always just say it's a monogram if I’m feeling lazy.
But, regardless, it came to me at a time when I was feeling ostracized and vilified unjustly in multiple areas of my life. Like Hester Prynn, I was metaphorically sentenced to be marked out as shunned, so when I found this patch I decided to beat them all to it and showed up with this sewn on my breast like a bright red ‘F.U.’ and it immediately made me feel stronger.
If Eminem taught us anything at all it’s that if you beat them to saying it, they fall apart in front of your eyes without their ‘gotcha’ flex.
Now. A lot of this schoolhouse drama lived mostly, but not wholly, at my last office job and I’m pretty sure this slightly hyperbolic literary reference flew so far over their heads they wouldn’t have seen it with a telescope. It didn’t matter, though, because I knew what it meant and that put a swagger in my step which confused the hell out of everyone… so in the end, I got the same result.
This all occurred several years ago, so while the situation was never resolved, it is definitely no longer relevant to me. But I still love this Scarlet Letter because it gave me that little extra lifeline of confidence in myself to get through a really tough year. And during the time that it has been here, emblazoned on the front of my denim jacket, it has morphed from its original life as an unspoken window to my outrage and indignance to being an emblem of my resilience and finally, most recently, a symbol of personal sovereignty.
Through its journey with me, this little red ‘A’ has come to perfectly illustrate my entire philosophy behind creating Signature Pieces for my clients in the first place.
Because the essential point of my ‘A’ patch is that from the first day I sewed it on right up to yesterday when I last wore it, I felt powerful knowing it was there.
In the beginning, because it could express something I couldn't yet do with words, and now because it reminds me of how I can and *will* always rise from every trial stronger and wiser than I was before.
This is why I feel so passionately about offering my clients an opportunity to discover the transcendent power of fashion to create a talisman capable of straightening their spine when the walk through any door, capable of cloaking them in the silky armor of style and preparing them to meet their own transformation, with all its unique challenges, with more confidence than they ever thought they could.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to begin creating your own Signature Piece, you can hit reply here or find more information on how to work with us on the website.
I can’t wait to create something with you.
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