Fabric of Cultures: Memories

The essay I chose to discuss is Clothing and Memory by Iris Finkel. Iris and I were in class together for the fall 2016 semester. After reading, Peter Stallybrass’ Worn Worlds, for class, I believe both of us interpreted clothing and memories in the same way.

After her sister’s suicide, Iris discusses how she felt entering her sister’s bedroom. She goes on to say “Reminders everywhere, but none affected me as intensely as her sneakers. She decided she wouldn’t wear them that day. ” (Finkel, 67)

I had the same experience when my grandfather passed away in 2007. After his funeral, my cousins, sisters and I sat around in his room on the floor with blankets, cuddled together. We spent hours laughing and crying while sharing with each other our favorite memories of him, all of us wearing one of his sweatshirts.

Peter Stallybrass wrote in his essay about “Clothes are thus layered with meaning since they have the power to act as memory prompts. Woven into their fabric are traces of past experiences. Stitched into their seams are links to people we have loved and lost. How appropriate that in the technical language of sewing, wrinkles are termed ‘memory’?” (Stallybrass, Worn Worlds).

After the passing of a loved one their clothing and items live on. Iris talks about how she decided to keep the clothes her sister had made. “These were buried deep in the back of her closet, painful reminders of a self she no longer recognized.” (Finkel, 67)

In observing my own grieving process, I realize that some of the things that bring me comfort and peace are articles of clothing worn by those that I have lost. They are unique to them and the clothing that they once wore.

“You see clothes are so much more than material objects to cover our bodies. Woven into their very fabric are histories and associations that enrich our lives. And if we carefully unravel the threads, you discover memories that were otherwise lost.” (Robyn Gibson, The Memory of Clothes)

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