The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Fashion, part two

Rachael Conlin Levy


Tranky Doo danced to the “The Dipsy Doodle” from “Spirit Moves: A History of Black Social Dance on Film, 1900-1986.” Dancers: Al Minns, Pepsi Bethel and Leon James.

My grandma, Jane Tankard Conlin, was 13 when she made her clothing scrapbook, filled with glued newspaper clippings of home decor, written reports on the difference between silk and linen, and pictures of models — all tall drinks of water with their flipped hair and narrow hips.

The pages, now yellowed and crackly, sent me on a mission to the hot, stuffy attic to unearth my own book of fashion, circa 1980s. Inside are pages from Seventeen and Glamour that I had cut out in an effort to identify my own style. I’m still struggling, though I’ve given up the big bangs and permed hair, thank God.

I can’t imagine my grandma ever wrestled over what to wear. She had a beautiful, refined style, though she was more like a shot glass of feistiness than a tall drink of water. She wore my grandpa’s club pin and they had their own song (The Dipsy Doodle), but she insisted on dating other men up until they were married. Small and strong, she bore five sons and climbed mountains. Yet as a teen, she dutifully typed up notes on “Why We Should Study Clothing.” Here they are:

To become more interested in the home. To become a better working member of the family. To become a better citizen of the community in which we live. To form habits of neatness and orderliness. To be able to select materials and ready-made garments. To learn how to sew by hand and by machine. To make garments using either a blocked or commercial pattern. To appreciate color, line, design and fabrics. To know how to shop wisely and courteously. To learn how to budget our time and money.

2 responses to “Fashion, part two”

  1. paisley says:

    aren’t grandparents wonderful… i cant imagine what life would have been like had i not had my gran… this was a really heartwarming post….

  2. Melody says:

    I can only hope I have a style my Granddaughter will admire and maybe pull pieces of my past out to remember. This was a wonderful read.

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