Stranger’s Nostalgia

I’m a sentimental soul; I have ages of greeting cards, drawings, letters and other little notions of affection that clutter my drawers and hide under my bed. It goes beyond that – I can’t even get rid of old stuffed animals, for fear of hurting their feelings. Really, I’m just laying it all out there for you; I’m a little nutty. This is a contributing factor to two things: my love of all things vintage and antique, and my forever depleting storage solutions. 

Since my mom owns a consignment shop, she often acquires the full contents of an estate, after someone’s passing or relocation. It’s amazing to me, how many things people leave behind. I guess sometimes, it’s just easier for the family to get rid of everything and move on. My mom has a huge box full of other people’s photographs, that she couldn’t bear to throw away. It just didn’t seem right. For me, it’s the clothing – especially the well loved vintage dresses, pressed and hanging in garment bags. You can always tell which ones really meant something, whether it’s the professional tailoring, a written name on the tag, or just  the way it stands out among the house coats and slippers.
Two years ago, an elderly man came to my mom and told her that his wife died, and he couldn’t live alone anymore. He said he wanted her to take it all, because his kids didn’t want anything and he couldn’t take it with him. It broke her heart; she said he was dying of heartache. My mom spent a long while sorting through their things, and gave me a bunch of her clothing to look through. Well, I donated some of the items and altered the rest, for my own wardrobe. That Valentines’ Day dress was one of them, and this blazer is another (naturally, I changed them up quite a bit). I also have some skirts, dresses  and tops that I made out of some of their vintage linens, and a couple more dresses in my closet. I’d like to think that she’d get a kick out of a young gal like me getting use out of her old clothing. As for the rest, I’m sure my mom has found special homes for their tangible memories, and even kept a few for herself.

Outfit details:
(Excuse the wet hair; I showered shortly before the pictures.)

reconstructed vintage blazer – now you know
white floral tank – urban outfitters (a few years old)
shorts – urban outfitters
tights – no idea
orange heels – a gift from my mom, several years ago. I have them in teal, too…but I can’t seem to find them.
kitty Vester – side of the road rescue


p.s. I’m curious – do you consider yourself sentimental? What do you have a hard time letting go of?
p.p.s. I got my Macbook back! The problem was what I hoped it was. It was having trouble booting up and needed the startup disk, which I don’t have on hand. Everything is still there…which reminds me, I should back up right now.

p.p.p.s. This is mainly for Kim, but today was spent making headbands with my lovely intern, Catherine (click her name to check out her blog). We made over a dozen headbands!

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  1. I’m super sentimental which can be a problem since I hate clutter – I’ve finally learned to cull my clothing collection a bit (not enough, though) but I’ll never get rid of the greeting cards, photographs, and yes, stuffed animals. My boyfriend makes fun of me for having on my bed a stuffed alligator won by my father at Busch Gardens in Tampa when I was 3, and I still have my childhood blanket. Its gray/pink. In addition, I’ve kept every journal I’ve ever kept, finished or unfinished – and they are stuffed with letters, receipts from travels abroad, etc. I could go on and on and on. Abandoned stuffed animals make me teary, I’m ridiculous.

  2. i’m very sentimental at times. well, maybe not… i’m very emotional, is that the same thing? i cry at a lot of things like movies and stuff, the oscars was like a tear fest for me too. of course i love old photos and the food that reminds me of my family, but i don’t know if thats sentimental.

    lovely outfit, your colors are always so great.

  3. I know what you mean! I still have my stuffed panda, Snowball. I sleep with her at night – I’ve had her since I was a toddler. Notice that I refer to “her” and not “it.” haha

  4. I’m pretty sentimental myself. although lately i’ve been finding myself not very sentimental. i think a lot of stuff i’ve been getting rid of lately remind me of wrongdoings so i haven’t felt so bad getting rid of them. plus, i’ve been feeling very flighty lately so i’ve been getting rid of a lot of stuff in case i want to move in the next year or so. =)

  5. I too am a hoarder, although i hate to admit it!

    I love keeping clothes…which actually a couple of years later do dig out and use again.. it is only the very unworkable peices that I ever get rid of! Although I do give away a lot to my friends too! If they say they like something, I can art with it quite easily!

    Beautiful post. I especially love the bit about you mum keeping the photos! So respectful and caring! 😀

  6. those colors are so lovely on you.
    you look pretty always.

    am very sentimental too.
    i can’t throw away any wrinkled roses, or a piece of paper. or anything that reminds me of someone. it’s so hard to let go even to those little things. the spare room of our house is soooo full of those memories. but soon, ill have to say goodbye to them cos we’ll be moving to someplace this summer. am sad now.

  7. I think I convince myself I’m not sentimental, cause I’ve had to let go of so many physical objects. I’m moving, and had to get rid of a lot of my furniture. But I know I’m sentimental, despite not feeling attached to the bigger items. It’s definitely the small stuff. My boyfriend threw out a little tiny stool I have, that was tattered looking when I got it, let alone what it looks like now (a picture to show how unspectacular it is http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v444/mostfamous/Digitalpictures2424.jpg). I cried and dug through the dumpster to find it. Why is it so special? I have no amazingly special memories attached to it, other then it’s origins. I found it in a field when I was in grade 9. That’s all….and I took it home and made it mine…and I’d like to keep it that way.

  8. I have to admit that I’m a huge hoarder too. Aside from all the stuffed animals I’ve acquired over the years, I also have a dresser full of clothes that don’t fit me. Yes, a FULL DRESSER of clothes that are all from my past that I can’t let go of.

    I told myself recently that I would get rid of all the band shirts I wore in high school, but the minute I was about to sort through them all, I couldn’t do it. I just closed the drawer and distracted myself with other things.

    I think I need to learn how to just LET GO of some things. hehe

  9. Katrina:

    I’d like to share something helpful with you! My friend Kimberly had a ton of clothing from high school (and probably before then) that she couldn’t let go of. Outdated clothing, old band shirts, etc. My friend April had a great idea – Try it on, take a picture of you in it, and let it go. That way, you have a visual memory of it!

  10. I am very sentimental as well, I feel you girl. the hardest thing for me to let go is ‘what could have been.’ I just need to remind myself to get out of my head. I can part with belongings, I just don’t. so much clutter. xx

  11. I know exactly what you mean. I can’t give away any of my animals because I’m afraid they’ll feel sad and neglected. So I put them in a plastic box but I cut a hole in it so they could breathe. That might not be sentiment though, just paranoia and craziness from me…

  12. My mom owns an auction company so I see lots of estate sales of cute little old ladies. There was one a few months ago where the lady lived to be 104 years old and traveled all over the world. Every closet and every drawer in her house had some of the most amazing clothes I’ve ever seen. There was 5 boxes of leather gloves alone and 4 tables full of vintage purses. Going through all of it and seeing all the letters and pictures was so sad to be, but also happy at the same time because it made me realize she had lived such a long and (what seemed to be) happy life.

    This post made me wish I had kept a few more things. But anyway, you are adorable and I love reading your blog. I wish I was better at sewing so I could take old clothes and give them a new life.

  13. I would definitely say that I’m sentimental when it comes to being a pack-rat. I’ve tried to improve over the years, but sometimes when I’m cleaning stuff out, I would end up being distracted just LOOKING at the old letters/drawings/cards/notes/etc from the past.

    Also Keiko, what you said about keeping your old stuffed animals reminded me of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit– y’know the tale where the toy bunny becomes real after being loved? It’s nostalgically sweet that way. 🙂

    Also, you’ve made me feel bad about my stuffed animals hiding in the dark storage. Dang.

  14. that story made me cry.
    and i actually am not that sentimental. i did have a really hard time getting rid of stuffed animals and saved my favorites still. i used to line them up when i was little around my bed and felt guilty for loving one more then another. i eventually gave them to charity which made me feel better then throwing them in the trash

  15. i really have a hard time throwing away letters i got from people, and tickets to the cinema or theatre or museum. i still haven’t found a reasonable way of keeping them, i tried putting them into scrapbooks, and right now i got a nice box for them, but i am not really content with this solution either…

  16. I am not that much of a pack-rat when it comes to clothes but I am really sentimental concerning jewelry, letters, cards and books!
    I don’t give away any of my books, even if I didn’t really like them. It is so weird, I know! But I just can’t do it. The problem is that I usually buy A LOT of books. I think in 5 years they might need their own house haha

  17. i just can’t throw the socks away whose matching partner got lost in the washing machine, because i think maybe one day the lost sock will magically reappear and then his partner is dead 🙁

  18. I am sentimental. Glad of it though…
    Once, when I was at University a bunch of my friends and I went to a toy shop and we brought some silly toy cats that meowed. One didnt work, everyone laughed because it sounded like a dying donkey on crack but when we were heading to the checkout I said I needed the loo, looped back and picked him up.
    I couldnt bear to leave him there. Then when I was packing my room up after graduating from Uni I couldnt fit him into ANY of my bags. So rather than throw him away – I popped him in the dresser and left the drawer open (so he could get air) LUCKILY my boyfriend checked my room after i had left and scooped him up because I was DISTRAUGHT as soon as I got into the taxi to the airport.
    When I moved to Japan I removed 40% of my clothes and filled the suitcase with birthday cards, old maps, scribbled from my nephews, mix CDs and … a very special coaster. Beyond sentimental my dear. beyond.

    Glad the Mac is OK. I would miss you if you left.

  19. Keiko,

    That’s an awesome idea! I will definitely have to get a jump start on my photo-log this weekend.
    I hope I can still fit in at least half of those band tees. haha! *crosses fingers*

  20. You put into words the exact way I feel about vintage items. I always wonder who had them first and how much they cared for it and where it came from. I try to envision and respect the soul that is left in my special treasure.

    Great redo on the outfit. I think my grandma has a few shirts like that. =)

  21. I was always the super sentimental type when I was a kid. Birthday cards, valentines, you name it; it kept it. Things kinda of changed when I moved out on my own. I realized to make room for new stuff, I had to clear out the old.

    Lately though, I have really hard a hard time parting with clothes and shoes. While I know I will never wear some of the pieces again, I pains me to give something away when I know I an reconstruct it. GAH!

  22. I can be sentimental, but also incredibly scientific at times, too. I admire people who can see emotions in objects … sometimes that eludes me.

    Vester is such a handsome fella.

  23. I am very nostalgic, and a bit of a pack-rat, but I have a small apartment and hoarding runs in my family, so I try to be good about clutter.

    I would love being given old photographs, clothing, jewelry (especially jewelry!) from an estate. Your story made me want to come be friends with you so we could sift through the piles together and find treasures.

    My grandmother just went to a nursing home and I’m going back “home” to sort through her house this weekend before it gets sold. I’m excited, overwhelmed, and sad to do this.

  24. The blazer is absolutely lovely! I like the short sleeves. And I’m sure the lady would be thoroughly pleased her clothes are being loved by someone else.

    I’m fairly nostalgic sometimes and do have lots of things I would never get rid of. But equally, I’m not someone who lives in excessive amounts of clutter. I quite like the balance.

  25. I’m very sentimental. I keep all the letters, postcards, old toys,even cheques or some pieces of papper that remind me something sweet. On one hand it’s a good thing, but on the other… Sometimes there’s just too much stuff. Eh, well, I can’t change myself about that.
    P.S. I love the blazer.

  26. I am a thrower-outer, but I have this little bottle of perfume, shaped like a heart, called Blue Velvet, so old. Have had it since I was a little girl and although it does NOT smell nice anymore, I can’t seem to part with that bottle of perfume. I thought it was so fancy and wonderful when I was little.

  27. I agree to all what you have written. Old stuff keep the people in your mind, even if they are dead.
    I for example also possess the china which my deceased grandma got on the occasion of her engagement. It was orignally bought for 12 peoples and decreased more and more during the 2nd world war. How could I get rid off this even if I only use it once a year?

  28. I never throw out any of my old clothes either but it because I’m always hoping I’ll be inspired one day and sew it into something completely different and fall in love with it. Unfortunately I’ve yet to get the inspiration lol

  29. I’m very very very sentimental. I have a box full of letters from old friends. I’m sure some are dated early 1990’s! I still have a baby doll given to me when I was just a toddler. And a stuffed fox from my dad. And a reindeer. And… Well, I gave some of my stuffed toys to my daughter but she hasn’t cherished them as much as I have.

  30. I have a whole rack in my closet (the back rack) that is dedicated to vintage dresses and clothing I have made that I can’t seem to get rid of. Many of the dresses are from my grandmother and some of the others are extremely old. They all hold so much history It makes me feel lucky have them. Besides the dresses I have a vintage hat collection that started from the few I inherited from my grandmother as well, It has grown now and I love to wear the old hats out on the town.

    It’s hard to get rid of things that seem to hold so much history and meaning, especially coming from relatives that are no longer here.

    It’s funny, I have a tuxedo cat named Sylvester too and we call him vester most of the time. I love those well dressed cats. 🙂

  31. I forgot to mention….

    I still have some of my stuffed animals and dolls as well as baby blankets, yes I keep it all. My boyfriend is constantly trying to convince me to get rid of stuff. Boys just don’t understand.

  32. I thought I was the only one that didn’t want to throw away stuffed animals for fear of hurting their feelings. As a kid (and admittedly, till now), I made sure each one got their share of attention. I’m glad someone else shares my sentiments. Haha!

    Always great reading your blogs.

  33. I try really hard to not be sentimental about possessions – the one thing I would be devastated to lose is a charm bracelet that has belonged to my maternal grandmother, my mother and me – we’ve all added charms to it!

  34. I'm totally sentimental and nostalgic which is why I have 25 journals busting at the seams with papers, cards, theatre programs, photos, letters, post-it notes that were once stuck to my dorm door, receipts, old class schedules, movie tickets and every manner of written on materials that I just can't bare to part ways with. I might need to invest in some bigger book shelves…