I loved my father-in-law, but fashion was just not his thing. I once sent him a beautiful sage green sweater for Christmas and even though my husband warned me it would happen, I was shocked when he was a total curmudgeon about it. He called it utterly ridiculous and questioned my sanity (related note: warm fuzzies were also not his thing). Work pants, khakis, polos, and sweaters all in the tones of beige, brown, and tan were his tried-and-true. He only paid attention to brands when it came to buying power tools or cars, and like the green sweater, thought my collection of heels was utterly ridiculous.
Upon his passing a bit over year ago, Steve and I flew to New Zealand, where my husband is from. Imagine my surprise when – hanging behind the sea of utilitarian pants and sensible wool sweaters – I discovered a pristine gray Hermes blazer with satin lining just collecting dust! My cantankerous, rugby-playing, no-nonsense, quintessentially kiwi FIL who could not even handle a flipping sage green sweater owned this stunning designer piece! (Did I mention it is mother effing HERMES?!?!) Luckily, I am the only fashionista in the bunch and my kiwi family are generous souls, so that now this gorgeous blazer belongs to me.
Over a year and a half later however, this poor topper has been hanging in the back of my closet collecting dust yet again. I have just never figured out a way to wear it that felt, “right.” It wasn’t the fit. I wear baggier blazers than this all the time. It wasn’t the color either. Gray is a staple in not just my clothing, but throughout my home as well. It boiled down to my cherished memories of the person attached to the blazer, even if he was a big ol’ curmudgeon. I didn’t want him looking down and thinking that I looked, well, utterly ridiculous.
I turned to my brilliant stylist friend, Will of House of Owl, and the site of our upcoming event, Rags Consignment. He was able to come up with different ways to wear this amazing blazer using pieces I already owned combined with his amazing Rags finds. He even had me throw it on over my #OOTD that consisted of a vintage Izod turtleneck sweater, vintage belt, and wide leg trousers from Asos. Will will be getting into his styling thought process in a later post, so stay tuned.
I ended up purchasing the Dries Van Noten hand painted sweater, which was a no brainer. I saw it hanging on the rack and knew immediately that it was coming home with me regardless of whether it worked for the blazer. I also purchased the Elie Tahari ombre pink pants, which was surprising as I had the exact opposite reaction to these than the DVN sweater (dare I say I thought they were a bit ridiculous…..). But I decided to trust Will’s eye and I am so glad I did, because the moment he was done styling, I knew I found a fresh way to style blazers that work for my working mom lifestyle. BONUS that I was able to purchase both items with credit I had accumulated. Side Note: Elie Tahari is one of my favorite brands to find at thrift and vintage stores. What I do not keep for myself, I use to make a profit at places like Rags or other consignment stores.
I am happy to report that I have gotten over my hurdle of wearing this blazer. Working with Will helped me see that my styling options are limitless and there is no “right” way to wear it. From a belted, professional look to the last layer in a casual jeans and graphic tee outfit, I no longer view this blazer as too precious, either literally or sentimentally. It is ok to have emotional attachments to items, such as clothes or jewelry, but the way to honor those emotions, and the memory of the people tied to those items, is to give them new life.
And though I LOVE that I have this blazer as a memento of my father-in-law, the best thing about it is that when I found it, it was hanging it in the back of his closet right in front of the offensive sage green sweater. The tags still attached and everything.
Images by Breezy Ritter