What do our clothes say about us? For the moment, my sweat pants, hoodie, and black glasses say I’m a scrubby writer. A few years ago, my track clothes and stop watch said I was a coach—someone who cheered others on to accomplish their goals. Last week, my suit jacket and heels said I was a no-nonsense professional. But it’s not just my own clothes I notice. I adore watching people come and go in Grand Central Station, or at the airport in different cities in their vast array of wares. Even packs of high school kids coming and going—the rich kids in their labels, the Goths with nose rings in all black, the emo kids in their skinny girl jeans and retro sneakers.
Clothing isn’t just about our sense of style or the clique we belong to, they tell a story. I can see why Susan would feel compelled to not only collect vintage items in her own store, so loved and unique, but to also craft a novel around characters who once owned them. In fact, she did a wonderful job of using clothing in her novel as a metaphor:
One, in the form of April’s journey: The return of a wedding dress she never wore, a path she would never embark on.
Two in Amithi’s: She rounds up a pack of saris from her closet that she wore while married to a husband, who, she discovers, cheated on her. Her life felt like a lie, so she shed this layer by selling those items to begin anew.
Three, Violet, the woman running her consignment clothing store, wants all the clothes. There’s a void inside her. (She married an abusive husband in her past). You can’t help but wonder where the hole came from, or if it can be filled by the relics she collects. Violet can redefine herself daily if she chooses to, and does on some level, but she must find who she truly is.
Even the title is metaphorical. VINTAGE isn’t just the store or the items therein, but the past—the past all three of the protagonists must confront to move forward.
What do your clothes say about you?