Off the Rack: A Time Traveler's Closet
Updated: May 4
What girl wouldn’t want a few extra clothes; especially at someone else’s expense? How about a closet full of them?
In Dear Maude, Emily Stanton isn’t like most girls, however, and no one would ever accuse her of being a fashionista. Jeans, T-shirts, and hair ties strong enough to hold a ponytail are all she ever needs, that is until she becomes more acquainted with her roommate, Sophia. In a matter of weeks, Sophia takes Emily from denim to high fashion. Although the transformation is subtle at first, it is effective and long-lasting. Good thing, because her wardrobe is as important in Emily’s future as water and air but as fleeting as the wind. Too bad she doesn’t ask a few more questions.
When I wasn’t with Gerd, I spent the remainder of my time with Sophia, who started taking me everywhere with her, similar to a dog in a purse. She panicked whenever she couldn’t get in touch with me and literally cried when I made plans that didn’t include her. I joked about being her boyfriend substitute; worse, she shared so much of her wardrobe with me that I looked like her twin or some kind of charity case. Still, I was too in love with Gerd to question her motives.
—Excerpt from Dear Maude
When her employer, Evergreen Research Corporation, trains her to be an expert in 1910 society, Emily is exposed to the clothing of the period. These include the habit used for riding side saddle, as discussed in my post, Riding Sidesaddle: Why not face the world head on?, as well as her nemesis, the dreaded corset. But these are just the beginning. From the 1700s to present day, Emily amasses quite the wardrobe and isn’t afraid to wear her well-earned vintage items.
Without the need to conform to any particular time frame in my new underground home, I could wear whatever clothes I chose. A few years prior, I would have resorted—without question—to my jeans and a T-shirt in that same situation; and I still did on occasion, including the previous day. But now, given the chance and the wardrobe, I found that a combination of eras was most comfortable. Some days, I chose fashionable dresses of the 1920s to 1950s with mixed and matched accessories from all periods; other times, I wore a combination of clothes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras that embodied a steampunk-like quality, minus a corset. Regardless of the era of clothing, my undergarments remained thoroughly modern—panties and bra from my time, and never a corset. Aside from that, each piece in my wardrobe was authentic, despite the combination of eras. History was my closet, and I loved it.
That particular occasion, I paired an off-white tea-length dress from the 1920s with a well-fitting pair of red leather Italian slingbacks from the 1930s. Although I was looking for comfort and not style, my outfits always seemed to work together.
I consulted the mirror to admire my newest combination. ‘I’m scaring myself with my fashion sense!’ A strand of crystal beads cascaded down my back to my waist. I’d brushed my hair straight, then drew it over my left shoulder so it could flow down the front of my dress. The ends descended below my elbows.
‘It has grown out nicely!’
I turned to study my profile. ‘Who would have thought that I, Emily Stanton, would ever be able to coordinate anything involving fashion?’ I smiled. ‘Mom won’t recognize me when I finally get to see her.’
—Excerpt from Forever Maude
Emily’s wardrobe might not be the only surprise she has in store for Mom, should they meet again.
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Next time, I’ll resurrect the dead, so to speak.