In Her Words: Jane Mobley
My British war bride mother was mindful toward clothes. Meditative, really. Packing away wools in mothballs, shaking out linen for the iron, tying the sash of my polished cotton school dress, she would murmur what I remember as her clothing mantras:
“Beautiful fabric goes anywhere.” “The way you feel when you wear something, that’s what matters.” And, most often, “Really good clothes have a life of their own.”
Once, peering at a garment she’d turned seam-side out, she said, “It’s like armor, darling – should be so well-made no arrow can get through.” Now I’ve had years to think about it, I am sure she meant the Arrows of Judgment–– those darts we suspect are aimed right at us, wherever we go, whatever we wear.
Blame media, blame our mothers, blame mean girls, blame the X chromosome. However it happens, most women, young and old, fear what we think other people think about how we look in what we have on. I want to say the worry dims with age, but I haven’t found that to be true. Not yet, anyway.
For example, my swimwear self in a store fitting room mirror has long seemed a vision so scary that, like more and more of us, I order online to try suits at home. So, when I show up happily to the Helen Jon “confidence” photo shoot, I am picturing myself in a resort-ready caftan.
Imagine my surprise to hear the theme of the shoot will be something like “HJ Everywhere.” Everywhere, as in outdoors, in public places not related to swimming. I see these notes on the “shot list:” Jane is walking dog on residential street. Jane is shopping in neighborhood grocery store.
Oh, no, no, Jane is not. The last time Jane wore a swimsuit in public without water nearby is decades ago. Nope, I say to myself. Then aloud. Quite loud. NOPE. That is not happening. I can’t do it. I’m handed a pile of HJ clothes anyway.
Here comes the magic––and the remember mom moment. True story, the HJ fabric is so beautiful and the pieces so wonderfully made, I can feel the energy. They are so good, they seem to have a life of their own.
Suddenly, I think, “Sure I can. All I have to do is go along. These suits will go anywhere.” And they do.
A navy swimsuit and I walk the dog. The pup needs constant adjustment, but the suit never does, it fits so well. A rash shirt and board shorts slip on over the suit and we all shop for veggies and fruit. I find I’m smiling at other shoppers because I feel a little bit fabulous. Unusually self-assured. Even sassy.
What came over me? My mother would say the confidence of really good clothes.
She was right about well-made. Comparing swimwear to armor doesn’t seem a compliment, not for suits as supple and comfortable as HJ. But I can honestly promise, if there were arrows, none got through.