At the dawn of a new semester, as summer nights slowly transition into autumn evenings and classes begin anew, feelings of foreignness and isolation begin to trickle in. We turn to the familiar, where we belong: home. The definition of home differs from person to person, and rightly so. The heterogenous variety of experiences that shape humanity is part of what gives us spice, a spark of life. Thus, the definition of heirlooms—tokens, accessories, pieces of clothing from relatives and family—varies as well.
In a sea of academia that is both familiar and alien, I find myself turning towards my family to guide me through. No, I’m not calling home every night—though my mother might appreciate that—nor am I constantly daydreaming of what I’d be doing if I were home. Instead, I find myself wearing my great-grandmother’s pearl ring, my dad’s vintage Grateful Dead tie, or even my grandfather’s gold chain.
Just last week as I was dreading my government exam, I started rotating the ring on my finger. Drawn from my stressful reverie, I looked at my finger and studied it. Here was tangible proof that I was not alone, nor would I ever be. Whether or not the individual had passed was irrelevant; in life, they supported me and my endeavors, and this heirloom, this token of life, was a symbol of that love and support.
Simply wearing that ring allowed me to draw upon an internal strength to make it through that study session. For all the readers out there who find themselves wishing for a piece of home, I challenge you to look to your closets and knick-knack drawers. Small items such as a necklace, time piece or bracelet can be small tokens of home. Tokens that can both augment your fashion style and allow you a moment to feel grounded in love, in your home.
Incorporating such pieces is a testament to both the past and the future. The present is nothing to dread or fear. Grounding yourself in the present by wearing an heirloom represents both a token of past strength as well as the current. Who knows, maybe in the future you will pass on that token and be the strength for someone else.
Some current vintage trends that are in style include neck scarves, bright floral prints and leather jackets scored from someone in your family or the Goodwill. Fashion icons such as Liz Taylor, James Dean and Princess Diana are also influencing street style. Look through your family attic and see what treasures you can unearth.
If not, check out your local thrift stores and vintage shops to find pieces that may not be familial heirlooms but have meaning for you. This week, my fashion lovelies, at the beginning of a new semester, shake up your closet, add a little of the past and allow it to ground you in your new environment. Know that this is both familiar and formidable territory, aided by the way you express yourself, and with help from your family and friends, you shall persevere.