Whenever a trend comes back into swing again, I always find myself asking, “When was the last time we saw this? Do I have access to any of those previous iterations, and if not, where would I find one?” For example, kimonos and lingerie robes have made it onto the streets everywhere, and I am so here for it. However, before I storm into Topshop or scour Etsy for the newest satin fringe robe, I am always sure to ask my mom if she possesses such an equivalent—mostly because if I do slam my card down and come back with a brand-new satin dressing something without checking with her first, she’d probably just roll her eyes and say, “You know I have one of those I can give you, right?” Clearly I've learned this from experience.
Well, this robe might not have fringe on it (who needs that anyway?), but it is quite precious to me anyway. This piece was a gift to my grandma Luz from my Auntie Nene, who worked as a seamstress in the Philippines. Back then, it was common for middle class families to have their clothes made bespoke. If the seamstress wasn’t already a family member, she was often treated like one, cultivating a relationship with the women of the family that lasted for decades.
Wearing heirloom pieces is a beautiful way of honoring your family and/or heritage. For me, it's about rooting my existence in something deeper, something more resonant. This gold robe is one such precious garment--it's a piece of family history rooted in cultural relationships much older than myself. I wear it everywhere—to the office, to coffee crawls with Naomi (pictured here), to a night out with friends, to bed. Here I’ve thrown it on top my favorite T-shirt and jean combination--a summer uniform if I ever saw one.
You might ask me, “Lindsey, if you value this garment then wouldn’t you be more sparing with your use of it?” I’ve thought long and hard about this question and have come to the conclusion that there’s no use in owning something if you don’t put it to good use. The same applies to pearls, furs, gowns, and heels: if you don't have an event to wear it to, make one up! I digress. Walking around wearing an heirloom piece says that I acknowledge where I've come from, and I'm not afraid of bringing that into my everyday life. (It is also, by extension, a commitment to a certain standard of wardrobe maintenance, but that's a different story).
Robes are special, intimate things, but they are also ordinary things. I enjoy the family symbolism just as much as the little luxuries of wearing such bright, sensual things in public. A woman wearing an intimate robe in a public space could simply mean a little extra shine in her day.
Or it could be that she’s been wearing her (Filipina) heart on her sleeve.
Photo credit: Naomi Andrews