Grandma love: “Is that a new blouse?”

My friend Claire recently c0-launched a lady-focused page called Scotch and The Fox. The endeavor is lovely one, showing that women can write (and live) in a powerful, feisty, sweet, opinionated and ambitious way (I’m doing a little guest posting there).

Claire started this week off with a post on the development of her personal style, and as I wrote a short piece on my own style journey, I couldn’t help but think about my grandma.

Même passed away a little more than two years ago.  My clothing choices were always far too wild for the woman, so I wouldn’t say I developed my style after her. The woman also hated shopping. So why do I think of her when the topic of style comes up? It isn’t because  her clothes spoke to her conservative, Catholic core. It is more so in the fact that I will always think of her when I put on a new sweater or slip into a new dress.

Let me explain.

When my uncle spoke at her funeral, he recalled Même’s tendency to lead conversations with statements like, “Is that a new blouse?” no matter how tattered your shirt was. Even on days mom went over “wearing rags” to clean my grandparent’s house, Même would ask if she had a new outfit on.

It wasn’t that my grandma was blind or so far behind the times that she couldn’t tell old from new. No, Même opened with this line the way most Minnesotans open conversations with talk of the weather. She usually didn’t follow with an outright complement of your attire, either. Just the opposite, she often gave a slight reprimand for your obvious shopping addiction (if the shirt happened to be new). But, her intentions were always good. I believe she often found it difficult to connect with people. She wasn’t a huge conversationalist. Asking about someones wardrobe was her way of showing interest in that person’s life. These openings were honest and loving in the way that her need to feed you snacks an hour after dinner was.

You can head over to Claire’s site for a look into my style journey. It’s been a long one, and I’m sure it isn’t over yet. But, no matter what I’m wearing, whenever someone asks me if it’s new, I get a little misty-eyed.