A key aspect of our identity is how we present ourselves. Whether you think about it or not, the color of the shirt you wore today, or if you decided to wear jeans instead of sweatpants, says so much about who you are as an individual. Because of this, we often end up putting a lot of meaning into our outfits or the individual items of clothing we own.
I love fashion, and my style is constantly changing. This means that at least twice a year, I go through my clothes to donate the pieces I do not wear so I can make room for new items. If you’re like me, this can sometimes be very difficult. Even if I have not worn a shirt for months or even years deciding whether or not to keep it becomes almost impossible to do.
As I have gotten older, this has become a lot easier because I’ve been able to separate myself from the clothing item. Now, I try to remember that the person who receives this item could need it a lot more than I do. But still, sometimes, I find those pieces of clothing buried in the deep depths of my room, and when I try to let go, all I can think about is that one niche specific fun moment with my friends.
There are some items that I just can’t part with. Even though it’s just cloth, for some reason, it feels like a part of me. When you have something that has grown with you literally since middle school, it can be hard to let go. I have a couple of these items, the most significant being a vintage Syracuse University crewneck.
This crewneck has the most perfect fit, almost like it was made for me. It’s the most exquisite light heather gray, almost white, with “Syracuse” written in blue across large SU letters in orange. Did I mention it goes with literally everything? For a more chill look, I love to pair it with some black yoga pants, and maybe if I am feeling a more matching sweatsuit athleisure vibe, I’ll pair it with matching joggers. I can dress it up with a pair of jeans or a midi skirt, if I’m feeling adventurous. But most importantly, my crewneck has seen it all. It was my go-to coverup for musical and drama club practice, and it’s now become a lounging-around staple.
You’re probably wondering how I obtained this perfect crewneck of mine. Well, I stole it. (Kind of.) Almost every day after school, I would go to my grandparents’ house. Some nights my dad would have meetings and I would be there pretty late. It was after a long day at school and all I wanted to do was throw on some comfortable clothes. So I wandered into the guest bedroom and rummaged through the dresser. I found a crewneck and some sweats. It was love at first wear.
The clothes in the dresser previously belonged to my Aunt Marie. My Aunt Marie was the eldest daughter of my dad and his siblings. She had passed away 24 years ago from lupus, an autoimmune disease that has no cure. I happen to be the oldest daughter among my siblings so my middle name is Marie in her honor, a tradition I hope to carry on with my own children.
Like myself, Marie had a passion for fashion, and this Syracuse University crewneck is just one example of her impeccable style. Marie hoped to study fashion at FIT in NYC but could not go that far away from home because of her illness. She was able to attend Cazenovia College for a little bit but ended up having to drop out due to her worsening sickness.
I never had the chance to meet Marie, but to me, this crewneck reminds me of her legacy. My family means everything to me, and this crewneck helps me honor that. Clothes can help us define who we truly are. The traditions of our cultures, certain beliefs we have, or other traits can be defined by how we dress. My crewneck means so much to me because it does all of these things.
Its history shows how I value my family and those who came before. It celebrates the area where I am from. It encapsulates my appreciation for vintage clothing and thrifting. It also pays tribute to my love for comfort and lounging — I mean, I did first wear this crewneck for an afternoon nap.