A Closet Full of Memories: A review of Love Loss and What I Wore

Reviewer: Kristine Gotham

Venue: Bay City Players

Based on a book by Ilene Beckerman, Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron’s play, Love, Loss and What I Wore, opened at Bay City Players last evening. Six women portray fifteen different women in twenty-eight scenes or memories in which the clothes she wore were the main focus of the night or just the conduit for the memory.  Memories of wearing a favorite dress that Mom made, seeing  step-mom in a robe that is exactly like mom’s except for the color, buying a prom dress you hate and buying one you love the next year, help audiences to connect with the women on stage, to recall their own memories and feelings about the clothes that have passed through their closets.

All women can relate to hearing, “you’re not going to wear that, are you?”, and “go upstairs and change immediately”, and “you look so pretty in that color”.  Our clothes can remind us of happy times, wearing your favorite sweater out to lunch the day that he proposed.  Our clothes can also remind us of sad times that we would like to forget, wearing that blouse that your best friend gave you and remembering that she is gone now, taken far too young.  Our clothes can also bring on feelings of nostalgia, wearing the flannel shirt that belonged to your dad.  Our clothes can be a barometer of how we are feeling that day, bright sunny colors bring a smile to our face, while dark, cloudy colors help us to fade into the background, unnoticed by those around us. Our clothes are our identity and our armor.

There are times when it seems that our clothes are our enemy.  It doesn’t fit!  This would fit if I lost 5 pounds.  This would fit if I had bigger boobs…if I were taller…if I had more of a shape.  Often we find ourselves hiding in our clothes, rather than trying to stand out.  When we are young, we put on the thigh high olive leather boots and the short skirt, but as we get older, we choose only black clothes and flat, sensible shoes.  

This play isn’t just about clothes.  It is about women and the relationships that they have in their lives.  Remembering  going to the store with mom to buy our first bra, or wearing that sweater because it was something that told the world we were with him, or putting on the robe that mom brought us after our mastectomy.  Those people were a vital part of our identity at the time and the clothes were woven into that relationship.

From the cast, to the directors, to the crew, this performance was completely real.  Every person in the audience could relate to feeling good about the clothes they have worn or feeling bad, and remembering those people who were a part of their lives when they wore them. Think about your closet.  What do you have saved in the back that you just can’t throw away?  Why?  What memory does it bring back for you?  

Love, Loss and What I Wore is on at Bay City Players this weekend, November 11-12, and again next weekend, November 17-19. 

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