SCENE | My Father's Closet


My tomboy childhood was spent clung to my dad's leg, literally and figuratively. I was his shadow. Everything he did, I wanted to do. When I'd see his car pull in from work I'd hide in his closet. When he walked in I'd announce in a deep ghastly voice, "This is the voice of DOOM speaking!" He played along and feigned fright each and every time and then we'd both laugh. His closet began to fascinate me. When my parents would go out for the evening, I'd lurk around organizing his neckties by color or stripe or label, clink around his cuff links, page through his old baseball card collection, thumb the stacks of dress shirts folded from the dry cleaners, stuff his silk pocket squares into different blazers to see how they looked, gleam at the white linen handkerchiefs perfectly ironed in a drawer, marvel at his bowl of foreign coins, breathe in the intoxicating (and toxic) aroma of shoe polish, and practice tying Half-Windsors on our golden retriever—a skill I mastered before my older brother, I'm proud to say. His closet is the perfect balance of chaos and order. My husband and I were recently talking about how there's nothing better than a father's closet, even now as adults, it's still a magical place—and one that I still sneak into now and again. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

I'd love to know, do you have a memory or memento from your dad's closet?

22 comments:

KK said...

I'm pretty sure you still dress up your dog in ties too! KK

LUCEWOMAN said...

My dad had the most exquisite 1970's designer leather jacket right through to the mid nineties. I think he got a good deal on it or something. My boyfriend lived in it and I can't remember what became of it when we split. I swear it still smelt of 'new' leather, and it had no less than 5 secret inner pockets within the satin lining.

Lizzie said...

Secret pockets! Why don't women's blazers have interior pockets? They are so helpful.

Sara said...

Jeans with a hammer loop! He is a Mr. Fix-It type, and I have great memories of going with him to the hardware store. He'd tell me to hold on to the hammer loop, so I wouldn't get lost. I distinctly remember reaching UP to grab hold of the loop, that's how small I must have been! The smell of new lumber always reminds me of him, and walking next to him in the hardware store. :)

Lizzie said...

Holding on to his hammer loop is too cute! Love it!

Kels said...

My sister and I bought my Dad ties for every Father's Day, Birthday, and Christmas. He had so many beautiful ties in his closet, all thanks to my sister and I!

Lara said...

What a great memory! There is just something about dad stuff, isn't there? I used to borrow a suede patched sweater of my dad's in middle school--on the sly, even though he never wore it anymore.

Christine said...

that is too funny- my sister and I would also hide in our dad's closet when he got home from work. I remember being surrounded by ties and dress shirts....such great memories!

alison said...

The best thing about my dad's wardrobe was all the things he never wore anymore that hinted at a secret past. The paisley silk tie. The biker jacket. The orange nylon shirt. The big tan leather belt, which I nicked when I was 18 - I'm not sure he's even noticed it's gone. And the wardrobe smelled like him, the most comforting smell in the world.

julia said...

When I think of my dad's closet I think of the wonderful leather smell from his Ropers.

Ringo, have a banana! said...

My Dad is an old hippie and a farmer, and his clothes have always been quite practical to his profession: piles of rough, faded work jeans, worn old t-shirts, scratchy wool shirts and pilled flannels. The one thing that always stood out the most to me when I was a kid was his belt buckle. It was big and heavy and metallic and had an eagle's face in the style of the Pacific Northwest Indians on it, like part of the totem poles I visited in Alaska in 7th grade. I still have no idea where he got it from, or why he stopped wearing it.

itztru said...

My father passed away nearly 30 years ago, so his clothes were gone long before I could reach out to claim them. However, there's a scent to his clothing that lingers in my mind...a pleasant, comforting smell that said "Daddy's home from work" in his crisp white shirt, dark trousers and black socks. Although I have a brother, as the appointed keeper of the flame in the family, I not only inherited his bamboo fishing rod, musical instruments and golf clubs,I was given his "box of things". Just an ordinary, rectangular gift box that he kept in one of his dresser drawers. It was filled with random items that he saw as important. A sand dollar, my brother's cub scout scarf holder, a postcard I sent him from Europe. It said more about the man than any of us ever could.

Anonymous said...

Sperry Shoes and brown leather jacket

AmaK said...

Golf sweaters of the v-neck variety...he had ivory, burgundy, and navy. I think I wore them more than him. Plus I loved his handkerchiefs- so soft and comforting. I still have one tucked away in a drawer.

future reference said...

My dad kept the family's sleeping bags in his closet in wait for the next of our many camping trips, but really it was his dresser that I remember. The top drawer is like a box of mementos- my baby teeth, pics of him and my mother when they were very young, folded red and blue bandannas, small mysterious boxes... That's the space I'd furtively explore when I thought no one was looking.

Anonymous said...

I nicked several things from my dad's closet in the jr/high school years: an olive green army shirt with our last name on the lapel, his Led Zeppelin concert T, and his JEANS. In the 80s, high waisted jeans were the only ones available, so I wore my dad's - the waist was in a much better spot! And his handmade, stainless steel peace sign necklace - made by him in Viet Nam. My dad loves music and got into "new wave" music long before I did. He bought me a U2 concert T on their first tour of America and took me to see Talking Heads when I was 12. - Queen Lucia

piilomaja said...

Black leather coat, always some coins in the pockets;-)

Nomadic D. said...

My dad was a very large man, so while I still have actually tons of his clothes (couldn't bear to part with them), the only two items I regularly wear are an oversized cream-colored button down shirt with thin stripes on it, and a pink and green striped silk tie which I use as a belt with my jeans sometimes. Both make me so happy to wear, like I'm somehow getting a hug from him again.

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Am I really the first commenter to say that your dad is a total silver fox?

Tina said...

I wore my dad's old army pants until I completely wore them out!

Ari said...

Love the visuals of you thumbing through the closet. Father's closets are the best.

My dad's closet was where I first saw a gun (the shotgun he has to protect our house), where I clomped around in his giant sandals and T-shirts, and organized his work shirts for him. Recently I turned his old shirts into skirts, rather than let my mom make them into rags. Every one of them has a strong memory of Daddy-daughter dates. Love them.

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