I was surprised by the guests’ attire at my uncle’s service. To be sure, no one wore anything inappropriate. I was surprised, simply, by my memories and resultant expectations.
The event was held at the Hyannis Yacht Club, 3-5pm. No program, only drinks, food, and conversation. I had assumed that most people would arrive in the traditional garb of Cape Cod, and sailors, i.e. navy or Lilly for the women, Nantucket Reds, khakis, blue blazers, or Tommy Bahamas for the men. Like this.
Many of the men did arrive as predicted. And dapper they were, adorned by pocket squares like flags. Or in shorts. People sail in shorts, you know.
Some of the women, however, ventured on beyond navy, beyond pink and green. (By the way, I will not and would never venture an aesthetic judgment on the garb at this occasion. That would be brutally rude. Besides, everyone looked beautiful, especially as they hugged Win’s wife, and gave her their support and condolences.) Hammered silver cuffs joined traditional pearls and baskets.
I suppose because of the Cape’s emotional weight in our family, I’d invested the place with large meaning, and dressed the people like paper dolls in my mind. We all have an imaginary map called home, my culture may clothe the inhabitants a tad more specifically. But it’s been over 50 years since Mom played softball in Hyannis, and the Cape, like the world has grown more diverse. Even as Cape Cod dress took its place amongst other iconic styles, the Cape itself was doing what America does. Evolving. Red pants may not always mean red state.
Just before the event, my sisters, my daughter, and I found ourselves with a couple of hours at liberty. Giddy like sailors on leave, we headed to Main Street. First we ducked into a nail salon, thinking of pedicures, but the smell of chemicals was too strong. We ran out. Walked a little further down Main. And found ourselves at Puritan Cape Cod. Nice name, no? A local retail chain with several Cape locations. Almost 100 years old.
A half hour, and many cries of “This, no this!” later, we had bought a Magaschoni sweater for my sister’s birthday, and an Isda faux leather jacket for my daughter. My sister’s sweater is cashmere, tailored like a jacket, with a nice little back gather, and actual leather elbow patches.. She’s the academic. How perfect.
My daughter, a Sturdy Gal of the best sort herself, wanted something a little edgy. Ready to evolve. Et voilà a new jacket for the redhead. Worn, the collar is less daunting, the effect wholly fetching. Good for anything from shorts to ballgowns. No animals harmed in the making.
Now, I’d like to ask you a favor, if you would be so kind. Go over to the Puritan Cape Cod website and compare the men’s clothing to the women’s. The men’s offerings? Just what you’d imagine. The women? No. What we see so clearly is that women are the social laboratory of America. Our clothing is semaphore, flag code to communicate weather, currents, and other dangers.
No wonder we focus so much on clothes. Our concerns must not be shallow at all.
We left Main Street, my sisters, daughter and I, to take a peek at my mother’s family’s old house. We followed a long hedgerow lane, and peered into many driveways, but eventually had to call my aunt for directions. The house looks smaller, as one would expect, and fancier. I hope the residents didn’t mind our encroachment, but probably they were down at the beach. Or sailing.
They might have been sailing.
We ended the day, all the cousins and children, at the Green Harbor Resort. We sat on beach chairs drinking wine. I waded in the Atlantic, on crunching shells.
Even if we can’t go home again, it appears that women carry ‘home’ on our backs. Mine is still navy blue, worn now with platform wedges. I have no photos of myself from the weekend, but I can tell you that my enormous prescription Costco sunglasses produced an unexpected glamor, what with the pearls, the pulled-back hair, and something, probably, that I just can’t put my finger on.
Women’s navy polo dress, via Petit Bateau
Men’s Regatta Reds, via Puritan Cape Cod (they also sell Bill’s brand)
Men’s Tommy Bahama shirt, via Puritan Cape Cod
Women’s shift, similar at Lilly Pulitzer
ISDA faux leather and canvas jacket via Puritan Cape Cod
All other images mine.