16 minutes

everything we love is tied to a memory. even a t-shirt.


there are 16 random minutes of my life that, for some reason, i remember just about every day.

i don’t try to think about these things. they just pop up in my head.  there, then gone.

- laying with my grandparents and little sister in their king size half hard mattress/half waterbed, getting our backs scratched, watching the 10 o’clock news and andy griffith. - the bond that no child should be denied.

- practicing my violin in the powder room in robards, ky. - the acoustics. learning the lesson of loving to be alone.

- my dad pulling me off the hood of my brother’s car, bawling as he pulled out of the driveway to go to college. - love hurts.

- my aunt, uncle, cousins, mom, dad, sisters and brother piling in to one car to go to the movies. - families should stick together like an animal pack.

- my mom snuggling with me in her chaise lounge, whispering “today is a surprise day.” - mothers know what we need.

- my big sister getting off the airplane from raleigh, nc. - relief.  reunion.

- watching in awe at linda richards performing madonna’s “like a virgin” at my 6th grade end-of-school-year slumber party. - don’t be so concerned about what people think… just do it! and laugh your head off.

- reading a letter matt wrote me in 8th grade.  - friendship first.

- sitting at the lewis’ kitchen table. - the realization of friends being family.

- heating up ramen noodles in a dorm room. - comfort food kills misery.

- losing my keys in 1998. - i’m all over the place/calm down/breathe.

- packing for my first work trip to europe and then my brother repacking me. - all you need in life is a big brother, a pair of jeans and 6 white t-shirts.

- breakfast with mehmet ali in istanbul. - facing the truth.

- matt sitting on our friend michelle’s front steps. - whoa. matt eddmenson 20 years later.

- matt standing on the sidewalk on powell street with his granddaddy. - nausea/head rush/stomach butterflies.  what?

- sitting with matt on my front porch. - life as i knew it is over.  life has begun.


pretty much a memory blank after that visit on the front porch!



as random as this list is, here’s the reason i’m sharing:

i’ve come to my own conclusion that every one of the 16 minutes of flash memories haunt me in a good way –  they are like flash cards for basic life lessons.


every one of these moments tie directly back to a feeling, but that night my brother repacked me for europe ties back to a realization… all because of 2 objects: a pair of jeans. and a t-shirt.


my brother came over that night (sometime in the 90′s) to bring me some travel necessities: his leather bound travel journal and some roasted almonds that he mixed with dried blueberries.

frustrated as hell, i sat on the floor of my bedroom in front of my packed-to-the brim suitcase.

5 cities in 5 climates in about 5 days with meetings at each point that had something to do with fashion, all in lands that i didn’t know.

i had concocted a couple of different outfit options for each day.  and because of the DNA of a young woman, i had about 10 sets of shoes crammed in there, just in case.


my brother didn’t say much other than, “let me help you take away some stress.”


he took everything out of the suitcase.

and then he reloaded it sweetly and neatly with a pair of jeans and 6 white t-shirts… 5 of which he got out of my drawer, as well as 1950′s tattered t-shirt that he brought me as a gift.

he rolled up a cashmere sweater and tucked it on the side.  he minimized my toiletries and slid them in the back pouch.  he wedged in a pair of heels and a pair of boots in to the perfectly packed puzzle.

he closed the top, locked the 4 digit sliding code, and pulled the suitcase to the front door.

i don’t remember exactly what he said after all of that, but it was something like….

“your life just got a lot easier.”


and it did.

i never missed anything that i would have taken on that adventure.

i suddenly didn’t care what anyone would think about what i wore.

it’s like i took all of the layers off and just became me.



that’s 1 of about 16 minutes in my life that defined how i feel and who i am ok with being.

just me.  in a white t-shirt and jeans.


we all go through phases,  but i can say that i haven’t phased out of the uniform of a t-shirt and jeans.

since that night of the re-packing of the suitcase, i have pulled white t-shirts out of my mom and dad’s treasure trove attic. i have dug through dirty piles of junk in vintage warehouses searching for “the one”. And i have begged strangers to buy the t-shirt off of their back.  i also have bought new white t-shirts.  a lot of them.  but with all due respect – i’ve never found “the one.”


ironically, matt has always worn the same uniform.  he has a stack of sacred vintage tees, as well – - but he found himself in the past years going through 4 packs of hanes white tees like toilet paper.


we knew from the beginning that we would make the other piece to the uniform: the t-shirt for imogene+willie.

and we thought that it would be so easy.  however, we have learned that just because you know what you like, doesn’t mean that you can easily make it.

4 years have gone by… i think we nailed it.

giving my vintage shreds a break, i haven’t taken the women’s muscle tee sample off for 4 months.  i even sleep in it.  the girls on our team have followed suit test-wearing the muscle tee or the little box crew that was inspired by a shrunken naval tee out of my vintage stack.  they have all given their blessing.  they are converts.

but, matt was getting weary mid-stream.  he said one morning, “what if it’s still not just right?”

omg!  we all ignored him and told him to just keep wearing it.

finally, 6 weeks ago, he said, “ok.  i love it.”

his love for it gave us the green light.  we started production immediately.

the boxes arrived yesterday. today they’re in the shop.


here’s to hoping your life is about to get a lot easier.