“I can’t go to school without my nails done,” shouts Noa. “And I need a dress for today!” Is this a high school student? College? No, it’s my three-year-old granddaughter’s morning requests. I babysit once a week, also known as Formal Tuesdays with Nana. Where did Noa’s fashion sense come from? Is it generational?
It’s a typical Tuesday, and Noa and I were hanging around the house. She was in her formal black-tie dress and I in sweats and a tee-shirt. She decides my outfit will not do, and I must dress up for the occasion. Rummaging through my closet, I find an old sparkly gown from decades ago. I quickly dress up, and together we take what appears to be prom photos in front of the fireplace.
Nana and Noa
Formal Tuesdays With My Fashionista
This week, she insists I wear a dress for our Tuesday get-together of running around and playing.
This is stressful because I don’t think I own an everyday dress! Noa insisted that a skirt was unacceptable since “It is not a dress!” (said with emphasis) I must be a total annoyance to her with my Nana Jeans, Nana Sweaters, and Nana shirts.
Where did her love of black-tie attire come from? Is this love of clothes genetic? Perhaps, but it has skipped a few generations.
The paternal side of my family was in the garment district in New York City. Some sarcastically (and lovingly) called it the Schmatta business – more definitions are here. The true definition of schmatta is “rags,” but the garment center definition definitely had a twist.
I found this definition- Faux humility about luxury goods.
“Fascinatingly, on occasion, shmatte can also be used to express high-end brands. To go off our story about the rag trade, someone who worked in the luxury clothing industry may have said, “I work in the shmatte business” — and they didn’t mean tailor shops and sweatshops. Rachel Kahan, a book editor in Brooklyn, said, “We use it as a kind of fond diminutive for a fancy garment we really like: “Oh, this old shmatte? It’s vintage Diane Von Furstenberg.”
My Grandpa Leo was also a fashionista – If his sport jacket was lime green, so were his pants, suede shoes, and socks. His ties and shirts coordinated with each outfit. He often told me he shopped for my grandmother; she always looked beautiful. Perhaps, I am more like her with my casual attire, and Noa is channeling Grandpa Leo.
If I let my husband Mitch shop for me, I would be in overalls, camo shirts, hiking boots, and 1980’s hair, with no make-up. It’s a more effortless look but one I rarely achieve.
Gotta Love the Versatile Powersuit
Mitch is the opposite of my grandfather; he wears his “power suit” to most weddings. This is not a tux, but that doesn’t matter to Mitch. In his defense, it’s a great suit, but GEEZ, I wish he had some variety! I decided long ago that I would not stress out about Mitch’s wardrobe – as experienced marriage partners know, you need to pick and choose your battles, and there are so many other things I can battle about!
In the 70s, Mitch had a 3-piece polyester leisure suit – all the rage! Until my mother came to our home in Buffalo and tossed the suit without Mitch’s permission! I wish I had her moxie! Of course, it took decades for Mitch to get over that. I get it…
Back to Grandpa Leo. He founded Leo Dress in 1950. They started on 35th street and 8th ave. My dad took over the business in 1970 and eventually moved to the center of the garment center, with an entire floor at 501 7Th ave. By the time my dad retired, the company was one of the largest manufacturers of dress and sportswear in NYC. Their target audience was JC Penney and similar stores.
As a kid, I would receive a box with dresses for the year. Back in the Stone Age, girls were prohibited from wearing pants to school. Can you believe that? When we were finally allowed to wear “trousers,” my mom allowed me to wear a suit once a month – pants with a jacket.
The Distracted Receptionist
I worked in his office for three summers as the distracted receptionist. I used an old-school adding machine and typewriter. But mostly, I waited for my lunch break to stroll the city streets and meet friends for lunch. Growing up, I always thought I would live and work in NYC.
So here I am in 2023 with my granddaughter Noa. And I am back to thinking about fashion. I bought a pair of white boots ( A direct copycat of my Sister-in-law, who is also a fashionista), and Noa was the first to comment on them. We actually talk about clothes and nails and hair! She’s three and inspiring me to “Step it up!”
Now, don’t start me on purses – My Grandpa Leo would be Kvelling over my collection!
So that’s the truth about formal Tuesdays. I love this generational stuff.
9 thoughts on “The Truth About Formal Tuesdays With Nana Is About To Be Revealed.”
The.leisure.suit! Hilarious! I’ll have to compliment Noa on her attire next time I see her in the hood. Of course by then it will be nice weather and she maybe be over the formal wear!
Lol’ thank you!!! Looking forward to walking the hood with warmer weather or at a minimum, Sunshine! Thanks for reading and commenting ❤️
I loved this story. John Travolta has nothing on mitch Rubinstein. Thanks for the laugh and the smile
Thank YOU! For the laugh. I’ll let John , I mean Mitch , know! Thanks for reading!
What a lovely day you had with Noa. I’m not a fan of dressing up, I prefer sweats like you, but I will admit to enjoying it on occasion. You cleaned up quite nicely!
Love the photo of you and Mitch and his suit! And what a cool story about your grandfather’s business and getting to work there for three summers. Living and working in NYC is at a different pace for sure.
I always thought I would live in New York City. Buffalo was never even in my vision! But as you know, you never know how things will turn out. And I am glad they turned out the way they did. Thanks for reading,Ab
That was a charming story!
Thank you! ❤️