Sparking Joy Since 2002

A Vintage Skirt Story

In March of 2002, I traveled alone to Kyoto, Japan, on my way back to Los Angeles, California, from the Philippines. It was a last-minute decision to extend my stopover by a week, and I’m so grateful that I did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the chance to experience Japan for the first time (sans Tokyo), and I wouldn’t have met the skirt that would become a wardrobe staple over the next 15+ years.

Japan is a sartorial wonderland especially if you’re a young woman with a smaller body size (think size eight and under). However, for someone like me—roughly a size 10 to 12 most of my life—clothing can be tricky, and plus size there already starts at size 10. And it’s hard to find decent clothing in that size except for certain department stores with a limited selection. Fortunately, vintage clothing available in Japan offers more variety in terms of sizing, and since my tween years, I always shopped vintage and thrift. Japan was no exception.

I don’t know how I stumbled upon this one vintage clothing store in Kyoto, the cultural capital. I wandered the streets daily and discovered the hipper parts of town. I came across this one carefully curated shop, and lo and behold was this granny-ish, seemingly hand-crocheted vintage skirt. In actual words, the skirt sounds like the most unstylish garment in the world: an off-white floral pattern, framed by grey lines and a sea foam green background. But I swear, every season when I start wearing it from fall to the beginning of spring, I get stopped on the street and asked about it. I brought the skirt with me when I moved to Germany from New York City so it has lived officially on three continents and has crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

In terms of holding up to the wear (and tear), the skirt has occasional loose threads that I need to weave back into the design, but other than that, it’s held up rather well. Apart from a few other trusty items in my closet and storage, this skirt has been one of my oldest and dearest garments. Trends have come and gone, and the skirt remains eternally stylish. Even my body size has changed, and the skirt manages to fit me like it did when I first bought it. I suppose the elastic waist band helps a bit, too. 

There have never been any plans to donate, sell or gift it, and if Mari Kondo ever asks me about it, I will tell her this skirt sparks unbelievable amounts of joy. In fact, unlike most of my wardrobe, I hope to hold on to this joy when I’m a granny myself. I’ll let you know how it turns out in 30 years or so. -Sabrina Cooper