Closet of the past

Closet of the past

Karishma Mehrotra

The Lace Museum shows how trends of the past are relevant today


Our parents used to wear Converse, high-waist jeans have been around forever, and gothic clothing came from the era when Queen Victoria mourned her husband’s death.


The fashion we pay big bucks for can be found in our grandmother’s closet because the truth is, "new" styles are recycled from the past, whether we like it or not.


Take the Lace Museum, which you probably have not heard of, for example. The Lace Museum is a tiny display of vintage lace clothing and decorations. Nestled in a classroom-sized area on 552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, the Lace Museum may be empty of any noise, but every wall and section is adorned with pinned-up classic items that we only spot in our history textbooks. When you enter, the museum’s delicate, elaborate and humble presentation of the years way before our time catches your eyes before talking with the guide volunteer. 
Walking through the area with lace tablecloths, nightgowns, petticoats, and other decorations of the era, it is easy to pinpoint how fashion has changed from our grandparents’ era. Teenage girls don’t own night gowns and they no longer attach metal under their dresses to make them poofy. We can also see the changes of our fashion overall. First, we don’t make our own clothes anymore. Second, modern fashion has made profit with what’s comfortable and affordable instead of constricting fanciness and over-priced pieces. 


But even with these apparent differences, the fashion in our society relies heavily on past inspirations. Stores like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 market designs with characteristics from the Victorian era, with lace design and dainty flower prints that are shockingly similar to those at the museum.  Look even deeper and hippie influence in peace signs and vibrant colors are visible all over our outfits. Aviators, legwarmers, military jackets, and skinny jeans show how our fashion realm is essentially from the past.

No matter the conceptual transitions from the era of lace and night gowns, the specific nuances of fashion continue to come back. One may not see a lace shawl on the arms of a teenager, but perhaps a modern twist on a vintage blouse shows how subtly we have snatched the past.

Lace museum is located at 552 S. Murphy, Sunnyvale. Visit for more information.