What are you wearing right now? Chances are, there will be a story of some kind attached: why you bought it, when you've worn it, how you hate having to wear heels. Clothes might seem superficial, until you start unravelling the endless stories we stitch into them.
The play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, written by Nora and Delia Ephron, uses rotating casts of actresses to tell the stories of life, one item of clothing at a time. The Globe spoke to four of the women involved in the play's upcoming Toronto run starting July 16, and put the question to them: What are you wearing right now?
Cynthia Dale Actress Wearing: Running shoes, grey workout shorts … And: "My favourite grey T-shirt. I just finished my hour of power at the cottage. I have 50 favourite grey T-shirts! You still want to look good while you're getting sweaty and gross. Or you want to feel good." Favourite piece in the play: "I don't think I have one yet. I probably will by the end of the play. It's musings on life. [Clothing]says so much about you, which is what we all love and we all hate about clothes. Love: "Obviously, I'm a fashionista. I love clothes. There's also a vulnerability about it. You have to expose yourself to admit a) I love clothes, because b) does that make me shallow, or current, or hip, or stupid? I think it's d) all of the above. Take me back to 10 momentous occasions in my life and I'll tell you what I had on. I've certainly kept things that I'll never wear again. I have things from when I met Pete [Mansbridge, her husband] things I wouldn't wear from the eighties. I have my first communion dress. Some things you just don't get rid of."
Andrea Martin Actress Wearing: A white cotton spaghetti-strap dress, pink cashmere sweater, Lucca heels … And: "A ring on my right hand, on the fourth finger, I've had since I was 12 years old. My mother gave it to me. It's her engagement ring my father gave her in 1946. If I wear jewellery, I lose it, but it is the one item that I have never misplaced or lost. If you look with a magnifying glass, it still says, 'John loves Sybil.' It is almost worn off. I love it. If you ever look at press photos, it's always there." Play highlight: "There's a piece I do called 'I Hate My Purse.' I really have been frustrated over the years, trying to find something in my purse, or surprised to see something still exists. It's always far too big, or far too small." What I wore: "Clothing can conjure up such potent memories. When my ex-husband and I were getting divorced in California, we had mediators. We were very close and it was very amicable, but [when it was being finalized, my mediator]called me and said, 'Why don't you make sure you wear pink. It's a very healing colour.' Since then, when I feel I need to be comforted, or kind of vulnerable, I put pink on. It does help. It's a very pure, innocent colour. It makes me more grounded."
Delia Ephron Playwright Wearing: A black V-necked T-shirt, a black band around her arm due to "mouse elbow" from too much computer use … And: "A pair of black denim legging things I bought because I finished a novel I was working on. I often celebrate finishing something by going shopping. It's not a big splurge." Favourite piece in the play: "The piece that's called 'Thin' is based on my life. I was the skinniest girl ever. Even though no one has any sympathy for it, it was a nightmare." Loss: "By the time you're tiny, you start to figure out who you are by what you wear. You can reinvent yourself. When you really love something, it's probably because something wonderful happened, or you feel wonderful in it. Like my favourite raspberry sweater that I was wearing when I met my husband. I have no idea of where it's gotten to, though. And I think my favourite beige cardigan is in a Hertz car somewhere." Heels: "I was joking about how I'd never wear heels if I really had to use my brain. I wanted that idea in the piece. Shoes are this continual mystery to me. High heels make your legs look completely fantastic, but you don't feel solid on the ground. Those are never on my list of favourite things.
Paula Brancati Actress Wearing: "My summer uniform" of skinny jeans, basic white tank, flip-flops, a black-and-blue scarf … And: "My favourite necklace. It's a thin silver chain with a gold ring on it. My grandfather and grandmother - or Nona and Nana - gave me that when they got back from Italy, just a few months before my grandfather died. I was nine at the time, and it's kind of warped now. It has two little zirconia hearts leaning up against each other. When I was nine I used to wear it all the time. It certainly doesn't fit any more." Favourite piece in the play: "One is about boots, and I personally love boots. It's a girl's story. Something tragic happens, and she has to decide who she want to be, if she keeps wearing them or not. And another about a young woman who has breast cancer, and she wants bigger breasts. It's actually one of the funniest stories." Love: "I don't consider myself a big shopper, but I'm extremely sentimental. I think every woman and man, for every significant moment in your life, you can visualize what you wore. [The play]is about the sentimental value, and that I can completely relate to."
Love, Loss, and What I Wore opens at Toronto's Panasonic Theatre on Friday.