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Flotsam, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Resort, Hotel

Flotsam for the fashionista

In 1892, the first summer Spruce Point Inn was open, Gibson Girl fashions were in vogue (literally). According to the history researched by the University of Vermont (which had started admitting women in 1871), the fashion of the time went in for simpler and more practical clothing than in the past. Shirtwaists, often with a separate blouse and skirt, were popular as was so-called reform clothing for outdoor activities like biking.” In addition, according to the UVM website, “All walking skirts in the 1890s were designed to completely clear the ground.”

Sounds like the perfect ensemble for a stay in Boothbay Harbor and walks on the waterfront. In 1892, “oceanside memories made in Maine” were filled with fresh breezes and sunshine, far from the cramped cities where the captains of industry labored. When they brought their families to “rusticate”, they brought visions of sailboats and summer sunsets.

Not that different from today.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Of seeing things through a different lens, discovering the familiar in a surprising place or taking note of what washes ashore.

Not unlike the imagination it takes to turn charts, lines and fishing nets into the iconographic flotsam of a David Marx photo – or into fashion.

For true-life examples of such flights of fashionista fancy, look no further than the 4th annual Fishin for Fashion, an annual highlight of Boothbay Harbor Fest taking place during Labor Day Week. The festival for the community, fun for locals and visitors alike, has grown to 10 days of events, from town-wide tastings to art shows and music. Fishin for Fashion, on Saturday September 9th was designed to give back to Harbor Fest itself and to raise money for Project Graduation that for 25 years has given local high school kids an alternative to the danger-fraught excesses of graduation parties. Last year they went on outdoor adventures like whitewater rafting.

From those student imaginations, alongside fashion designers and local merchants, as from the watery depths of an amused Neptune, come scarves made of recycled fish nets, dresses embellished with multi-colored polypro line and skirts fashioned from nautical charts and fisherman’s gloves. Spruce Point Inn is engaged, both through innkeeper Joe Paolillo’s wife Dana – inspired by a hospital gear fashion show 5 years ago to suggest costumes conjured from marine supplies — through the goal to bring more people to Boothbay for the “golden season”  once Labor Day has passed.

Past experience, like past fashion, suggests that looking at things differently puts us on a path to discovery. Images are imprinted as memories by emotion, delight being one of the strongest.

Puts a whole new twist on “Gone Fishin,’” doesn’t it?