Elise (right) and her sister, Mo, are seen here in 1961. For several years after Mo’s death, Elise held on to a bathrobe she used to wear, for sentimental reasons.

Elise (right) and her sister, Mo, are seen here in 1961. For several years after Mo’s death, Elise held on to a bathrobe she used to wear, for sentimental reasons.

by Elise Seyfried

Has anybody seen my cardigan from LOFT? Didn’t you wear my red dress over Christmas? Can I have my skinny jeans back, please?

The Seyfrieds are The Borrowers. We help ourselves to one another’s bounty, sometimes without even asking. (“She never wears it anyway.”) Daughter Rose is notorious for arriving home from New York City with only her purse, proceeding to plunder her sister Julie’s clothing collection while she’s here. I have been known to swipe from the ever-fashionable Julie as well, I must admit (although I always — well, almost always — ask).

The boys aren’t quite as bad as the girls, but even they have been known to “borrow” everything from sweaters and socks to belts and vests. My son PJ is currently missing his dress pants, and I am wondering if said pants are enjoying a Taiwan vacation with older brother Sheridan at this very moment. Husband Steve isn’t really a borrower, but an inheritor. He, like Sheridan, cares little for clothes.

Steve has been known to sport a sweatshirt emblazoned with ALASKA (mine), a Navy issue turtleneck (son Evan’s) and sweatpants from one of Julie’s friends’ bar mitzvahs, to go running in the winter, warmth trumping style every single time. Surveying his wardrobe is a trip down memory lane, filled with things the children have discarded. As Steve has proven, there is no such thing as an unwanted clothing item. Purple Heart waits in vain for his cast-offs, because he never really casts them off.

I don’t know if Steve’s siblings ever shopped in one another’s closets, but I know my sisters and I certainly did, back in the day. Except for the mercifully brief period when mom dressed sister Maureen and me alike (we were “Irish twins,” 11 months apart, and mom was a sucker for identical spring coats and frilly dresses), we spent an inordinate amount of time swiping scarves and skirts and sweaters from each other.

Many’s the Sunday morning when we three little girls arrived in church with eyes puffy from tears, having waged a battle royal over a slip we each thought belonged to us. For several years after Mo’s death, I held on to a bathrobe she used to wear, for sentimental reasons, until the day I remembered that said bathrobe was actually mine.

When my kids were small, before they could snag their siblings’ coats and jeans for themselves, I did the honors for them. The very second Sheridan outgrew a fuzzy sleeper, there it appeared on baby Evan. I was delighted when PJ came along, so that now-matted and worn fuzzy sleeper could head into round three. My young sons were pretty oblivious to fashion trends then. Now, they are aghast at the photos of the sky-blue suit with short pants, and are retroactively mortified that they ever had to wear such silliness.

Little Rose was the recipient of many a neighborhood hand-me-down, which only worked until her keen fashion sense kicked in at around age three, after which time she refused to put on the jumper with the ducky pattern and the bright pink patent leather shoes. Rosie insisted on her own hand-selected tights and tee-shirts, which of course had zero appeal when Julie came along and wreaked havoc on the budget.

Now, however, we LOVE each other’s stuff. With only the occasional skirmish, we share and share alike. Holiday photos over the years attest to the snappy tie adorning, in turn, the necks of every man in the household. As I write this, I am wearing a really cute shirt from Julie’s closet that I hope she’s forgotten she owns. I think of Julie as I wear it, and feel closer to her somehow. I wonder if the others feel a similar bond when sporting various family members’ clothes.

We’re so lucky to have as much as we do. Why not spread the joy around a bit? Although I would be thrilled to get my denim sundress back someday. Rose? Julie?