Sunday, October 30, 2016

About fashion, clothing and me

In the last six weeks, I’ve read the following:

There’s a slow fashion movement going on that urges us to only purchase clothing that can be worn 30 or more times. Obviously, if your clothes are going to be worn that many times, they can’t wear out. So equally obviously, most fast fashion items won’t make the cut.

I think the part that’s missing from all of this is the emotional component. Thinking back over my clothing purchase over my lifetime, need is almost never the driver. In my 20s, I shopped like a good little consumer because all the media influences in my life suggested that shopping was a worthwhile activity (almost like a hobby) or because of the thrill of the hunt. Never mind that I didn’t need what I was hunting, the thrill was still there.

I’m not the only one who’s felt that way. Most of the people I know have done much the same thing. If we are very honest about what’s needed in our closets, I think we’d all agree that we don’t actually need anything.

But again, shopping for clothes every year or every fashion season is also part of how we fit in. Every year, Pantone announces the color of the year and boom! All of last year’s clothing in last year’s color of the year look dated and frumpy (here's the colors for right now). Same thing with the cut of pants or blouses or coats. Think about bell bottom jeans from the 70s, or the 80s peg leg jeans. Sure, you can find variations on those themes but they don’t look the same and the older versions look dated.

Case in point—the unfortunately named pussy bow blouse. I remember those in the 80s, when Margaret Thatcher wore them. They were practically the essential piece for women in business back then. They’re back now but the lines are subtly different and for sure the shoulders are cut differently. If you wore one of the 1980s ones today, you’d look strange.

Lots of bloggers who are far more articulate than I am have talked about capsule wardrobes that end up being uniforms. Some like it, some don’t (I fall on the “like it” side myself).  I suspect those who don’t like the idea of a uniform end up feeling constricted and confined at the thought that their clothing would be so similar, day in and day out.

Which brings me to my last thought. A month or so ago, I read an article about food and eating; the article said something about how people generally fall into one of two camps: those who like to have really full bellies (think post-Thanksgiving dinner) and those who don’t. I wonder if clothing falls into the same sort of grouping. Maybe the people with super stuffed closets and lots and lots of shoes absolutely love that full feeling.

This entire train of thought was sparked the day my son was deployed. I’ve lost a fair amount of weight this year (not on purpose, it’s from stress). Almost everything in my closet was way too big, unwearably big. I can’t even describe the mental burden of all that stuff—every time I opened the closet to get dressed, there they all were bugging the daylights out of me. But I felt obligated to keep them and make them work somehow; I felt so much guilt at the idea of purging those clothes.

The day Ben deployed, I was a mess. I needed to feel some control somewhere in my life so I purged my closet. Weird, I know. But I was careful as I did it. I do have a uniform of sorts, I have items that no matter what I will always repurchase:

  • Jeans
  • A white fitted shirt
  • Sweaters
  • A black skirt
  • Black dress pants
  • Some sort of geometric black pants (current iteration is checks, the one I saved is diamonds)

I kept those in a plastic bin under my bed. I kept the underwear that’s too big, and the bras too. Also the workout gear (running clothes mostly). All of those are things I have no matter what size I am. And I felt peaceful about the whole thing. I also realized that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the super full belly after a meal, nor do I like a super full closet. Instead, I want everything in there to work for me right now, to fit me today.


D Russell said...

I'm with you. I don't like a super full belly, and don't want things in my closet I won't actually wear.

Jeanne said...

Of course you know I like everything full. It makes me feel good, this time of year especially, to feel that I have enough. But I'm trying to see more of your side of things.