I woke up every day this very recent past year with a reason to get dressed. Those reasons don’t change much from year to year. I get dressed in order to:
*Show respect for myself
*Enjoy the pleasure of adornment
*Wear favorite items like they’re talismans
*Remember who I am
*Be the best 60-plus-year-old I can be
*Enjoy the clothes in my closet
Then there were some specific goals I had with clothes this year:
*Be appropriate to the activity I was involved in that day or night
*Feel at ease in my body whether I gain a few or lose a few
*Look pulled together on the outside even if I’m falling apart on the inside
*Starting in January, show others (hospital staff) that this woman in the ICU or Room 214, my mom, has a strong, steady advocate (me) who is paying attention at all times
*Show respect for my mother at her funeral in April and again in June, at her graveside service
Getting dressed for me is proof that I’m still breathing and up for the game of life.
I give myself an A for my efforts this year. I think I only had one or two days when I stayed in my jammies all day sans lipstick. Not bad.
I think I would have been a good candidate for mourning clothes. Not because I want to wear black for a year but because it would have been handy to have some kind of symbol that conveyed to strangers and friends alike, “My Mom died. I’m sad. It’s okay; you don’t have to fix anything. Just give me some space to not be my normal self.”
“Normal” is such a long way off after loss and I’d have enjoyed having a way to ask people, without using words, to have patience with me, to understand that it’s just awkward right now and I’m doing something I’m so not graceful at–figuring out how to walk through life with grief at my side.
(I know of several people who lost their mom this year. If you found yourself facing loss, here’s a great post written by someone who builds a case for bringing back mourning clothes after she lost her mom.)
Having just said that, there was plenty of pleasure and some solace in getting back in April to the activities of my life in the Bay Area, things that were familiar to me. After months of feeling so unsafe, like yet another traumatic thing could happen at any moment, it was comforting to look in the mirror and find the Brenda that resembled the one who respects herself, enjoys adornment, wears favorite things like talismans, expresses herself, and is the best version of her 60+ self.
It reminded me that I hadn’t lost everything. I had lost my mother but I still had parts of my life that gave me great pleasure: my work, living in Sonoma, Russ, my family, my love of nature, friends. I wasn’t entirely abandoned and alone even though it felt like that.
I watch how my clients evolve and make changes throughout the year. It’s almost a sociological study using fashion as the through line. There were a few things that I tracked about my own style and fashion this year.
There were curious things, like these:
1. I went for two whole months without wearing blue jeans. That’s significant for me. I love my skinnies, my crops, my flares, but denim–from light to dark indigo–went into hibernation. As days turned into weeks I’d wake up and take my denim temperature: Nope, don’t feel like blue jeans today, not in the least. And then I’d choose a dress or white pants.
In fact I wore white a lot this summer. It’s like I craved it. It felt soothing, fresh, clear, uncomplicated. According to author Suzy Chiazzari in The Complete Book of Color, “White gives you time to stop and think, to reflect without decision-making.” I don’t even remember what my theme for 2015 was. I know I chose one. But I’d have to say “Reflection” became the theme.
2. When I pulled out my winter clothes this November, there on top were two items that I very nearly purged back in the spring when I packed those winter clothes away. One was a Burberry sweater with metal detail along the V-neckline. Another was a wool military type jacket in gray. Those two items that nearly hit the chopping block were the first things I wore this winter! They were like long, lost friends, so comforting.
I am a habitual editor of my wardrobe. If something in my wardrobe isn’t serving me anymore and I can explain the reason why to myself, I let it go. I’m glad now that I didn’t send those two items to the consignment store. Note to self: When in doubt, curb the urge to purge.
I had a problem area this year and it impacted outfit making. It was my feet. I’m on my feet for hours at a time, much like anyone who works in retail, whether I’m in the dressing room with my client or in his or her closet. No one could be happier about the chunky soles on shoes appearing on shoe racks everywhere. I had to initially push myself to try the sneakers and oxfords because I thought they wouldn’t feel elegant or feminine. But I’ve adjusted my look so my feet can be happy and my style formula is surviving just fine.
My sneakers are dressy looking ones with patent leather trim on them. The shine makes the casual look feel more elegant. And I love my patent oxfords in black and in taupe. Again, the shine is what delights me. I wore platform sandals in the summer or sandals with Vibram soles. Right now, it’s all about keeping the feet happy.
I am a serial monogamist
I’ve come to realize that I am a serial monogamist when it comes to handbags. At least this year I was.
There was this one, a gift from Russ at Christmastime in 2014: a metallic lunch bag by Marie Turnor (www.marieturnor.com) that I wore with everything.
Then I wore a gray framed bag tons. I’ve appreciated it in my closet forever but wore it infrequently, mostly for nighttime. I didn’t know I could be happy with a small bag but this was fun to cart around. It made me happy; it delighted me; it made every day feel like a special day.
It isn’t big enough to carry a book or a spiral binder or a file folder. It’s not multi-purpose. It doesn’t hold things that I could pull out in case I found myself somewhere with time on my hands. Nope. I just show up in this bag and be.
Then as fall rolled around, I went into my blue phase and got back to denim. I was wearing my blue eyeframes a lot this year and rediscovered my satchel with blue handle grips. It was a favorite before and it’s a favorite again. The silver bag and the gray framed bag took a vacation and it was all about this larger one. I was back to carrying a book with me or my iPad.
This Christmas my daughters gifted me a bag that is destined to be my next favorite. It’s so soft, feels so good in my hands. It’s a great shade of green, sort of a grayed olive green with a lighter green strap around the middle. Over the holidays it went to tea with another military colored bag. It was dim in the restaurant, but you get a hint at what it looks like in the pic below (on the right). It will most likely be showing up on your screen in a Facebook or blog post in the near future.
What developments showed up in your wardrobe this past year? Were there color changes? Size changes? Style changes? Tell me about the sociology of your wardrobe. What did you discover?