I wish that I could pack all my favorite clothes from the decades of my life.
1. The yellow dress with orange empire band, circa 1968
2. The black cotton 1930’s style dress emblazoned with cherries, 1972
3. Black and white silk vintage dress, San Francisco, 1982
4. Reversible silk sack dress–purple and burgundy, bought at Origins on sale, Santa Fe, 1988
And so many more. Worn out, torn, stained, no longer fitting, too unfashionable, but still missed.
Who am I dressing for? In part, to avoid my mother (even though she is now dead), whose hypercritical eye and sharp tongue ruined many a sartorial moment for me. Clingy things were out, even when I was young and relatively svelte. She didn’t like the opposite direction I went in either–loose, baggy, unconstricted. But there I have stayed.
I’m dressing for certain of my friends who care about clothes–not fashion, but personal style. I’m not dressed for Men with a capital M though. My husbands have been vague about my clothes. “Nice pants,” Robert once said. It was a skirt. (He was very near-sighted). If Rich doesn’t like something, which he mentions about once every twenty years, I know it must be awful (I gave that muumuu from Hilo Hattie’s away at once).
One of my closest friends just likes when I dress up at all, although she rarely does. My short, boxy dresses, leggings, tights, tunic overall look always draws a compliment. Another close friend is quite opinionated and knowledgeable–a compliment from her is earned. Our taste is quite similar but not identical. I dress to amuse.
I never wear jeans, never sweats. To me, the loose dress is the perfect item. I’m sure I’d love a sari or a shalwar kameez if such dress was culturally appropriate for me. Luckily there is a lot of ethnic-derived clothing that fits in a similar fashion. And I have several used kimono jackets.
Right now, I like a lot of color, a lot of pattern, a lot of texture, scarves, earrings. In some ways I’m a minimalist–I like simple food, sharing a car, not being overworked, having few appliances–but not when it comes to clothes.
A marvelous Zen koan asks–for who do you adorn yourself and make yourself beautiful?
One answer might be–for you. And for me.