Why Clothes Matter
I love clothes.
I love their myriad colors, the luscious fabrics. I love how transporting a garment can be. I love looking at bolts of fabric, imagining what they could be sewn into. I love looking at the shops to see what’s available and then making my own mental additions, changes, improvements. I love opening a closet full of only gorgeous colors, patterns and silhouettes.
Clothes make me happy.
It started when I was a wee one. Walking (or, rather, toddling) through Sears or Kmart or Penney’s with my mom, I spied a display of fancy girls’ underwear.
Those, I told her as I pointed. I want those.
My mom turned to me to explain. You can have those fancy big girl panties. But if I buy them for you, then you can’t wear a diaper anymore.
And so it began. What started as a mother’s bribe to potty train her daughter (which, by the way, was way better an idea than using M and M’s), tripped a life long obsession.
I chronicle my life in clothes.
The most embarrassing soccer game ever: Five year old me (playing on a boys team who were all a year older) is forced to wear a puffer coat UNDER my long sleeved soccer jersey. Not only is the coat lavender and the jersey orange, but also I can barely move. Oh the shame. I don’t think I ever quite recovered...
Third grade: I swear that I will be the first girl in my class with Guess jeans. Meanwhile I am wearing fake pink Keds at least two sizes too large. I may have tried to glue a Keds blue rubber logo on the back of one shoe.
Fourth grade: Praise Jesus my babysitter Sarah introduces me to The Cure and gives me her too-small Guess jeans with zips at the ankles!
Middle school graduation: I feel so Seventeen Magazine in a very short navy blue rayon babydoll dress with white polka dots and an under bust white bow. I wear it with strappy white patent leather heels.
Junior Prom: I score a Vera Wang gown for $90 thanks to working at the Off 5th outlet store near the airport. Because I go to a girl’s school I know zero boys and I join a group of girls who go out to dinner and to prom together.
First job: My favorite outfit is a grey pinstripe pantsuit that I wear with an I Heart NY t-shirt and dark red sling back heels. Now I feel very Sex and the City.
I’ve many many other recollections just like those where my clothing has taken on its own mythic proportions.
I firmly believe in the Field of Dreams method of shopping. “If you buy the dress, they will come.” They being the job, date, gig, acceptance to school.
The right clothes make the magic happen. And the right dress is even more powerful.
A dress can carve out on its wearer’s body a new curve. A dress can coax out a taller posture and more powerful (or languid) gait.
Sometimes I wish that I could simplify my wardrobe to consist of only the necessities, but I can’t. While I do engage in periodic closet clean outs, I have to say I more sharply regret the ones that got away than the increasing amount of closet space I require.*
I do regret purging some pieces more than others. The softest ivory suede car coat with ruffled collar. The Hollywould shoe collection, size 41, including the jewel encrusted mules and black satin ankle wrap stilettos. And oh, that Vera Wang, even though I couldn’t get the college formal stains out. The python handbag that would be so lovingly worn in by now.
I mourn those divine pieces and hope they have gone on to good owners. I vow not to make the mistake of eBay again.
These days, however, I wear leggings, nursing tank tops and oversized sweaters. My gorgeous blazers are too snug, never mind my pants and dresses. I never wear heels and it’s a good day when I remember that a touch of jewelry and tinted moisturizer make me feel put together.
While I firmly believe in dressing the body you have right now, I’m also looking forward to a new phase in my life when I no longer have to worry about baby spit up or breast pads.
Until then, I’m stocking up on leggings and ponte pants and huge cashmere sweaters. And oh yes, really pretty underwear.
* My husband jokes that we bought a country house for the closet space. That would be the most expensive storage unit I can imagine. But the closets are lined in cedar!