Week One: Clothes Are for Hiding

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Clothes are for Hiding Until You’re Ready to Come Out

I come off the phone to my mum on Monday morning panicking about what to wear on this first day.  I’m thinking about jeans.  I tell myself I’ll do this so I’m effectively banned from that one pair, at least, for however long this experiment takes.  I have the feeling I rely on jeans, wearing them instead of discovering all the strange things in the back of my cupboard and the drawer that sticks.  Jeans are safe, comfortable, unintrusive, unchallengable.  Maybe I’m a bit scared of what I’m going to find in my wardrobe.  I’m working from home, so don’t have to make a decision till the evening, when I’m going to an Akron Family gig.  I’ll probably wear jeans, in case I feel too uncool in my own clothes.

At some point during the day, I realise that if I wear a pair of jeans now, I might end up in sequinned gowns in the daytime at the end of this.  I have a feeling I have more pretty evening dresses than jeans.

I also finally have a lightbulb moment.  Why am I wearing jeans? This is pretty much a date. My man – who for his privacy’s sake I’ll call the Wolf – is taking me to the gig, and we’re going with a few friends. Why not wear something I feel romantic and fun in?

I close my eyes and imagine myself feeling that way.  I’m wearing the red, jersey dress I was wearing when the Wolf and I got together.  This is the same dress I was wearing at a party a year or so before, when two men, two best friends, had an open competition over me.  It’s definitely a flattering dress.  Moreover, it has pockets and heavy fabric so I do feel quite at ease in it – it’s not going to blow away and if I’m feeling self conscious, I can put my hands in my pockets and hide a little bit.  Sexy dress, still for hiding.  I feel apprehensive about the tulip skirt looking dated, which I put down to the dress being one of the few things I’ve bought new from the high street in the past four years (from French Connection).  If it’s new, particularly if it’s high street, it dates, and that might invite criticism.

I wear it with a stripy cropped cardi, originally from Mango but actually from a charity shop on Upper Street, white tights and black t-bar heels (£2 from a charity shop on Commercial Street).  I like the shoes, because they fell out of the sky to go perfectly with the dress I wore to meet the Wolf’s family for the first time.  The outfit as a whole Wolf recognises from when we went to see Alice in Wonderland, when I also had a red headband and a red, heart-shaped bag, to channel Alice.

30.05.11 with coat           3005.11 no coat

On the way to the gig, I feel self-conscious.  But by the third song, the band have given us such clear instructions on how to move, teaching us a really daft dance, and are so brilliantly good, that I’m totally relaxed and happy to be wearing something a little bit celebratory.  Of all things, my teddy bear cape gets a lot of compliments from the other chaps (Glasgow charity shop).  Back home, I look at my dress and I love it.  It will never date, because it is me and will come with me.  It might wear out. Everything goes in the ‘Keep’ box.

On Tuesday, I’m still hiding, just for different reasons.  I’m going for dinner at my friend from school’s house, and want to wear something comfortable with room for my tummy and for sitting around talking, without being really casual.    I’m in head-to-toe Mum Style: my mum’s old skirt, and a peasant blouse she bought two versions of and gave me my choice of colour.  I wanted to wear pretty sandals but it was too cold and I got embarrassed about my feet, so I wore chocolate brown biker boots.  This felt better, more defiant, as I was feeling too soft and booby; now, I felt piratical.  Oddly, while I felt like this outfit was very me, I felt very embarrassed by it as a result.  But I’m going to keep it.

31.05.11

Clothes Make Me Happier

Oversleeping is not a good start to the day, so I put on my Chinese Spiderman t-shirt, which makes me feel happy and relaxed.  I wore it with dark blue flared jeans, and pink pumps.   At lunchtime, I got attacked by a cherry tomato, although the little fruit would probably claim self defence as I was sticking a fork in it.  As well as my eye, it got my spidey t shirt, but all is well.  It made me realise how much affection I can develop towards clothes.  Unfortunately, when I told the Wolf, he pointed out that he actually hadn’t given me this t-shirt: it was one of his favourites. It’s his again now, so in the ‘Not Keep’ box by default.  I can start stealing it again when I finish my experiment.  The Levi’s jeans have a strange waistband, which is cut so that my tummy hangs over it, but I’m keeping them to wear with longer tops as I like the fit on the legs and they are handy.

 

01.06.11

Clothes Are for Hiding Until You Disappear

Mister Green Stripey – he dead.  I bought the green stripy tee for 50 cents in an Irish village charity shop, because I thought it would be good to own a nice, inoffensive, neat casual top.  The green t-shirt just isn’t me to the point that it makes me feel like I’m disappearing.  I wore it today because I decided to go for a swim suddenly, and had to make the switch to leaving-the-house in two minutes to get to the session in time.  It’s in the ‘Not Keep’ bag.  The shoes were inconsequential black pumps.

02.06.11

Clothes Come on Adventures

The linen skirt I wore with the green tee is crushed, the black dye is fading, but I love it.  It’s been on adventures with me from Bristol to Bangkok and Beirut.  It will come on more: it is perfect for casual modesty in super hot weather.  If I need it for work again, I’ll dye it black.  Oddly, for something I feel so attached to, the skirt started life as my uniform in the shop I worked in part-time in my early 20s.

As the course of my last evening with the green stripey tee goes on, I feel guilty, and a bit mean.  Then I imagine it being used in a more positive way, and I feel excited for it.  I look at its neat green stripes and imagine that it’s happy.  I know that they’re not sentient beings, but perhaps I have so many clothes because it has felt ungrateful not to keep them.

Clothes are Beautiful

On Friday, I am going from work to see a 94-year-old relative, then out to the pub.  I haven’t seen my relative for a few weeks, so I want to wear something nice, as she usually notices what I’m wearing.  I wear one of my most beautiful things: a cherry pink skirt which my friend ZH talked me into buying ten years ago, in the sales, in Jigsaw.  I felt then that it was too old for me, but she said it would be an investment.  It took me two years to find the first occasion to wear it: her wedding.  After that, I don’t remember wearing it until recently, in the past few months, when I’ve had the confidence to wear something so lovely on a more regular basis.  I’ve been reassured by Jil Sander’s t-shirts and skirts.  I fell in love with the feel of the silk, the play of light from the fabric, the thought behind the curved seam across the front.  I particularly love the colour.

03.06.11

In the office, I was chuffed to find pretty much everyone wearing pink.  However, the confused responses to my noting this detail made me think that maybe the skirt isn’t pink, but red.  I don’t always see colours the same way as others.  I have a yellow bag that I only remember is green when I leave it on my bedding and realise it blends.  I was also asked if I’ve lost weight.

I had braved bare feet, with bronze, flat sandals.  My elderly relative took a close look at them when I arrived, and instructed me to go and see the chiropodist who was visiting the home that day.  She was also worried I was cold and half naked, so I showed her the shawl I had in my handbag. A bright pink one with red and purple flowers.  ‘That’s very good taste, is that your mum’s?’, she asked. When I left, she laughed, with a twinkle: ‘I know, you’re off to see a boy!’  She did love the skirt, wondering if it was taffeta, or crepe-de-chine, and concluding it was pure silk.

The white, cotton vest I wore on Saturday is another piece of clothing I enjoy looking at: the scalloped edges and embroidery.  It makes me feel like I’m in the country in an old Italian movie.  There are times when I don’t like it, when it makes me feel frumpy.  I haven’t worn it since last Summer, when I rarely did, although the previous year, it was one of my favourite tops.  It was 2 Euro in an Irish charity shop.  I love my shorts, for a similar reason to the vest: I feel like I’m in the country in Italy when I wear them.  All the weight I’ve put on in the last year or so makes me want to hide my legs in leggings, but as this was the last time I could wear these trusty shorts – bought in DP in Bristol Airport when I was nineteen, and worn with leggings for a number of projects because they’re easy to move around in – I thought I’d wear them with navy blue tights, to give them a bit more of a place in my outfit.

04.06.11

I adore the Liberty’s scarf, which I’ve inherited, because it’s beautiful. It suited market wandering in the sunshine.  After Friday and Saturday, scarves are now in on the experiment, as I have a whole drawer of them, I rarely wear most of them, and I’m eager to know why I’m hoarding them all.  Once I’ve worn them all once, I can wear them again if it’s cold (an exception – all other clothes are once only till the end).

Clothes Make Me Happier 2

On Sunday, it’s raining and I’m mooching about the house.  I decide to mooch dressed like a cosy Bond girl, a mock-60s-Stella ad girl in something soft and comfortable, rather than in my usual tracksuit.  My black and white Zara dress (charity shop) had leapt out of the cupboard the day before.  I’d never worn it, as I thought it looked too small, and was pleased to find it fitted.  I felt good. All of Friday to Sunday’s clothes are in the Keep box.

05.06.11

By Sara Nesbitt Gibbons