Monday, November 14, 2011

Creating a Meaningful Wardrobe


It is easy to flop around life aimlessly, hoping that things suddenly present themselves to you in a neat, tidy and sensible fashion. But when you’ve floundered so long that you can barely breathe, instead you must grasp on to all the sense you can, sewing together some meaning out of some fishing line and the utterly random patchwork of jagged edges that comprise your life.

Depression, at least for me, is like swimming in a wave pool. You feel calm for a couple of minutes and learn how to breathe again until a wave crashes over you from out of nowhere and you can’t see or hear or breathe and you think you’re going to die or possibly explode. It doesn’t always matter what kind of bathing suit you’re wearing because it’s not going to stop the waves from crashing all around (Gang Gang Dance, anyone?) but clothing is your scales, fur, exoskeleton, whatever. Clothing is the first layer of armor you present to the world. What you wear is the version of yourself you want everyone else to see, though there have been more than a few times I could barely muster the energy to put on socks let alone do some colour blocking. Your clothes already provide some sort of narrative about yourself for others to read, so it seems natural that each item of clothing should have its own narrative, some unique story that makes it a special piece whether its a vintage gem or an impulse buy that changed your life.

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with the concept of creating a meaningful wardrobe. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of clothes but have nothing to wear. It’s the age-old dilemma: water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink. As a thrift store queen, I’ve accumulated a vast array of wonderful, strange and unique items of clothing but not all of them are particularly suited to my lifestyle or aesthetic sensibilities during this transitionary period of my life. When I first started thrifting at age 14, I bought just about anything that looked cool. But as I got more experienced, I practiced a discerning eye and learned to hone in on the qualities that made a piece unique. Later still, I learned to purchase for both comfort and style instead of just the latter. The amount of money I’ve spent on thrift store shoes that just don’t fit is probably ghastly.

Day after day, I look at the same clothing surrounding me and find myself less drawn to a good chunk of things I once loved and found identity in. I have accumulated a large collection of similar novelty sweaters, sequins and ruffled blouses, most of which I longer have any use for. Yet this doesn’t make my collection of black ankle boots any less special, because each pair has a different quality that I bought it and wear it for. The more kitschy, novelty items in my closet have been put into storage temporarily, in the hopes I will sift through them at a later date and fall in love with them once again, understanding why I purchased them in the first place.

Other items will be leaving my closet permanently, sold online for cheap. These are things in which I have grown out of literally and figuratively, relics from an unfulfilling full-time retail job that no longer cover my slowly swelling frame. I am no longer a size extra-small, and that is perfectly fine. Instead, I need to find well-made, flattering pieces that are built to last and will grow with me instead of restrict my breathing.

Overall, I find the most pleasure in wearing clothing that has a story: a sweater that I knit by myself, a skirt which once belonged to my mother or the first pair properly-fitting of pants I bought in over four years. Some things people have sent me as gifts, which imbues them with the narrative of friendship. Still, some of these gifts have less resonance with my own style than the things I purchase for myself, because I know my own taste inside and out. As I learn how to become a better editor of my writing, I strive to become a better editor of my wardrobe as well, picking out only the pieces with the ability to make me smile, laugh and most of all, think.

44 comments:

edgeindustrialphotography said...

this is my favourite part of your
blog ... when you just write
I esp love the 2nd paragraph

such a great read
a 'fashion' blog that can have *just*
words on a page - and still be it's
best

this is what sets you apart

Unknown said...

Keep writing. :)

Renee Revolution said...

It's so interesting to hear your thoughts on the way you dress. Usually we only see the finished product, so it's quite a change to hear your thoughts on the matter.

I've never thought of the narrative behind each piece of clothing. Usually, I just got for a look I'm happy with.

I'm looking forward to seeing your meaningful wardrobe!

Stephanie Marie said...

I love this.

Angie Bitchface said...

this was such a great read. I've actually been obsessed with a similar concept lately, how one's identity can be carefully crafted through one's wardrobe, or something like that. you should definitely do more writing-based posts :)

Rennblautur said...

couch great

Kb said...

This was so insightful. I too feel as if I'm drowning in clothing that has too many associations attached. Maybe you should open an online vintage store as I'm sure you have a great eye.

Andie Bottrell said...

Terrific and so, so true.

Maxine Meighan said...

Thank you for having the courage to post about Depression, its such a taboo and it really shouldn't be.
Max
x
www.beauty-tothemax.blogspot.com

kate cait sith said...

ah this was so nice to read on a monday morning. :) your blog is so inspiring. that knit sweater is beautiful, especially in that color. it goes well with the texture of the snakeskin skirt! i own a lot in that style that i've thrifted though they fit proportionately like sweater dresses.

Rebecca Jane said...

Such an excellent well written post. Definitely has me thinking about my closet and wardrobe development in a new way.

OrigamiGirl said...

This was really beautiful to read and exactly what I love about your blog.

Meagan said...

this is lovely. you're such a good writer and fashion-er. congrats for being amazing

edgeindustrialphotography said...

wow isabel
I friggin love that first photo!!
and it has nothing to do really with
the clothes*

it's the setting, the light, the
different colours going on ... your
clasped hands ... just the feeling it
evokes - I mean I loved this piece
before the pics appeared!!

*but talking of the clothes, that's
gotta be my fave outfit of yours I've
seen!

Pashupati said...

Wow. I can relate, except I can't separate myself from the clothes whose narrative don't fit mine anymore, or to which I "inflicted" by wearing these in such such occasions a narrative that [isn't mine/I don't want] anymore. I just keep these.
It's weird how much the second picture really "illustrate" what you are saying in the article, symbolically.
The paragraph "defining" depression really... It's exactly how it is.

Anna said...

This is really great, it's so meaningful to hear the thoughts and stories behind your fashion.

Allison said...

This post really resonated with me. I sometimes feel like I just keep buying and buying clothes, but there are few things I really love or cherish. I believe that clothing should have stories and/or purpose behind it. It should express something important about the person wearing it.

I always love to read your writing! Great post.

Rachel said...

wow Isabel, that was wonderfully written. I really feel you on the story behind pieces. My favorite things all have meaning or story attached to them. Things I grew up seeing my mom wear, something I bought with someone I don't see any more, or something that reminds me of where I was in life when I bought it. You expressed that so beautifully. It reminded me of why I love clothing, and how the right outfit can reminds you of so much love and goodness.

Laura said...

i love this! it is so true! i used to just buy anything that fitted me well, but i get better and better at thrifting, and now i only buy stuff that resonates with me. i have several different styles and inspirations, so it is always and adventure!

i do feel like i feel happier when i go out in an intersting unusual outfit. like i am creating who i want to be! it makes me more confident and more able to be who i want to be!

diane said...

True fashion sense, and sensibility, never stops evolving. The really courageous thing is dispensing with the bulk of your clothing, save a few beautifully made classic pieces (I use the term classic loosely), and build from there. You're making great strides towards that, and you will more solidly find yourself in the process.
Good luck to you Isa. xo d

ZombieLace said...

I can relate to this SO much. A really great blog post, and kind of a lucky coincidence that it came out now just as it applies most... I am currently swimming in an ocean of clothes thrfited by my various past selves. Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Great post
I've been following your blog for a long time. But this last entry really makes me think to write to tell you that you are one of the bloggers that inspire me a lot.
You've told must of things I usually think about cloth, people, mood and how people adapt their dress according to how they feel or what they expect others to see.
I really like when you say " Instead, I need to find well-made, flattering pieces that are built to last and will grow with me instead of restrict my breathing.", this is exactly how I feel since I was 22.
Goes on! You're great!
(Sorry if you don't understand what I've written, but my mother language is spanish, so...)

olivias-pizzaz said...

this is honestly so good, i feel refreshed after reading this! Completely relate and agree with you!

Anonymous said...

beautiful writing & you look great x

Beka Hippy said...

I love everything you write in your blog. It's always very true and applies to my life as well. I would like to say that reading your blog has got me into blogging and I started my own :) BTW I love your clothes.

Magnet said...

This is such an excellent post Isabel. You really are a great writer, you make me feel embarrassed about the shit I type on my blog. >.< Anyway, I went through something similar at the beginning of the year, I started to evaluate what was in my wardrobe and why and sold A LOT of items on e-bay. The style I had when I first fell in love with fashion has changed a lot to the style I want to have now.

As for depression, ugh, I've pretty much been depressed for my entire life. I hope you're ok.

meagan said...

thank you so much writing this. truly. <3

i think that fashion has an unfortunate way of trivializing the love and meaning that an article of clothing can hold...by saying something is "so last season", it takes away from the creative process that went into designing the garment, and it erases any memories you may have given it.

this is why your idea of creating a meaningful wardrobe is wonderful - it puts the love back into the clothes rather than takes it away.

hope you feel better soon. i know we're just e-frenz, but if you ever want to talk, i'm an email away. xxoo

Anonymous said...

Congrats :-)

Acne Treatment Reviews said...

I admire your writing style. It is such a journey reading through. I have a good time visiting your blog.

theSIREN said...

as a writer by profession and hobby, your voice stands out among a sea of predictability. just found your blog and loving it. totally following you.

xxx Selena Cruz

www.theSIRENofMod.com

Отзывы об автомобилях said...

Diet cures more than lancet

Anonymous said...

it kinda sucks to say but lately i havent been enjoying your outfits as much as i used to...

Born for Joy said...

What a truly incredible post.. I teared up a little by the end. I've been purging some of the less important pieces of clothing in my wardrobe in favour of pieces which fit both my body and my mind. I wish more 'fashion blogs' were like yours, full of posts like this. Thank you so much

owlinalarkworld said...

Such a solid piece of writing. I will come back to it.

katherine said...

utter dopeness. i know exactly what you mean

Ana said...

This strikes a chord with me.

My wardrobe is full of things I don't wear. A lot of those were bought for me, but my taste greatly differs from the taste of my family and friends.

I decided to purge it - give it away - as soon as I get some free time for that :) .

Even just going through it and seeing the real situation felt cleansing for my mind.

craft said...

I love this! I feel so happy when I wear items that I made! It's like I'm on a total different mood all day!

Ingrid Mida said...

This is a very thoughtful post and a real delight to read.

GraceFace said...

Thank you so much for writing this, really. I stopped blogging over the summer due to similar feelings. It's really nice to read this when one is trying to rediscover what fashion meant to them.

Essjay23x said...

This post has really made me think. I've only just found your blog but I'm certainly going to check out some more of your posts after reading this one!

Rika said...

I wish my thoughts about my wardrobe were so profound :O

Kaila said...

thank you. you are such a great writer!

Susie said...

As much as I would like to honestly and genuinely respond to this nice piece of writing, lines of which have stuck with me since I first read it a few weeks ago, all I really am compelled to say is this: the first portrait of you is perfect and beautiful.

Floam said...

http://floamia.blogspot.com/2012/03/week-in-blog-postsesteem-and-appearance.html

So I wrote a response to this, bouncing off some of the things you said. Check it out if you want? Either way, I liked the post :)