On wearing clothes

Wardrobe essentials

“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” — Virginia Woolf, Orlando

At the turn of each new year, I apparently expend a good deal of mental space thinking about clothes. What can I discard and donate now? What did I not wear in the past year? What, in Kondo’s life-changing phrase, sparks joy?

If anything, the simple act of tidying my wardrobe sparks joy for me. (I unashamedly admit that I love folding my underwear.) Last night, I edited my closet and came up with armful of things, once more, that I ought not hold onto. It thrilled me. I am so much happier with less.

Wardrobe essentials

But. I am struggling with a new desire. I do not want a pile of new things, but I want but fewer, far more expensive, and well-made things. Gobs of cheap garments from Target and Old Navy no longer appeal to me, as they did when I was younger. I just want one ludicrously expensive pair of jeans. Or a luxurious, sustainably made handbag. Which is a different (fiscal) problem altogether.

My style aspirations haven’t changed at all since I last wrote about them. I still want to dress like a Parisienne, however that is within my power in Central Virginia. I have successfully edited out most colors and prints, except for stripes. I wear rather plain things now, and I love it.

Simply put, people who say they “don’t care about clothes” are not truthful. Everyone cares about clothes. Everyone makes deliberate choices about what they buy and how they wear it. Our wardrobes are not happy accidents.

What people mean when they say this is that they don’t care about fashion or trends. Which is fine. But everyone cares about clothes.

And that is why I like thinking about clothes and observing what people wear and why. What we say to the world through what we wear. Is the image that I think I’m projecting through my clothes what the world actually receives? It is something to ponder.

Next: Perhaps some thoughts on uniforms and minimalism.

5 thoughts on “On wearing clothes

  1. It was so interesting to pick up your blog and to read about Marie Kondo. I have just finished her book and have done the “tidying” of my clothes cupboard. “Tidying”???? It was more like a culling. Unlike you, I felt sad and empty at the end of it. It took a day or two to figure out why. I had held each garment in my hands (as directed) and said goodby and thanked them for what they had taught me (and to be truthful this felt VERY weird.) But by the next day, although I delighted with an empty cupboard, I realised that I had said goodby to some good friends.

    I’m doing the dish towel drawer next….don’t think it is going to evoke those feelings!!!!! Thanks for your insights.

  2. You’re right, we do care – whether we follow trends, or deliberately don’t follow trends. And other people probably do think of us a certain way based on what we wear/how we look, whether we realize it or not…and most likely we are doing the same in our heads, of others and of ourselves…. Is our style an outward expression of our insides? Most likely.

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