When I was young…. no that’s wrong. When I was younger… that’s much better… I wore clothes to differentiate myself from the herd. Hard to do in catholic school with the unspoken rule of conformity. Only grandmothers in mourning wore black. I and a few fellow cohorts also wore black. Lots of black. We dyed things black. The more outlandish the better – buckle boots, black hats, vests over black poet shirts, leggings under skirts with petticoats. So very dramatic. It was a costume every day. I love a good costume. Naturally, we differentiated ourselves so much you couldn’t tell us apart. Irony comes to mind.
Spending my 20’s in San Francisco was liberating in so many ways. I found clothes. Lots of them. I also found that I knew nothing of the difference between wearing clothes and being dressed. I would much rather be dressed. The connotation of attending an impending event, one where thought and care would go into every stitch chosen, still appeals to me. Granted that event was often grabbing a guinness at a pub. It didn’t matter. (I don’t wear sweats to the market. Well, I do now, but that’s just until the latest baby arrives. I hate sweats.) People around me dressed too. Not always in what is defined as well-dressed, but with spirit, with gusto, with confidence, such confidence. No need to shock and awe through clothing, but more like elegant birds of different eras all crashing together in a thoroughly modern and individualistic way. I like that.
I started collecting. Many items of clothing I have now, 16 years later. I still wear them. I found local designers and had things made – skirts with trains, coats with bell sleeves, corsets trimmed with lace. I have to admit it’s been a couple of years since the corsets came out – I’ll save those for the twins.
Currently I sit and stare at my clothing. I have four weeks until the little one arrives to join his sisters. Most people would be lining the nest for the baby, picking out bumpers and footies with matching hats. Not I, oh no. I took care of nest lining months ago. Now I get to add some key items to the post pregnancy section of my closet. I have spent months wearing the equivalent of jersey jammies that are destined for some sort of bonfire. It is very difficult to consider oneself dressed when the primary concern is not letting ones belly hang out. It is also hard to feel well put together when it takes five minutes to put on socks. At four minutes 30 seconds I am winded and ready for a nap. Like a raven drawn to shiny objects, I am searching out that interesting pleat, the perfect silhouette, something transitional that I can still wear in six months… like the Luella Overlay in black cotton floral lace.
I’ll sneak it in the house somehow.