Clothes make the (wo)man

I have a secret.

I’m not really into clothes.

Now that I have your attention, I should explain that I am not referring to a penchant for nudism.  Given the choice between clothes and not-clothes, I would definitely pick clothes every time. But I don’t care much about what clothes.

That’s not to say that I don’t dress well. I have been described as “well put-together.” I manage to show up to work looking reasonably professional. But I don’t have a lot of clothes, and when I latch on to something that I feel looks “right” on me, I guarantee you will see a lot of it. I own one purse. I have a couple of pairs of black leather shoes for work that have been chosen because they can be worn with everything (or rather, I WEAR them with everything, regardless…)

black shoesI sometimes think it would be nice to have the kind of job where I was expected to wear a uniform to work, so I wouldn’t have to think about what to wear. In lieu of that, I’ve created my own ersatz uniform that generally consists of plain black pants or a plain black skirt, an equally plain black shirt, and one of an assortment of solid-colour blazers.

One of the (many) nice things about being on leave from work is that I have, for the past two and half months, existed pretty much exclusively in a black t-shirt and a pair of black yoga-capris, until the weather turned cool and I could trade in the capris for my jeans. Actually, never mind the uniform. What I really want is a job to which I can wear jeans and a black t-shirt every day. (Maybe THAT’s why I would like to be able to write for a living.)

Another nice thing about being on leave has been the discovery that, if one faithfully walks and does one’s leg-strengthening exercises daily as prescribed by the nice orthopaedic surgeon, one’s jeans suddenly start to get looser!

So when I screwed up the energy to go and try on clothes today, I found myself hating the process less than I usually hate clothes shopping.  Not that I was inspired by my newfound muscle tone to go sartorially crazy—I hasten to point out that I came home with black pants and a black shirt. But they looked REALLY GOOD. And I suppose the shirt is slightly less plain than many other black shirts I have owned.

But actually, my real secret is this: I would love to be on What Not to Wear. In my heart of hearts, I would give anything to have Clinton and Stacey knock on my door, confiscate my drawer full of faded black t-shirts and tease me about my sensible shoes, and then waft me off to New York to build a whole new wardrobe from scratch. The “Cinderella” transformation story that runs through every episode totally captivates me. My favourite was a reunion episode where a group of program alumnae talked about their lives after being on the show. These women really were transformed by the discovery that they could feel good about their appearance. I don’t think that’s shallow. Actors will tell you that putting on the costume helps you become the character. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that learning how to dress your particular body well is going to make you more confident.

And I bet those New York boutiques have some really nice black pants.

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16 thoughts on “Clothes make the (wo)man

  1. Aw, come on…please tell me that if you got to shop in NY boutiques, you would not go for black pants! (Maybe walk on the wild side, and do navy blue? :)) The WNTW transformation would be an experience like no other (humiliating at times, but one would hope, a confidence builder in the end.)

  2. Linda Roy

    I love that show and I die a little inside each time somebody grabs that check and says they don’t know what to do with it. I’ll show ’em! 😉

  3. First off I LOVE Clinton and Stacey and though I certainly could look pulled together every day — I don’t. As a matter of fact, sometimes I figure out how to bath myself around what time I can make it to the pool for a swim. Kill two birds with one stone right. And besides, if we don’t go around look fab every day we can really surprise the dickens out of folks when we dress up.

  4. 30 years in the Navy – they told me what to wear. Now retired – it doesn’t matter what I wear, which is perfect because I hate shopping. If Kellie manages to get me in a dressing room she keeps throwing clothes in until my mind snaps and I walk out.

  5. This post resonates. I HATE shopping. I dress for comfort and, like you, I have a penchant for black. When I was in NYC the only clothing I bought was a $10 sweatshirt (grey because black was sold out) from a street vendor 🙂

  6. I actually come from a long line of women who are happiest clad in black. My mom, my grandmother, my two sisters, and now my two daughters, all make a be-line for the black rack. So my excuse is that it’s genetic.

  7. That’s my secret fantasy too..though I would like to have lost a bunch of weight prior to and have help dressing my newly transformed body. Also I am a huge fan of black. And 3 par of black shoes? That’s 2 more than I have..color me jealous.

    1. Oh but you wouldn’t need to lose a bunch of weight– what I love about the show it that they dress all kinds of bodies– and they make everyone look fantastic! As much as I am enjoying the looseness of my jeans right now, I believe you can be gorgeous regardless of your weight.

  8. I hear you on this one – it’s not that I don’t want to dress fashionably, it’s just that I’m too lazy to figure it out, shopping stresses me out, and I am much more interested in being comfortable than wearing heels or skinny jeans. If I’m ever rich enough to afford assistants, I will have to hire a fashion consultant, hahaha. Good luck with your application for “What Not To Wear!” 😉

  9. I work in retail fashion part-time. I got the job because after losing weight I had nothing to wear and my mother told me I was frumpy. Looking good in your clothes isn’t purely vanity. It is about a healthy body image, being comfortable and for some it’s an opportunity to be creative and express a part of your personality.

    I was a definite candidate for the show and if my family could have pulled it off, I would have been a guest.

    When the clothes don’t work, it’s not our bodies but the clothes. We need to unlearn that we can simply pull something off the rack and that it’s suppose to look good. Mass production can’t be a one size fits all. My suggestion to my customers is to learn what compliments their body type and their sensibilities and to be willing to have a piece altered if necessary. Yes, tailoring isn’t cheap so if you really don’t love the piece don’t buy it.

    Enjoyed this.

  10. Failed to add the obvious: I learned how to dress me and others and I while I enjoy getting dressed, I still don’t enjoy shopping. When I shop I zero in on what I went for or have my radar up for what I know works for me. I don’t browse. I don’t go shopping just to ‘see.’ I’d rather do so many other things.

  11. Your point about mass production is so true. I have to buy different sizes depending on what part of my body I’m dressing, and sometimes the ideal fit would actually be a combination of two sizes in one garment, but as you say, tailoring is expensive. If you are lucky you can hit on a particular brand or store that tends to have things that work for you. My daughter has very broad shoulders and a long torso, and really struggles to find things that fit. But she has found one clothing line that consistently works for her, so now we just don’t waste time looking anywhere else.

  12. Pingback: On tea bags, time, and running away to join the circus | Muddy River Muse

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