Tuesday, 16 February 2016
Clothing! Such a Nuisance
I've had a difficult month with The Plague acting up but at times when writing feels manageable I've resurrected and moderately revised things I wrote some time ago and saved. Previous blog posts have been such and so is this one. A good clue typically, is lack of photos.
I find myself slipping back into old ways, or at least that is the thought that crossed my mind recently when I realised I have lost all interest, an interest that was quite short lived, in putting much effort into how I dress. This does not mean I look like a slob or that I am not clean and neatly groomed. I have always liked clothing and style and admired dressing well as an art form or distinct form of personal expression. I also recognise that anything we choose to do or not do with regards to how we dress and groom ourselves is exactly what style is. In some ways, that suggests to me that there isn't really any such thing as no style because no style is a sort of style in itself. Something I've learned and have written about before in this blog is that what I like and what I want to wear are not always well aligned. I have great admiration for and attraction to much more ornate styles of dressing than I actually feel comfortable wearing myself. Previously I had not imagined such a dichotomy could exist, assuming only that if one likes it one will like wearing it. Apparently that is not true. Another notion I had to dispense with is maximalism versus minimalism because not only are they relative and defined differently by different individuals, they are two ends of a scale and surely there is much in between them. I am neither a maximalist nor a minimalist and whom you compare me to will make a difference in your perception of either of us.
My lifestyle and my taste for simple comfort could certainly dictate a minimalist style, and it does push me in that direction but I don't strive for it or stick to a rigid definition of it. My preference for layers indicates some types of styles might be more suited to me, but I also have a preference for quality, limited shopping and of not being the most noticeable person in the room. I haven't got a flambouyant or dramatic personality so it seems incongruous to dress as though I do. It becomes a costume that compels me to act the part and I find it exhausting even if it is sometimes fun or if pretending to be someone else gets me out the door. In the end, this is why the lagenlook I really like isn't working for me. As much fun as dressing can be, I have learned that it is not my main method of expressing myself and I do not care if what I am wearing leads you to conclude that I am dull or unimaginative. I am in the fortunate position of not needing to sell myself to anyone.
There is indeed a part of me that seems to default to the "I am too intellectual to care what I look like" concept. I was born to be the slightly untidy absent minded professor type expert in some obscure area of philosophy or literature that nobody has ever heard of. I missed my calling, obviously, but I recognise the tendencies in myself. I was, however, raised to have a good grasp on grooming skills and I do have some degree of desire to look pleasing and appealing. Thus I want to wear colours that flatter me, a little bit of makeup, have a flattering hairstyle (still can't and probably won't ever determine just what that is) and wear clothing that generally does not steal the show. If I am honest, I want you to see my mind, my thoughts, my ideas, and not what I am wearing. I don't want you to look at me and say "That's a nice dress" and while I will not complain if you look at me and say "Oh you look nice" what I really want is "Hey, I'd really like to spend time talking with you." On the other hand, if too many people respond that way ( and the definition of too many might be more than two a week) I will get exhausted so much of the time I actually don't want you to notice me at all. That's not too hard to achieve, since I can manage that by just staying home.
I don't think of myself as a great intellectual any more than I think of myself as a beauty, but I wonder if self presentation is more about what we are aiming for rather than what we think we are. If that's the case then it's my mind I want to define me and not my appearance and I don't care if I appear stylish or fashionable, or artistic. I don't aim to create something beautiful when I paint any more than I am really interested in creating something beautiful when I get dressed. I am aiming for authenticity, some sort of always just out of reach truth; I am seeking the essence of something and when I paint it is to help me see, to help me look for that true nature in something or someone. My appearance may or may not tell you something accurate about the essence of who I am, and I no more have the patience for creating artful bedhead and a grunge look as a statement of non-caring, than I have for manicures and curling irons. Give me wash and wear hair, a few signature pieces of jewelry, which I probably don't even take off when I go to bed, some comfortable jeans and a soft wool sweater. Add a pair of moderately funky boots and a large satchel containing one or two books and probably a lipstick that I may or may not remember to reapply later. I don't know what to call this style, but it's the style truest to who I am.