Monday, 25 June 2012

In the vortex


The dress pictured above is called Helle (rough translation: heatwave), and the fabric carries the name Pyƶrre, which means vortex or swirl or whirl. (Both the dress and the fabric were designed by Finnish fashion designer Vuokko Nurmesniemi.) I chose to share the picture because right now my life seems to resemble a whirlwind. There is so much going on: packing, getting rid of random stuff (moving is expensive, so we are trying to travel light), getting the cats' paperwork, shots and microchips in order, putting the house in the US on the market, all sorts of random planning... I've moved lots of times before, but this time feels different. Overall I feel really good about the decisions we have made, but at the moment everything feels just a little bit too exhausting and overwhelming. I am sure things will start to make more sense as time moves along and when all this endless planning turns into something concrete, something that actually takes place in real life rather than in our minds and on paper.

The move has been, and continues to be, a wonderful opportunity for me to cull my wardrobe. What has been going on with my wardrobe recently would certainly deserve a collection of well-organized posts, but the way things stand, a sampling of random thoughts about it will have to suffice. 

I have donated a lot of my clothes to charity. It became obvious early on that there was no way I was going to ship all of my clothes back to Finland. I have culled a little bit, then a little more, and then a lot. I have a feeling I will continue to cull until the moving company comes to pack up our stuff. I have donated a lot of nice clothes. Nice just doesn't cut it anymore, and if something doesn't get worn, it's out. Clothes I have paid good money for are out if I don't wear them regularly. Random bought-in-the-spur-of-the-moment stuff is out. Everything that doesn't fit right, is in bad shape, or needs fixing (which I will never get around doing) is going. If I have multiple representations of a given style, only my favourites, the ones I actually wear, survive the culling. I think I might have gotten rid of at least half of my skirts, if not more. I still have plenty left. 

One of the most interesting things about all of this is that after having culled several garbage bags worth of clothes, I still have what looks like a lot of clothes. Not "oh my god I have SO many clothes!"-lot, but certainly a fair bit, enough to play around with, enough to feel like I have a pretty substantial collection of clothes that provide me with variety and fun. It's a good feeling. I feel better about getting dressed in the morning than I did, say, three months ago.

Something else that's worth noting: I have bought some new clothes. When I was in Finland house-hunting, I bought some basics: two long-sleeved t-shirts by Marimekko, a pair of vintage Laura Ashley navy chinos, a linen sweater at Filippa K. As things stand now, I am very close, if not over the twelve items of clothing I was going to allow myself to buy this year. To be honest, the list of twelve items doesn't seem all that important right now, and I haven't really been keeping score. The move and the culling process that has followed has more or less changed my mindset about the twelve-item-list.  I guess the point is that there is no magic number that is going to make me feel good about my wardrobe. It comes down to having clothes that make sense and getting rid of the clothes that don't. There is no point in shipping ten all-worn, cheap-quality seams-twisting-and-turning long sleeved t-shirts, when I can just get rid of them, and instead buy two good-quality ones that will last for a long, long time. I guess at some point I will tally up the stuff that I've acquired and got rid of, just to have a better idea of what has been going on.    

Another though: it has occurred to me that I am not a minimalist. I have made this statement before, only to back-track in the midst of my previous culling-inspired moments of clarity, to claim that perhaps I was one in the making anyway. This particular culling process (and on and on it goes) is really helping me figure out what I like. It has become obvious to me that I like all sorts of styles of clothing, all sorts of colours, all sorts of materials. I am not a one-style-fits-me-at-all-times person, and to some extent this means that I think I will always have a fair amount of clothes in my closet. In fact, I actually like to have a wide variety of clothes. Yes, I am interested in having my wardrobe make more sense, but I also want to hold onto a level of variety. I don't think the two need to be mutually exclusive. See, I could try to reduce my style to a handful of variables: there is an androgynous element, there is a romantic element, there is a 1920s-inspired element, and who knows what else. I could try to give a definitive answer to that question on so many people's lips these days: "how would you define your style?", and cull accordingly. But I don't know if a reductionist policy does me any favors. The collection of clothes I have grown to love is a mixed bag. That's just the way it is. It's an eclectic sampling of all sorts of things that have appealed to me over the years and continue to do so today.

One final thing: I have thought a lot about love. Maybe there is something fundamentally superficial and frivolous about loving clothes, but here's the thing: I love clothes, I do. I love the feel of crisp, out-of-the-wash linen, and I love the bounce of a well-cut circle-skirt. I love the way a light-as-air silk top feels against my skin. I could be embarrassed about that, and I could try to talk about clothes as essentially functional, utilitarian items that we have to wear in our daily lives. That's not what it's about for me though. It's not about creating an identity with the help of clothes either, and it's not about following fashion. To be honest, I don't know what it's about. Fun? Hedonism? But you know what, I don't really care. It is what it is, and that's enough for me. 


7 comments:

Terri said...

I don't think I have a defined style either and for me this interest in style is about creativity and endless recombinations. Wish I could visit the thrift store that has received the fruits of your culling. May the move go well.

Carolyn said...

I wish you the best of luck with your big move.
And I am glad you are falling in love with your clothes over again... it sounded like you were not enjoying them for a while. :)

Becca said...

Re: loving clothes -
I see it as a good thing, to really appreciate the beauty and workmanship of something human-made, be it a shoe or a vase. It's the opposite of buy cheap and mass-produced stuff without loving it, then throw it away type of behaviour.

It's a healthy attitude to have - carefully choose the things you buy, because you're really drawn to it, and then really enjoy.

Osprey said...

Thank you for this post, it's helped me come to grips with my own love for clothes. I think different people need different levels of physical beauty in their life. For example, I find that I appreciate not only good clothing items but I also have a keener sense for art and nature and design and general visual/tactile stimuli than my sister, who gets her joy from things like music.

It is unfortunate that enjoying clothes is automatically seen as frivolous, while having an interest in music, for example, would generally be seen as a good thing.

Shey said...

Hi Waves! It's so good to hear from you again, =)
I think I sort of gravitate towards the same styles (preppy, vintage-inspired and romantic), I usually don't try things outside os those styles, I feel more comfortable when I stay within those 3. I have a few garments that I love, some of them I wear and I love the way they fit but others I just love and never wear, still I keep them because I love them, and even in they are just in my drawers folded neatly or in a hanger, knowing that I have them makes me feel very happy. =)

madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra said...

I'm going through a similar vortex right now, only it is just a move to a bigger house 1 mile up the road. Even though I don't have the shipping/logistics inspiring me to cull, I really want to do it. My sister helped me pack up kids' rooms and now mostly what is left is the kitchen (where I should cull collected things too) and the master bedroom / closet. This past week I procrastinating even thinking about going into my closet for fear I'll never be seen again. Once I get in there, I'm planning on following similar principals as you did though, and part of me thinks it will be fun once I get started.

Best of luck on your move back home! Seems as I'd like Finland. Or at least I've "met" several people online from that area that seem really interesting...

madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra said...

I'm going through a similar vortex right now, only it is just a move to a bigger house 1 mile up the road. Even though I don't have the shipping/logistics inspiring me to cull, I really want to do it. My sister helped me pack up kids' rooms and now mostly what is left is the kitchen (where I should cull collected things too) and the master bedroom / closet. This past week I procrastinating even thinking about going into my closet for fear I'll never be seen again. Once I get in there, I'm planning on following similar principals as you did though, and part of me thinks it will be fun once I get started.

Best of luck on your move back home! Seems as I'd like Finland. Or at least I've "met" several people online from that area that seem really interesting...