Monday, 30 July 2012

Stressed out, with clothes

Monday, Monday. Apart from a wonderful evening filled with good food and playing cards with our friends Lynn and Chris on Saturday, Chris and I spent most of the weekend stressing out about various stuff. We are trying to get our house on the market, knowing that we have already missed the most promising time frame.  I'll be leaving the US soon. Shipping the cats overseas is frightening, not to mention the insane amount of vet visits and paperwork. The thought of our future in Finland is both exciting and terrifying. So much will be different. 

When I am stressed out, I tend to re-direct my thoughts to clothes. (Wow, I had no idea how silly that would sound before I typed it!) If I start to freak out about whatever-it-might-be, I allow myself to think about clothes and fashion in the most superficial manner imaginable. I think about the types of clothes I'd buy and/or wear if I was a millionaire, if I had a different lifestyle, if I was someone else, if I was invited to the Academy Awards. I think about the types of clothing my sister, my mother or my friends would, could or should wear, in this reality or another. I think about fabrics, textures, colours, cuts and shapes. Almost instantly, I feel better. It's almost like meditation.

I used to buy a lot of clothes when I was stressed out, instead of just thinking about them. When I worked in clothing retail, hardly a week went by when I didn't feel the need to buy something new to alleviate the stress. At some point I went from buying clothes to buying fashion magazines by the dozen. Now, for the most part, I consult my fellow bloggers, the internet, and most often, my imagination. 

I don't quite know if I can even try to explain what it is about clothes that makes my mind feel at ease. Maybe it's because I feel like I know clothes. I know the materials, I recognize the cuts, I know why and how people  buy clothes, I know what makes the fashion consumer tick. My own personal style is a constant work-in-progress, but the time I've spent either modeling clothes or selling them has taught me a lot about the world of clothing. The lessons I learned back in the day were professional in nature, and perhaps that's at least in part why my thoughts on my own style have been, and still are, so convoluted. Clothing is, after all, very personal. 

There are times when I feel like I am hopelessly (and purposefully) out of the fashion loop... but that's not really true. I don't think I could train my eye away from the world of clothing and fashion if I tried. It's something that's profoundly safe to me, it's something that's been there for so long. As much as I sometimes feel that there is a profound disconnect between anything "fashion" and anything "style", the two go hand in hand for me, whether I like it or not. It all comes down to clothes. The world of clothing is fascinating, from the moment a designer draws the first draft of an exquisite haute couture dress to the disgusting consumerism of fast fashion, from the cotton picked in the fields of India to the thrift shop, from our closets to the streets where we walk around in our hundreds, our thousands, or our hundreds of thousands, each one of us, wearing clothes. Our clothing choices are a way to fit in, to stand out, to hide, to express, to make a claim, to identify others and ourselves. Clothing can be everything or nothing, or something in between. 

So here I am, day after day, thinking about cats-in-cargo one moment, and the fashion world's current obsession with leather the next. I drift to a complete freak-out about the work that needs to be done at the farmhouse in Finland, only to direct my thoughts toward the strange over-sized coats of the coming season. It's a strange duality, this tug-and-pull of stress and clothes, but for now, I'll take it.

Top, blouse and shorts are second hand, the loafers are by John Fluevog.

P.S. Lynn gave me this adorable cat-and-mouse pin. Isn't it wonderful?


Anonymous said...

I love this look--it's both sharp and casual!

I can completely relate to thinking about clothing as a form of meditation. I suffer from insomnia and I often spend long hours at night mixing and matching in my brain. And, meditating on these things does NOT indicate shallowness as many assume--it only indicate a focus. Others with similar stresses might focus on food or on exercise, or whatever distracts them.

Teeny said...

Gosh you're so pretty.
I was reading along and thinking, "she should really work with textiles or a stylist"then it hit me how it made you unhappy. It makes me unhappy seeing how quickly trends change, i wish people could just take the time to really honestly love something wear the shit out of it and then let it go rather than have it look almost instantly "dated". it's freezing cold here right now yet, i see pastels and florals emerging in retail signifying the changeover to spring - which figuratively won't happen for at least a month and then yet another month for the temperature to actually change. screw retail!

Carolyn said...

I totally relate, of course thinking about clothing is of course no more or less silly than thinking about sport, or chess or stamp collecting. And unlike the last two interests I listed, clothing is an essential!
We are interested in what we are interested in, yes? Thinking about what I am currently sewing, or planning to sew, or what I am going to wear the next day is always the last thing I am doing before I fall asleep each night! Of course it does sound shallow when put like that, but one cannot drift off unless one's brain is toying idly and calmly with innocuous happy thoughts, rather that with serious issues that eat you up with anxiety.
I'm sure the pussycats will be fine :)

Anonymous said...

Juu, "sullonmunluonto", mitä tulee tuohon vaatepohdintaan- etenkin stressaantuneena! Mutta tämä kommentti on täällä siksi, kun sä näytät ihan superkauniilta noissa kuvissa!! Tukka on ihana. Pus.

lin said...

First of all, I love your outfit - I have always wanted to pull of shorts of this length but never found a pair that worked.

You've hit the nail on the head for me about my relationship with fashion and style! I find it therapeutic to think about what to wear too! And I remain deeply interested in fashion and the business of fashion. It's one of those things a lot of people don't get about me.

Hippocampe said...

Such a stylish outfit, such a beautiful smile and such a clever post : thank you, Waves.
Fashion's always on my mind. You've described the thought process very well. It's not rational. But it's not mindless escapist entertainment -like, say, watching TV- either.
Is it a refreshing hobby or a bad habit ? On one hand, there is (in my case) an obsessive, control-freak streak in this fashion meditation that I find worrying. On the other hand, I can't forget that when I lived through a bout of depression a few years ago, fashion was my lifeline, the only thing I found worth getting up for in the morning (while books, which I had previously thought crucial to my well-being, were useless).
I'll go on daydreaming clothes, then (as if I knew how to stop this strange process).

KLynnB said...

I loved this post. It expressed so much of what I think and feel about fashion. I've always had this nagging concern that it's superficial or shallow to care as much about clothes (on myself and others) as I do -- that I should wean myself from this interest/obsession like it was a bad habit. How ridiculous! Why can't I "own" this part of myself like anything else? Pondering fashion and playing with my wardrobe makes me happy, keeps me occupied for hours and in no way keeps me from living a balanced and fulfilled life. So no more guilt. Fashion fascinates me!

Lauren Knight said...

I love this look as well! It's very tomboy but feminine with the floral shirt. You look fantastic.

Such an interesting post. I couldn't agree more. I hate to use the term "retail therapy," but that's how I would treat myself after a particularly bad day as a social worker years ago. I can remember walking into an Anthropologie in Philadelphia and actually hear my own racing pulse in my ears slow down as I took in the clothes and textiles around me. Crazy, I know. I didn't even have to buy anything. Just browse.

Good luck with your move. What an adventure!