I Miss My Clothes

I miss my clothes. 

At first glance, it’s easy to attribute my longing for getting dressed and putting outfits together on the pandemic. And partially this is true. Whilst I have been through many phases of work from home outfits, the one that hangs around the most is the tracksuit and t-shirt and/or jumper look. I won’t categorise it as activewear. Or, one of those cute matching sets. It’s the classic look of tracksuit pants and t-shirts, like the outfits people used to wear to the supermarket before we started labelling these clothes as streetwear or before deciding the missing link in our wardrobes was lounge wear. 

So yes, the pandemic and my lack of motivation to put anything on which isn’t elasticised and could easily be covered in food and I wouldn’t care, is a part of it. 

The other part of it is something that has been whirring in the background for a little while. It is a combination of a few things; investment dressing, minimalism, and a desire to be more sustainable. These things coupled with the fact I have become quite risk averse when getting dressed, and well, it’s all looking a bit boring. 

If there is one thing I am very good at, it is shopping. Not ordinarily a skill that goes on your resume, but if you need help finding something, let me know. My point is, I have accumulated a lot of stuff, but as one does, I have changed and over time the huge amount of stuff I had, no longer felt right. Likewise, buying a whole heap of stuff, no longer felt right. As this became more of the way I approached things, I went and fell into the trap of ‘investment dressing’. Now, I would just like to say, clothes are not investments. Not really. To the best of my knowledge, the only fashion items that go up in price are Chanel Bags, Louis Vuitton toiletry bags and anything under the banner of ‘old Celine’. Anyway, I started to think that everything I bought had to last me for the rest of my life. This meant that not only was I spending more on things, because I thought they were better (and, sure, in some cases they of course are) but I was in this headspace of feeling like everything needed to be practical and something I would love now and then gladly be buried in. Buying something also became a mind field of wanting to buy sustainably and locally. Which led to more pressure, time researching an item and then more money. Whilst buy once and buy well is an important sentiment, it gave me blinkers. I lost all my desire to buy fun things. With each closet clear out I would get rid of the coloured earrings and stick to my silver ones, I got rid of the one dress I had and now can’t justify another. I am militant with the rules of what I will and won’t wear and will often outlaw entire categories, for example, I don’t wear skirts, colours that aren’t navy or maybe pink, no gold or rose-gold jewellery and everything MUST have silver hardware. On one hand, this list makes me feel as if I know myself, but on the other, I see it as the list of a person who takes themselves far too seriously. I love fashion, clothes and personal style but it is not something that needs to be run as if it is a Navy operation on a submarine. The answer is not to go out and buy more. Although that would be fun and I may feel refreshed for a couple of days, I know what I am talking about here is just getting dressed in the clothes I have, putting a belt on, maybe even pants with a button or layering a t-shirt under the jumper. Maybe even wearing that jewellery I was so desperate to have.  

When I need particular inspiration I use Pinterest to find images to add to the mood board on the inside of my cupboard, I flick through issues of my favourite magazine and watch outfit videos on YouTube. I read one of my favourite books, The New Garconne: How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman and I look at the Instagram’s of people whose style I admire. 

I also think it’s about allowing myself to love fashion in the way that I can wear my things without thinking I am saving them for something. I was about to write something dramatic here and exclaim that I have expensive taste. I feel like this is a trap I fall into to justify the fact I like certain things. It is tricky, there is a lot to be said for being into fashion and the more serious things in life, as advocated for by Taylor Swift in Miss Americana and Stacey Dooley every time she must defend herself on Instagram. The irony here is that fashion is in fact a very serious business. Perhaps where it has gone awry is that we allow ourselves to follow fashion that doesn’t resonate in order to impress people or be someone we’re not. Another issue is that we think we need more when we have enough.  

Fashion and identity have always been spoken of in tandem, but our ability to buy what the contestants of The Bachelor are wearing, or the outfits of our favourite influencers (who profit off us wanting to dress like them) means that these concepts are more tightly linked and our identity is lost to the masses. We are categorised by the algorithm, and we are drawn to aesthetics. It may no longer be about a certain piece but the vibe and the perceived lifestyle that go with it. 

It’s also quite late in the piece to share I’m not shopping this year. Part of me is relieved. I am not sure how I would have used that as a crutch at this point in the pandemic, the ban only extends to clothes, shoes, bags etc. hence the huge amount of boredom which I am being challenged by. I am reading this book called How To Do The Work, and whilst the author isn’t talking about choosing outfits (it’s related to therapy), she does talk about boredom and how we always want to be stimulated. My point is, I am seeing not shopping as a way to sit in that space. 

I am not sure who I will be when the pandemic is over but it’s going to take a lot of will power to not go and try and find that person amongst the clothing racks of my favourite stores.