01 April 2009

mirror, mirror

It has been an unsettling week. We are in the middle of painting the floor of our bedroom and that has meant we spent emptying one half of the room and camping in one corner, unable to open wardrobes or reach tantalisingly marooned items on the other side. The indoor camping was not so bad, and there was something pleasing about the room being uncluttered. But having to use unflattering mirrors in the brighter, harsher light of spring was not so good. Did I really have so many furrows and wrinkles and was I really so washed out the last time I looked in the mirror?

The inevitable half lie of "having nothing to wear" also resurfaced. You know and I know that this cannot be true, especially when part of the painting task has been moving drawers and dismantling wardrobes, drawers and boxes full of clothes. But it always happens this time of year. Unpredictable and uneven weather, cold in the morning, warm at midday, cool again on the way home, mean that it's hard to get it right when it comes to dress-up. And I am totally, totally out of sorts and grumpy when I have a bad clothes day - clothes too hot, too tight, too long, too short, clothes that don't make me feel good - I need those colours, textures, swish and sway to lighten my day. (The importance of that swishing and swaying is probably behind my current workwear passion of skirts in party fabrics worn with a more practical woollen cardigan; never mind bloomin' power dressing.)

It just so happens that I have been reading eLinda Grant's "The Thoughtful Dresser" this week so clothes have been on the brain as well as the floor. I wouldn't claim to be well read on the subject or even a follower of fashion but I am interested in the choices we make about clothes and how they make us feel. Linda Grant says " We care about what we wear, If we don't we are fools. Only babies don't worry about what they look like, and only because no one has yet shown them a mirror".I agree with her, up to a point. There's nothing wrong with not caring about what you wear, but it ain't my way. Or Linda's. She is also spot on with her description of clothes as "fabric friends". Isn't that why we darn and mend and shorten and remodel, to keep those friendships and memories alive a little longer? (Justine Picardie's book is excellent on this.)

She has this to say on the the vexing question of ageing: "At sixteen and again at sixty you are at the age when you use clothes to discover new identities. To stand in front of a mirror and see a different person with each garment you put on; to explore all those possibilities, those various selves". I do that most days, don't you? Why wait till you're sixty?

It might be time perhaps to put away the brown and grey and get out the irises, though.


kristina said...

My wardrobe is almost entirely brown and gray, and it always starts to feel just a bit wrong this time of year. I really like the swishy party skirt and woolen cardigan idea--sounds perfect for spring!

Have been meaning to read Justine Picardie for quite a while now...

K x

Felix said...

Ooh I've gone straight to the library catalogue page to see if they have 'the thoughtful dresser.'

Thanks for this great post; I too am thinking a lot about clothes at the moment.