The clothing you wear has a lot to say. I’ve hated that sentiment, even tried to deny it, but we are a visual species, evolved over millions of years to use our eyes first to case an open field and make snap decisions. So it follows that we continue judge by our first opinions–hair, clothes, carriage–all those first impressions speak volumes whether we are intentional about what we want to say or not.
What I find more interesting, is that what we wear also speaks to the wearer. These past two days I had to opportunity to watch copious amounts of cable television all hours of the day and night. There are so many products I didn’t know anyone needed being sold at 3 AM and yes, I will watch anything when the other option is staring off into the feverish and nightmarish dark anticipating the next opportunity to throw up on my own hair. Stomach flu has no shame.
In that time, drifting in and out of attentiveness, I took in far to many episodes of people choosing their own clothes (Say Yes to the Dress, What Not to Wear, some sort of wonderbra infomercial….). Aside from the obvious–that we’re a society so fascinated by clothing we’ve made it into television–what struck me is that it’s not just a superficial thing. I know it’s just television, but there were moments where those women (and it was always women) would smile and you could just tell, the clothes made a difference in more than just the way they looked in the mirror. They look proud, they look pleased, the suddenly look as it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing anymore, which is an utter contradiction because when they were badly dressed, the clothing was all you saw.
Now, I don’t think it’s actually the clothes that made the difference. For a woman, the way you look is a big deal but at the same time, taking the time to look good is an exercise in vanity. I think it’s one of those subtle things you pick up in the high school hallways, that grace, beauty and style are supposed to be easy. No one says it, you can just tell, all the so-called “pretty girls” are just…pretty. What I failed to realize at sixteen was that everyone is beautiful at 16, it’s just that no one has a clue. But that left me with this struggle, this belief that people who have that magnificent package of beauty and confidence come by it the same way they come by breathing. They just naturally have it.
Turns out, it’s about the clothes. Okay, it’s far more than that, but clothes are a piece.
When you make the time to care for yourself, think about yourself and make space for yourself, it shows. That’s what all these women did in the process of shopping, which was not so much shopping but therapy. They were forced to look and listen rather than passing themselves over. They had to worry about themselves. They had to look and like that image in the mirror. Once they saw themselves and liked what was there, and yes, I’m sure they liked the clothes they were wearing as well, they were beautiful.
So, clothes do make a difference and they do say things, they say things to the women who put them on and know they are wearing something they feel beautiful in.
All that said, my clothes currently says something about me, too. After 48 hours, I have graduated to wearing actual pants and a shirt that doesn’t also double as a bathrobe. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for a thousand channels of weird and fascinating television for buoying me through a horrid summer virus. That and children’s Tylenol.
Damn, I feel better.