For example, here are two pieces of an outfit I choose for ‘Minnie Cooper’ a talk show host who was a black sheep in her conservative family. She dressed to call attention to herself and she didn’t buy into what her family thought was appropriate.
I can remember watching ‘What Not To Wear’ back in the day and being annoyed, not only by the fact that they tended to dress everyone so much alike, but that they had no consideration for what people wanted to wear/felt comfortable in. There is more than one way to look good and they never seemed to get that at the time. (I think Stacey London gets it now, though.)
I mean, I get that our choice of clothing can be a message to the world. It’s a good thing, in general, to understand that and then to be able to choose what message to send, to choose whether to meet the ‘standards’ set by the situation or not. I often make those choices when I pick a costume for characters I play in monologues or mystery games. It’s interesting to decide whether this particular character would dress ‘appropriately’ for a given situation or whether they would choose to subvert expectations.*
And all of that doesn’t even get into the messages that other people can read into our clothing. I flatly refuse to accept that we are responsible for those messages, but again, it’s a good idea to know what they might be so we can be prepared to deal with them. That’s not the same as accepting responsibility for their thoughts and actions, it’s just acknowledging that we might have to deal with them.
Anyway, this is all just sort of a long introduction to a question I feel that we don’t ask often enough…
How does your clothing make you feel?
What about if, instead of concentrating just on how clothing *looks* we, instead thought about how it makes us feel? What about if we took the emotional ramifications into consideration?
If your clothing makes you self-conscious, if it leaves you feeling too hot or too cold, if it keeps you tugging down a hemline or rolling up a waistband, then it doesn’t feel good. If you are going to spend your evening thinking about your clothes instead of doing whatever it is you had planned, then it isn’t a good choice of outfit. I get that sometimes an item can *seem* like a good idea until you get to the event and something is not as expected, but often we choose an item of clothing and immediately know that it isn’t going to work.
What I’d like is for everyone to be able to dress for their own comfort and enjoyment and not have to give a damn what anyone else thinks. I know that isn’t possible at this point in history, but I am hoping that is going to change. In the meantime, I hope that, the next time you are getting dressed, you think about how you will feel in your clothes. And, if you think that your clothes will take up too much mental space, if you think that it will distract you from having fun, then you choose something else to wear. I want you to make a choice that serves you well and keeps you happy.
Tune in next week for the third part in this series: Dress For Your Own Power.
*Of course, some of my characters would have no idea what the ‘appropriate’ thing is. That’s a whole other layer of characterization.