Whenever I'm particularly happy, the way I dress undergoes a sudden and violent revolution. All of a sudden I need to wear clothes that exclaim, clothes that do cartwheels, clothes that sing praises whether the poor, double-glancing people I pass in the street want to witness them or not.
Which explains why my uniform of the past month or so has been cast aside, buried under piles of extraordinary garments that are suddenly not only right but desperately-need-them-on-my-body-right-now. Forgotten are my June/July 2011 staples: the floorlength grey jersey Acne dress, the second-hand ankle length blue and white striped jersey dress, and the fourteen thousand drapey khaki/black/grey/striped shirts I wore with them, forcing a belt over the top of the lot so I didn't disappear under rolls of cloth like the Michelin man (sweet though he is! Hai Bibendum.)
Last night I was a rhapsody in navy, the cornerstone of which was a navy Seventies jumpsuit by Cacharel, and I can only describe this morning's outfit as Heidi meets Happy Days. Picture a red velveteen knee-length dress with white smocking around the waist and flared, frilled sleeves (yes. Flared and frilled. Stand aside, ladies) with an oversized knit the colour of the Australian desert, belted with a brown and gold number with a brass buckle shaped like a rose, black stockinged legs, cream brogued feet, and a black and white wool-smocked cape from Peru on my shoulders doing the all-together all over my outrageously happy self.
Something I experience as interior here must find expression throughout my whole embodied self. I might smile more and I can tell you all about my delight (which stems from the heady realisation that I am death-defyingly, utterly loved and free) but my limbs demand to horn in on the action too. I find a ceaseless flow pouring inwards and outwards as my emotional state demands expression and by finding a means of visual articulation happiness radiates back "in."
Would that we had a better language to define the nuanced, delicate experience of feeling and doing, of the totality of human experientiality in the world. The concept of having an 'inner self' and an 'outer self' distinguishes too harshly between these interconnected states. Do I have two selves? I do not. I am one embodied self, what we might call a soul, a body, a personhood, an identity, forever meshed, ceaselessly being realised as I "do myself" in the world (Judith Butler's work on performativity is useful here if you want to think through what it might mean to 'perform' oneself.)
I conceptualise the need to dress in response to how I feel as a simultaneous emanation towards the world that is not myself, and towards my self. I represent something of me to you through my outfit and I also feel the right meeting of my self and clothing over my skin, and metaphorically, as the force of my emotions is dressed into sight by the colour and texture of my clothes. In this realisation is a satisfaction, a relief and a release that flows inwards. I know myself. I have recognised a need and met it, and am thus dressed for that particular day.
These philosophical ramblings are the product of reading a number of thought-provoking and wonderful writings by other thinkers who include (but are not limited to) Merleau-Ponty, Keith Basso, Judith Butler and Jenny Sunden.
And I might even drag out my poor neglected camera later on to snap photos of today's confection of clothing but in the meantime, here is an editorial that speaks to the crazy, unbounded and imaginative way I am currently demanding I dress myself:
In other news, I need that black and yellow opera coat. Need. It.
Images by Fabio Bartelt for L'Officiel Brazil June 2011 via Dustjacket Attic.