Monday, September 30, 2013

thesis outtake: on getting dressed

I'm working up Chapter Five at the moment and am reviewing all of the bits and pieces I have written on patchy Word docs throughout these years, wondering if I'll find a few sentences that will prove useful to weave this new material together. I've found some great stuff I forgot I wrote, as well as lots and lots of paragraphs all sort of saying the same thing five times in five different places- delete! I also found the below, which I like but not for the thesis, so thought I'd share it here with you. It's a forgotten something, and an unintended foreword of sorts to a piece I wrote for Address, which will be coming out soon (but more on that later!)

I often pause in between deciding to get dressed and actually doing so. I consider the clothes that I own and are available for wear- clean, in good repair, and more importantly, clothes that are ‘speaking to me’. These may or may not be seasonally appropriate, but if not, I will try to find a way to render those that are too flimsy or too heavy suitable for wear. 

What drives me here is an impulse, an inchoate but sensible impulse that is unambiguous but inarticulable. I need to dress in a certain way, I feel myself drawn towards particular garments or a mood or a colour and it is often in the process of trying clothes on (and discarding them all over my bed) that I discover what it is that I want to wear. This impulse is a mystery to me, which in some sense justifies the mysterious language I have here employed to describe it. And yet it is propelled by my aesthetic sensibility- informed by images I have seen or people I have encountered whose look– or at least my sense of their look– I wish to literally embody through my clothing. 

Part of myself then- this impulse, this taste- is made material through the interplay of clothing over my embodied self, this intangible sense finding its fullest expression through my clothing. For someone who is drawn to clothing in this way- with a ‘feelingfulness for clothes’- clothing becomes enfolded in your everyday experience- my mood is directly affected, however momentarily, by the meetness of my clothing for that day. If I have misdressed, or if I cannot quite work my clothes together in a way that coheres with my feeling and expresses it, I feel dissatisfied, slightly at odds with myself. A kind of pale shame. Similarly, if I wake and feel flat or uninspired to get dressed, the process of dressing takes far longer, as I grasp towards some outfit that will engender feelings of comfort, confidence and attractiveness- I might dress in an outfit that has elicited such feelings before, or reach for black, comforting black that is simultaneously quiet and strong. Such days are not the days for trying outlandish new ensembles- those are the days I dress in chaotic brights, clashing prints, days where I feel triumphant and my irradiant mood will vibrate through my skin through my clothes and shimmer in the atmosphere around myself (or so it feels to me.)

This is an everyday practice illuminated, the synchronicity of dressing drawn on and the feelings drawn out by clothing- as wool's prickle draws an itch, so too can the right mix of garments draw certain feelings to my surface. I stop short from the word ‘emotion’ which is too emphatic; this is an impulsive affectivity, feelings that ripple at the surface of skin, touching both cloth and flesh. 

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