Last month I bought nine pounds of fashion magazines.
I weighed them. Seriously. Nine pounds. The September issue of Vogue, actually, is all that carried me through the last couple of legs of our family Ireland trip, during which we flew to Charlotte, only to have to fly through New York to get home to Raleigh. I had a moment of black despair. I bought Vogue, and it gave me enough hope to board another plane.
When I read The Thoughtful Dresser a couple of years ago, I stopped thinking that fashion was frivolous. Before that, I loved to follow fashion anyway; I participated, but didn’t take it seriously. I’d challenge anyone, though, to read the essay about the unknown woman who bought the red shoes, and not come out of that with an understanding that what we choose to wear is a fundamental part of our humanity, and at least a temporary projection to the world (and ourselves) about our identity.
Which is why I have spent the last frustrating hour in front of my closet. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in there, in which I am willing to leave the house tomorrow. It’s all wrong. Everything I bought when I started working as an architecture intern reflects what I thought interning would require. Today, I spent the day typing letters and choosing caulk samples. Nothing in my closet works for typing and caulk samples. (I could try the “dress for the job you want to be doing” approach, but let’s not even discuss the emotional quagmires involved in that line of thinking.) And tomorrow is an in-between day; cool in the morning, but muggy and too-warm-for-October by afternoon. Throw in rain, and the fact that my outfit tomorrow has to take me from caulk to night class to live music? I may be asking this hypothetical outfit to do impossible things.
It’s not usually this hard. We all have our go-to outfits, the ones that work every time; it’s easy to mix and match pieces, or throw something new into the mix when seasons change, or attitudes change, and add a little variety here and there. Unless, of course, you are either in a rut (which makes dressing much easier, but much less fun) or you are craving a shake-up (which makes dressing nigh impossible, unless you know exactly what you want your shake-up to be.)
I was hoping, somewhere in the nine pounds of magazines, that I would find some inspiration, something to help me uncover what I want my personal next season to look like. A game-changer, if you will. I didn’t find anything in the fashion magazines. Turns out, it really isn’t my closet’s fault anyway. As my father the doctor always said, “Treat the problem, not the symptoms.” And I will. But I will also spend a few hours on a merciless closet purge. Anything that doesn’t look like I want my next chapter to look: gone. Even if I’m not sure what’s next, I’m getting to be more confident about what’s not next. And that’s a fair place to start.
But I still don’t have anything to wear tomorrow.