Thursday, 8 May 2014

Things that confuse me: clothing

How and why do you choose what to wear? I don't pretend much interest in fashion, but I'm weirdly obsessed with this question. I think I've blogged about it before in the context of a discussion about gender, but this time I want to tackle it in as gender-neutral a way as possible, because it's still interesting to me independently of any of the things that make the topic an important part of gender discourse.

It took me a long time to go from asking the general question (normally as a writer, when trying to work out what my characters would have on in a particular scene) to examining my own process of getting dressed in the morning. Not being a morning person in the slightest, getting dressed passes in something of a haze for me at the best of times, so looking back at it isn't very productive. I'm sure I do actually make decisions of some kind, but I'm not sure what they involve. It feels like there's a logic there that just doesn't translate into the fully-awake world.

I'm a little bit limited in this regard, too, by the fact that I don't own a terribly wide choice of clothing. This is partly laziness, partly having other things I'd rather spend money on, and partly cowardice. Some years ago, I figured out a way to look more-or-less acceptable across a wide range of situations (including at work at both my jobs and in pretty much any social situation I'd actually like to be in), and haven't really dared push that envelope ever since. My choices in the morning tend to come down to more or less which colour shirt to wear (dark red, dark purple, or black), and what's in the wardrobe rather than the laundry basket.

But even within that, there are some choices. I have a couple of 'lucky' t-shirts, for example. There's no statistical evidence that either of them is actually lucky, but something in the primitive hindquarters of my brain does push me to wear them on any day where I'm worried about some big event or other. Whether I wear a shirt that needs to be tucked in (and thus look a bit more grown-up and square) or one that can be worn loose (which is scruffier and - I dare to hope - a little bit louche) is another.

And clearly there's a world of choice that I'm completely disconnected from. There's a whole industry built up around providing choice (or arguably the illusion of it) in what to wear. Many people I know will change outfits multiple times in a day, sometimes for purely aesthetic reasons - one outfit for lazing around at home, one for going to classes, then another for going out in the evening - and if it seems weird to you that I'm surprised by this, you have some idea of how perplexed I am by the whole thing.

I'm not so much talking about choices that are set by social rules or norms - even I can manage to wear a suit for a wedding (though give me the slightest chance to get away without doing so and I'll take it...). It's any time where you can choose what you look like - what do you think about? Is it more about how you think other people will see you? Do you try to imitate a particular style? What, if anything, are you conscious of as factors in the decision?

I'd ask if I'm over-thinking this, but I think at this point that's a given...

No comments:

Post a Comment