Friday, 24 January 2014

Wardrobe Architect, Week One

There's a great series going on on Colette Patterns' blog right now called Wardrobe Architect, about how to build a thoughtful, meaningful wardrobe. I'll be posting through their weekly exercises; if you're interested follow along and if you're interested to blog along, post your blog links in the comment.

The first week's exercise is to think about how your story-- your history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body-- inform the way you dress.

"...it can help buffer you against the onslaught of trends that we talked about above. Knowing who you are and what works for you lets you filter out a lot of those consumerist messages pretty easily. It feels good to be able to appreciate something without needing to own it... it gives you a stronger and more meaningful connection to the things you choose to have in your life."
The blog post provides a worksheet to help you think through those seven areas and how they affect your clothing choices. Here are my answers-- I'd love to read yours.

1) How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why? As a teenager, I grew disillusioned with mainstream fashion because I felt I could not emulate it, and I turned to a dark, more rebellious style (black clothing, combat boots, DIY fashion) that reflected my inner turmoil at the time. As my emotional life grew more steady, my clothing choices grew more lighthearted, but still taking an angle of not wanting to dress like other people. I thought often and hard about clothing, which eventually led to my current preference for timeless, well-crafted clothing with a long shelf-life.
2) How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected? Most notably, my Christianity compels me to value other people, so dressing respectfully (of the occasion, of my own dignity, and of other people's values) and modestly (in both the sense of "chaste" and of "not flauntingly"). The Christian principle of stewardship of the earth also informs my preference for ethically, sustainably made clothing. Finally, I believe my clothing should represent the joy that God has in creation, so I value creativity and beauty in clothing.

3) How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older? Both from a point of view of my heritage (Dutch farming community) and my own family (alt-rock parents with a down-to-earth, off-the-beaten-track sense of fashion), I was raised to value clothing that worked-- clothing you could dance in, run in, garden in: we like practical with our pretty while still valuing creative dress. My mum wore Docs instead of heels. I spent my childhood summers climbing trees and swimming. That sort of thing.
4) How are you influenced by those around you, including friends, family, and other communities you're involved in? Having indie/punk friends influenced my style a lot as a teenager, but these days my biggest style influence is probably my husband. His tastes run strongly to the classic, well-made, vintage-inspired, and impeccably neat, and I find myself a lot more likely to buy clothing in that vein now than when we got married (at that time I dressed quite whimsically).

5) How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices? I like to joke that being a mum is a bit like being a welder-- dressing glamorous for your job just makes you look foolish. I dress very simply for a job that involves lots of grubby toddler hands and baby spit-up: jeans and a tee, every day. I choose good quality-- Levis jeans, Everlane tees-- but it's a workhorse wardrobe. I enjoy Sundays and date nights getting dressed up, but I also enjoy the simplicity of having a uniform with no frills.
6) How does the place you live inform your dress? How does climate factor in? I love Canada, even on miserable, icy-wind-blasting days like today. I like the woodsy stubbornness of a people who'd live in such an inhospitable place, and I think my clothing choices reflect this in colour palette as well as durability, with a bit of a pioneer's flair.
7) In what way does body image affect your choice in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body? In the last three years (again largely influenced by my husband) I've come a journey of thinking badly about my body to being very proud of it and enjoying the way God made me. I think this is reflected in the comfort of my clothing-- I'm happy with the body I get to dress, and so it's easy to make choices about what's right for me and what suits me, instead of striving through clothing to be someone I'm not, whether that's a smaller size, or a different style (I've been guilty of both in the past). When you're hoping to be waifish, you dress differently than when you're happy with your size 12 hips (courtesy two sweet babies), and when you feel inadequate, you dress more defensively than if you feel confident.

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