I love clothes. An unexpected huge, high collar, precise, pleasing tailoring, rich to the touch, elegant fabric. I love high fashion -- the clothes in runway shows, costumes, clothes that no one could possibly wear out in the real world, or could they?
I’ve been dreaming about my perfect wardrobe all my life, as I’ve been dreaming about a lot of things. The clothes in my mind are the real me, as is the woman in my mind who at times makes an appearance out in the world, clear, bright-eyed, capable, and then moves back into the weeds and waits for the safe signal to appear again. From who? From where? I want more than anything at this point in my life to let myself be just as I am.
Perhaps that clear-eyed woman will show up more often if all I have in my closet are the clothes that I want, that fit right, that feel right, that I will actually put on, not the clothes I consider out of some frustrating habitual practice of hanging onto things because I feel empty and needy and I better hang on for dear life to whatever I can. That might-want-to-wear-and-sometimes-do-but-don't-feel-good-in shit is the same as not speaking, being careful, being watchful, trying to stay safe, settling.
Clothes are a place my imagination takes off, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that from looking at me. I keep it in check. I've never had the budget to go nuts in designer stores, but that's not why I don't always wear what I love. As long as I can remember, particularly when I’m going out at night, I will ruminate all day on what I want to wear, creating an outfit in my head, sometimes even then putting it on, standing in front of the mirror, enjoying it for a moment, and then talking myself out of it and ending up in jeans and a shirt. I like jeans and a shirt, it’s a good look, has the potential for a lot of variety, but it’s not always what I mean. It’s the weeds. I’m afraid. I’m tall and striking and people stare at me anyway, and if I wear some larger than life dress or a low neckline or a high slit or heels that put me well over six feet or my hair up like a bird or multiple patterns mixed together or velvet or red or whatever, I’ll be exposing myself. I'll be exposing what I think of myself. I’m afraid -- heart pounding, anxiety-ridden, second-guessing the truth I know, ages-old afraid.
The compromises I have been making have bled into everything. And I don’t mean the necessary compromises we all have to make to get along in this life. I mean the ones that break you inside, the stories you’ve been telling yourself about yourself because you had to, that have never felt right, the slouch in your shoulders, your eyes darting away, your arms across your chest, your feet shuffling back and forth, your muffled words, your silent agreement to go along with the belief that all this protection and caution and equivocation is necessary. Who are you going to be out there in the world without it? Who are you going to be without all these side-hustles, side-glances, slanted hips, and breathless sighs? Who are you going to be just walking, walking one foot in front of the other, back straight, eyes level, wearing what you love? Who is that woman?
Getting rid of some of the clothes in my closet is not going to be any easier than getting rid of the beliefs about myself that I have hung onto. But I need to see the truth lined up in front of me in the morning when I decide what to put on and cut the bullshit.