What It Is

by Maida Korte

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!”–Anonymous

            I spent last Sunday afternoon in my closet. After watching numerous videos on how to purge my wardrobe I was confident and committed to the task.  I understood that I was to try everything on, keeping only the items that I loved and actually wore.  The main hurdle though was keeping only items that actually fit.  It would be worth it, I was told by countless YouTube videos, since this would result in me being able to easily “shop my closet” where I would discover tantalizing outfits with interesting belt buckles and tops tucked just so.  I plunged ahead.  I thought, “Who knows!  Maybe something amazing is lurking within.”   One hour into it and I marched downstairs standing strident before my husband.  Lifting my hands over my head and with one sudden fast down-ward swing said, “THIS is what you get for the rest of your life.” 

            Getting dressed is a ritual of sorts for me and has been as long as I can remember.  Even in the days of torn jeans and wearing one of my dad’s flannel shirts unbuttoned over a tiny camisole top, I put thought into each outfit, each day, each change of clothing.  During High School I had a ‘snow dress’ that I sewed myself, saving it for the first day of snow each year.  I had art days where I wore torn jeans with wide bell bottoms and I would sew fringe on the hem of each leg.  I created interesting patches placed strategically on back pockets and short short corduroy skirts with large sweatered tops.  I modified patterns and looked thru magazines for ideas that I would ‘borrow’ and create my own version of a zippered front dress, a patent leather jumper, a body suit beneath a tiny printed mini-skirt, or a wrap-around maxi skirt with a slit up to the mid-thigh. Boots, clogs, high-top tennis shoes, fishnet stockings, headbands, braids, barrettes and baubles completed each outfit.    I wrote everything down in a little booklet calendar each day, and since I made most of my own clothes, I worked out a three-week rotation. 

            Once I started art college, I modified my wardrobe to include skinny jeans before they were a ‘thing’ and wore large baggy shirts with paint all over them contrasting with the days I wore tiny dresses and gym shoes.  The days of sewing my own clothes waned and I began to shop at resale stores when there was really only Amvets and Goodwill.  I found everything I needed though, from military jackets to baggy pants and t-shirts where I could cut the sleeves off and tie the hem into a knot.  My outfits ranged from early punk to ingenue.  Once I married and started having babies, I entered the land of sweatpants and white t-shirt and it took me years to find my wardrobe jive again.  Nausea and nursing were my landscape for over six years and even though fashion and clothing entered the land of Narnia, I had my girls and nothing else mattered.  I transferred my love of fashion to my four darling daughters and began to sew most of their clothes while also visiting resale shops with renewed vigor.  We accepted all offers of old clothing that came our way looking thru bags of purses, high-heels, tweed skirts, knit pants and collared blouses for everyday fare or delegated to our stock pile of ‘dress-up’ clothes.    Looking back at old photos there is a distinct contrast to the days of clothing children compared with putting thought into clothing myself.  Fashion became an arid land where covering my body was the important thing and the only thing.  As my girls grew up, little by little I began to emerge from the chrysalis of mother-hood and find meet-cute moments for dressing again.  A birthday party here, a banquet there, I found moments to gather just the right outfit by combining something old with something found – a treasure in the form of lace or silk or linen.  Tiny thin belts around a flowery dress or a scarf tied just so to embellish my hand-bags I found inexpensive ways to put personality back into my wardrobe.  Ever the wearer of jeans it became the top or the shoe or the necklace that formed the signature.  Accessories entered my fashion landscape and finding adorable items became part of the hunt.  Necklaces always work, brooches can be tricky, large flashy earrings and not one other thing, ever the bracelet on the right wrist, watch on the left, tiny chains or dangly gems or scarves over shoulder or chain belts, these special affects are the musical back-ground that complete the ritual of getting dressed each day.

            My daughters grew up, married and began having babies of their own. A renewed cycle of everyday easy to slip into clothing contrasted with the special occasion outfit where we all take pictures of what we will be wearing has become common place and part of our text conversations.  I now have fashion editors in the form of four girls who all have their own opinions of not only what they will wear, but what Mom will wear as well.  They tell me the truth and that is worth far more than the nicest sales person trying to get me to buy the floppy hat that just doesn’t work or the dress that is a tad too short.  So, my closet purge ending in nothing fitting me is a betrayal of sorts. I want it to be the clothing’s fault.  Certainly not my waist line!  But eventually I have to own the fact that it is what it is.  Waist lines get bigger, legs get older, hair thins, and some things just don’t fit any longer.  But my guy still wants a kiss and I am much blessed. 

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