Do you ever find yourself replaying The Devil Wears Prada intro scene in your head, thinking about how much it mirrors your own life–you know, the crazy-beautiful one made all the more fabulous by wearing uber glamorous clothes and buying ridiculously expensive jewelry and waking up next to insanely beautiful models?
Me too! We’re so wonderful. And rich.
Maybe I’m not glamorous or super rich, but I do have an extremely handsome guy whose tolerance of my annoyingly incessant Instagramming borders on award-worthy. But I’ll gladly take him over a stocked wardrobe any day. Because even a little glamour can be stretched a long, long way–preferably over the flocks of crow’s feet hovering around my eyes.
Clothing is armor. It, quite literally, keeps you contained. And not just in the preventing-wardrobe-malfunction sense.
Having spent years working outside–digging and sifting soil, traipsing through the wilderness, getting electrocuted by cattle fences–I was unaware of what staple pieces every person should have in their professional wardrobe. Especially since most of my clothes were ripped, stained, or otherwise destroyed.
But on the weekends, I was able to wear what I wanted. And I’d stupidly assumed that being an “individual” meant eschewing those “mainstream” ideas of “fashion assimilation.” (And I’m pretty sure I put everything in quotation marks, too.) After all, I felt on-level fashion-wise with everyone around me.
But then I took a look around, and realized I was basing my fashion off of Disinterested Old Academics (DOA’s). And then I got an office job. Which meant more public face time.
So I upgraded my boots and jeans, threw in a little questionable taste, and went on my merry way to work at an Army installation. And while I was mostly surrounded by a cornucopia of fashion faux pas, I also had the distinct pleasure of working with young professionals who dressed, well, professionally–appropriately for their age, body type, and job level.
Still, good taste often attracts naysayers–sideways glances, rolling eyes–from the “lifer” side of the office; you know, the folks who’ve given up and drilled a permanent outhouse for their pop-up camper life. (I don’t know what that means either, but the image in my head fits.) But who cares?
Despite one old fart’s persistent compilation of nylon pants–fully equipped with in-built camel toe–baseball cap, turtleneck, and paisley leggings, the well-dressed among us got repeated compliments, and unintentionally recreated a few Sex and the City sidewalk scenes on our way out through the barbed wire fences to Starbucks.
But that didn’t stop me from paying homage to all of the bad taste I’d experienced on the eve of my glittery exit.
Andy’s influence on my wardrobe has been pretty stellar. And plenty of people realize it. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that, but if it feels as good as the cashmere sweaters I’ve inherited from him, then that’s fine by me. (Oh, so soft.)
A purge of residual nods to my darker, misunderstood, failed goth years coincided with an influx of tailored pants, high-quality button downs, and a few blazers. And belts. And cedar shoetrees–the point of which I never understood, until I purchased some big boy shoes that I never want to see harmed or deflated or destroyed or dampened.
Basically, I want them draped in plastic. Or at least have plastic draped over all puddles, oil slicks, and dog poop they may splatter. Because they represent my new beginning–at an office where people dress to impress, where their clothes accentuate their character and empower them.
So as I caressed my new shoes, I realized how gutting and reinventing a wardrobe can be even more cathartic than culling stuff. Because while that chair may be nice, you’re not wearing it–it doesn’t perfectly frame your shoulders, or add that bit of pizzazz that you might need in the morning after a horrendous meeting.
And maybe, just maybe, it’ll remind you that your spark hasn’t been snuffed out.
Just reinvented, given a new life–a new sole.