On clothing and identity

At lunch time I read Lauren Bravo’s article for The Pool entitled Sharing clothes? It’s the future of fashion, but I have to admit that it was mostly because the title made me wince. No offence to Lauren, as I always love a good personal wardrobe story, but the thought of someone raiding my wardrobe fills me with dread. This may stem from the very particular level of care I afford my clothing – which is almost certainly different to that of others, leading to inevitable friction when the item is returned – but I think it’s more likely because of how closely linked my clothing and my identity are.

When I open my wardrobe, I don’t just see garments that are my style and have been hand selected by me, I see myself. I see personal stories and history in that fabric. Selecting an outfit each morning is like reading The Book of Lori and working out which section I want to quote in the presentation that is my day. I don’t wear clothing to appear fashionable, I choose the items in my wardrobe because they reflect aspects of my identity that I wish to share with the world. Some pieces have become such a part of me over a number of years of ‘wear and care’ that I consider them irreplaceable, even though I could probably get my hands on something very similar if I really needed to.

It’s not that I’m completely averse to lending clothes to friends, but I have realised that I would never do it with garments that I consider to be everyday. Something that I only wear once in a while feels less like an extension of myself and more like a costume, so I feel totally comfortable loaning those pieces. Fancy dress outfits, party frocks, anything from my burlesque stash, and pretty yet impractical high-heeled shoes are all things I will happily lend to friends who I know will take good care of them. Ask to borrow my winter coat however, or one of the collection of swing skirts that I wear the way most people wear jeans, and you will receive a very confused look in return.

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