02 October 2008

What are you wearing?

37. The Hakawati by Rabih Alemeddine (4/5)

A book of fiction that masterly interweaves a family's history with myths and stories within stories. Most of it takes place in and around Lebanon at different periods which is compelling to read about in and of itself. This paragraph has been on my mind for a couple of weeks:
So my boy comes up with the wisest thing. He said, ‘Everything here is too big for me. I couldn’t grow into it.’ At first, I thought he was talking about his physical size, so I tried to reassure him–it can’t be easy being small. But then I realized he was talking about something else. He really couldn’t make those clothes fit him. In his mind, the Boss suit was made for that blond model, not him. And that’s the secret. Never wear clothes that are bigger than you are unless you intend to grow into them. If you want to wear a great suit, either you believe it belongs to you or you’ll look like you’re thirteen and wearing your mother’s clothes. Doesn’t that make sense? It’s the same in life. Never live a life too big for you. You either grow bigger to encompass it or shrink it to fit you.
Fashion, tailored clothing, the look of it has always appealed to me, but it's never been something I've sought out to wear (which typically leaves me in a bind for weddings and funerals). I don't feel like I have the life for those clothes. Besides, who wants to hassle with dry cleaning if they don't have to? Despite my education, my outlook is pretty blue-collar when it comes to clothing.

Still, What Not To Wear and its US version wouldn't be the successes they are if there wasn't something to the idea of changing from the outside in.

But then there's Henry David Thoreau's argument in Walden:
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles. Our moulting season, like that of the fowls, must be a crisis in our lives. The loon retires to solitary ponds to spend it. Thus also the snake casts its slough, and the caterpillar its wormy coat, by an internal industry and expansion; for clothes are but our outmost cuticle and mortal coil. Otherwise we shall be found sailing under false colors, and be inevitably cashiered at last by our own opinion, as well as that of mankind.
Change first, then change the wardrobe. This is more my route at present which mostly means I'm talking myself out of buying stuff similar to what I currently wear. There are stray garments in my closet that belong to the sassy fashionista within, but I very rarely wear them because most of the time, they don't metaphorically fit. Talking your brain out of self-consciousness is not so simple, especially when you're not convinced you want to be noticed.

The clothes I wear reflect the life I'm leading at present; I just envision something different for myself, bigger. However, even in this life, the clothes I've relied on for so long are losing their appeal. What to replace them with though?

Do your clothes fit your life, or the life you want to have?

Two years ago on TTaT: Time for college


  1. Very interesting post!

    I think my clothes fit my life, and then I went through a self-transformation, and the clothes had to change too, kind of like you described in the second quote.

    Hmm. I wonder if I was trying to dress "bigger" before I was mentally ready.

  2. thanks, Kilax. Sometimes (often) it helps to have a catalyst to get you moving which it sounds like you had a bit from work if I recall. You seemed to adjust to it pretty quickly though which is great.