Do you care about fashion?

When I met Greg, he had a uniform: jeans or khakis that were usually a size too large, a plaid flannel shirt, and a pair of hiking boots. He owned three green sweatshirts, because obviously two wouldn’t be enough, and his mom bought all of his clothes for him. He was 22.

Greg doesn’t care about fashion, though he is definitely putting forth more effort as he gets older. But I do, which works out nicely because someone has to buy clothes for our family.

When I decided to try nursing school, my main reason for going was to have a job that mattered. After we lost Genevieve, the world looked very black and white to me. I pondered my mortality a lot. Being a good wife and mother mattered to me, and helping other people mattered to me. But nothing else did. What use were literature, art, music, and fashion? They could not prevent suffering or death.

As time passed, my perspective shifted. Yes, the world could endure if people quit painting and dancing and writing, but what would that world look like? Reading a great novel doesn’t keep me alive, but it does breathe joy into my life. When Greg and I were in New York City over the summer, I attended a performance by American Ballet Theatre, and the dancers were so ethereal that they seemed the antithesis of death. Here was life — leaping, stretching, spinning life.

You could certainly debate whether fashion falls into the same category as music, art, and literature. I have a love-hate relationship with fashion. I know that nice clothes aren’t a necessity, that we could all go through life wearing a uniform. I know that my money could be spent on more important things. But I think about what the world would look like if we walked around in potato sacks. And then those suede boots that I bought last week seem like a small way that I can throw color, texture, and shape into the world.

So, I’m curious, do you put extra money and time into your wardrobe, or are clothes just something to keep you warm? Can clothing be a source of joy? (Anyone who knows how I feel about shoes already has my answer to this.)

3 thoughts on “Do you care about fashion?

  1. Sarah, I don’t care much for “fashion” but I do have a deep desire for beauty. I guess I see fashion as serving up potentially interesting but mostly silly things. For me, the good, the true, and the beautiful must all align. I think I have a few benchmarks I subconsciously go by: Is it comfortable enough to wear for a couple of hours without giving me pain? Could I attend to my child in an emergency in it if I had to–and that means sprinting to catch them, carry them, lift them, kneel down to them? Does it fit my body type and enhance it? Does it keep me warm or cool? And does it put that kind of beauty into the world that I am particularly drawn to, whether the warm, cozy kind, or the detailed, intricate kind, or the bright, energizing kind? And importantly, does my husband find me attractive in it? As you might suspect, I only find a few things every year that fit this criteria, and when I do, I buy them, and I’m always on the look-out for them. I have to say that as mothering goes, I find the long, flowy skirt ideal. It’s a built-in picnic blanket, an emergency towel for wiping hands or faces, a sunscreen, something for a small child to hold onto when your hands are full, and it does the most lovely swishing. It can be worn to the park or to the restaurant. It keeps one cool in the air conditioning. It can be worn with heels or flip flops or tights and boots. Except for the fact that it gets caught in the grocery cart wheels and sometimes gets pulled down when the children climb on me, it is the perfect item of clothing: feminine and multi-functional.

  2. I enjoyed reading your lovely, introspective post and the preceding comment by Aunt Laura. I think fashion is certainly not an issue I would consider to be among the socially-redeeming ideals in my world, but it does bring pleasure and joy. I would have to note here that I stopped subscribing to magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and W years ago because they filled me with angst and made me feel bad. Looking at those stick-thin models was distressing on at least two levels: for one, I would never look like them (and didn’t want to); two, it was upsetting to see them put forth as an icon of what society finds (or should find) beautiful. Clothes are important to me and whether or not I think I’m being fashionable often depends on how much weight I’ve gained or lost. Those of us who are in the live-to-eat camp likely struggle with weight and body image issues our whole lives. I don’t mean to exclude others who struggle with food and weight here–I know it’s not just us foodies. But no matter what my weight is, I want to dress well, and I think that over the years, I have learned to camouflage flaws and accent features well with my clothes. I can’t wear Spandex attractively (and really don’t want to–I mean, who wants to feel like they’re wrapped in plastic wrap), but I can rock a long sequin gown like Mae West! In fact, better than Mae West! If there were an article of clothing that brings me joy, I would have to say “a scarf.” I have way too many, but they are beautiful, functional and can change your outfit and your mood in seconds. They add panache, glamour and visual impact to a basic wardrobe. And they can be textural, rustic or gossamer and veil-like. I also have a hat fetish and don’t get to wear them much. They can be very flashy. OK, I can be very flashy. So yes, fashion is important and brings joy to self and others. And may I be so bold as to say that although I don’t know you, I am sorry for your loss. Deeply so.

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