I don't have the same relationship with fashion as I used to, I feel disconnected from fashion, it seems to have lost its glamour and sense of adventure. I sometimes feel like breaking up with it.
When I say fashion, I don’t mean the job I do. I am a fashion teacher which I love, what I mean Is the way I interact with it every day and the way it touches my life and is part of my identity. The way I dress has always been so much more than just having the most fashionable clothes or looking cool, it has always been part of the way I explore the world and tell my story. This connection to clothing is the thing that I have lost, and the current fashion landscape isn’t giving me and so while everyone has been shopping online I have taken a step back I haven’t bought a piece of clothing in nearly a year.
I need to embark on a journey to find the joy in fashion, to start to tell my story and wear clothes that have meaning beyond the designer label and the number of likes it racks up. No more outfits of the day and more clothes that make me smile, laugh, cringe and make me feel more like me. I need to Engage with clothes that feel precious and aren’t churned through – sent to the abyss of second-hand clothing market– because they haven’t been worn in a year (or whatever that rule is) or have been “seen before”. But clothes that are worn again and again and again because they mean so much.
I recently watched Step into Paradise, a documentary about the life and loves of Jenny Kee and her amazing creative partnership with LindaJackson. The documentary reminded me of the joy I used feel about fashion and the raucous creativity of the 80’s and 90’s. I miss the vibrant experimental feel of those times and designers, the intimate feel of the industry, the closeness to designers and the way having any of these pieces felt special. The incredible sameness and ridiculous accessibility of clothing now has left me cold and unexcited by having these clothes in my life. I used to fantasise about clothes I saw in magazines and shopping was a hunt, an adventure, a discovery and now the very thought of stepping into most shops leaves me feeling disappointed before I even get there.
I haven’t bought a piece of clothing for nearly a year (in fact it has been so long I am having trouble remembering the last thing I bought, maybe it was an Oroton dress just before Christmas last year) and I feel fine, in fact better than fine. Hiding at home during a pandemic has given me the freedom take a sneaky step away from fashion and feel relieved of the pressure of needing to have new and Instagram likable fashion all the time. But while I haven’t missed shopping I have started to miss fashion and the part it has always played in my life, I have missed the joyful side of fashion.
So, I am heading off on a journey to find my fashion joy, to want to get dressed every day and feel inspired and energised enough to experiment and play with fashion again. What does this look like? I don’t really know but I do know I need to invest a little time and energy into giving my clothes more meaning. When I was younger I wore vintage, I made my own clothes,I upcycled, recycled, painted, dyed, sewed and was so incredibly invested in everything I wore. It took effort, time and thought to come up with every item and outfit, it was time spent at a sewing machine or hours in a vintage shop hunting for the perfect thing. These clothes meant so much to me and had so many memories attached to the getting of them, the plotting and planning of the perfect outfit, a tricky dress finally finished, finding a gem in an op shop after a long hunt. But there were also the memories attached to the wearing of these clothes like the memory of a great party or meeting the love(s) of your life or that little shop in the Marais. How we came to be the kind of people that are throwing out our memories for something that strangers are going to be impressed with is a whole other blogpost.
The parameters and rules for this journey are footloose and fancy free with the proposed outcome more than just a little bit vague….I will be trying to rediscover my fashion story and find a new joy in the industry that has been such an enormous part of my life.
I have always been a maker; it is how I have made my living for most of my career and so the way clothes are made has always been important to me and that human touch is very much part of the thing that gives a garment so much importance. In homage to the old me making is where I will be starting, I will be slowing down and heading back to the sewing machine and making my clothes. If I need it I am going to make it, if I want it I am going to make it. What does this look like when I need something like new undies? As I have never made a pair of undies in my life probably a bit of a disaster but maybe that is part of the journey and God help me if I need a new bra anytime soon.While a lot of learning new skills might be involved in this journey, I don’t think I can stretch to shoemaking, will this journey lead to even more shoe buying than usual? Potentially. Is vintage shopping allowed in this scenario?Possibly, like I said the rules are pretty loose and it is totally about the journey.