Your Real Look – Part One Of The Closet Saga – Moths And Dust

I don’t mean the look that the latest fashion site, catalog, or store promo would like you to have. I don’t mean the look that your school, regiment, or company require you to wear. I don’t mean the clothing that you can afford or the ensemble that you can’t afford.

I mean the real look that is really you. That’s a tough one to nail down – I know people who have been hammering as fast as they can all their lives and it’s still comin’ up at the edges…

And in case you were worried about the closet reference as a sex and gender thing…this is not about that at all. Come out or go in there as much as you like – just don’t slam the closet door off the hinges. This is about what you wear.

Today’s question is simple; do you have a real look – yet?

Go to your wardrobe or closet with a rolled up magazine and turn on the light. Shoo away the cat. Then haul back and hit the clothes a good hard whack with the rolled magazine. Are you enveloped in a cloud of moths and dust? Are you swatting and coughing? If you are, there is a good chance that you do not have your real look.

You have a collection of odds and ends that you have not had the courage to toss out. You have not worn them and they have sat neglected – for a very good reason. They are not you. They may have been worn by you some time ago but they were not sufficiently real to fix themselves in your psyche.

If you do find clothes that are not covered by dust and are worn into familiar shapes that resemble you – like the husk of a butterfly after it has moulted – you are on the trail of the real look. These are clothes that you wear to death, and you wear them because they are comfortable. Comfortable for your body and for your mind. They are clues to the real look you are seeking.

Tomorrow we follow the clues.

 

The Costumed Society – Everyday Re-enacting

If you’re bored and want to start a fruitless argument, ask a group of re-enactors to justify what they do. You’ll get a variety of responses – angry, scholarly, theatrical, comical, righteous, etc. The only other topic that will set them off quite as violently is a discussion about correct period shoes.

People who re-enact dress up and play up on a regular basis. They’ll have something to do on a weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or yearly basis, and the amount of effort put into it increases as the interval lengthens. An annual trek to a medieval fair or a famous battle recreation can take far more than a year to prepare for and recover from.

Most re-enactors have daily jobs, uncostumed lives, modern connections. Few can live in a historical location, dressed in authentic garb, doing period activities. None of them wish to be doing this when it comes to sanitation, hygiene, and health emergencies. It is analogous to choosing where you want your horse to throw a shoe – outside the blacksmith’s or 130 miles away. You decide…

But there are facets of re-enacting that can be incorporated into daily life, and at a very modest price. Unlike buying the authentic, hand-last, organic died, battle-axe that you lusted over in the Pakistani catalog, there are things you can do for free.

a. Read about your chosen period. Libraries. Internet. Other people’s collections. There is never any dearth of new history written about old history.

b. Read in your chosen period. This is different from (a.) above. This time you don’t read other people’s reports – you read the literature of the day that was… not today. If you can’t read it because you can’t read Greek, or Persian, or Aztec, well you have your work cut out for you. Off you go. Start from the basics. Your goal is to see what the people said when they said it.

c. Consider the manners of the chosen period. If it is a time when there were no manners, you will have to bear that in mind for the next section…

d. Reproduce the manners of your chosen target time – and your chosen persona. You see – if you think being a Viking berserker is the finest weekend activity you can engage in, you may not be able to stretch this forward to Tuesday when you actually have to go to work at the local Beaurepaire’s or meet a professional client. You might have boxed yourself into a circumstance where you cannot play all the time.

Think again. If you are old and grey and slow, perhaps choosing a different pattern to model yourself upon is a good idea. A gentleman or lady of whatever period should usually have enough manners to be acceptable in any company. Likewise a philosopher, a literate, a scientist. If you local law prevents you from swinging an axe and howling  in the Coles checkout on a regular basis, try for re-enacting of a different sort.

e. Live your life in the rhythm of the day – as it was lived back then. If your period of time saw people getting up at daybreak and subsiding after dark for want of light and warmth…do so yourself. Readjust your clock – you can still wash clothes in a washing machine and use a refrigerator and poop in a flushing toilet – no need to go primitive and dangerous – but do it in the daytime.

Carouse at night if you must, but even here make sure that you do it within the economics and time frame of your target. You’ll save money and make less of a goog of yourself.

f. Readjust your speech. Here is where your early researches pay off. Use old words and eschew new ones. Use period phrasing and punctuation in your written communications. Write letters and post them. When you write an email to someone put the equivalent amount of postage that you would have used had the letter been a physical one into a jar with a narrow opening. When the jar is full, break it and use the money to buy your next physical accessory or costume item. If you have not got the price of the postage on you, consider well whether your communication need be written at all.

See? You can start to live the life with no big outlay, and if you continue steadily, you may find that you are having the most authentic of experiences.

As for myself, I have stopped cursing people, as it is not genteel. Or terribly effective. I now tell them that they may go to another place and do another thing…an authentic Victorian bowdlerization of telling them to go to hell and be damned. I do offer the occasional handbasket…

 

Retro-Trending Fashionista Guru Icon Mentor International Superstar Ambassador

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I have all the qualifications. A closet and a wardrobe full of old clothes.

The closet contains Secrets that would horrify Victoria. Like underwear that started off white but has become very colourful over time. And garments that have lost their elasticity faster than I lost mine. Pairs of socks that would get you arrested in rural Mississippi. Tee shirts that are holier than thou…

DSCF0027The wardrobe has row upon row of fashion statements – statements such as ” No.”, “NO!!”, and “Get that thing away from me.”. There are garments still in use that were purchased so long ago that the factories where they were made have been pulled down. In some cases the cities where they were made have been left in ruins and in one case the entire country disappeared. Looking at the clothing makes me think it had something to do with the disaster.

We’ve all looked at fashion purchases that we’ve made and thought; ” What was I thinking?” in my case I just add a little punctuation and it comes out better; ” What? Was I Thinking?”. Every sight of these garments is a painful one – I see myself in the store and I see me inspecting myself in the shop mirror. Then I see me handing over money to the shop assistant and them doubling up over the counter laughing. Shop assistants in clothing stores have a peculiarly penetrating laugh.

And then I see myself cleaning, ironing, and storing this stuff for the last 40 years. And here is still is. Unworn, unwrinkled, and unwearable, and I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice all that horrible investment by throwing it out.

I know I have tried. God knows I have tried. I have put it in green garbage bags and lugged it to the Salvation Army and Goodwill bins after dark and shoved it in. And you kVictoria’s Secret, underwear, socksnow what happens?

A Salvation Army lassie turns up at my door and shoves it all back in. I am lucky if she doesn’t hit upside the head with her tambourine as she leaves.