Every autumn I’m excited pulling out my vests, sweaters, wool pants, wool skirts and suits. Why is that? It’s because I associate these items with dressing well. Dressing well means feeling good about myself, playing a part, creating a persona. For instance, I’ve created the persona of the excentric artist! I also like the college student look, the sectretary, the librarian, and the colorful intello. And that’s just my fall wardrobe!
Similarly, the concept of distilling my identity is intriguing and fits in with finding my intention in work and life as well. If I can figure out my intention everything else falls into line. But, how do I go about shedding all the layers that are superfluous? It is a question that haunts me at the moment. I really want to get at the core of everything in my work and life.
In the end of the 18th century, a curious figure imerged and fascinated the public, they were named the dandy. The well dressed person of leisure. I’m inspired by dandyism. Baudelaire wrote about culitivating one’s personal ideal of beauty, feeling and thinking, which “elevates aesthetics to a living religion”. Why can’t life be art and art be about how you live life? Being so in the present moment and aware could indeed be considered spiritual.
So, I’ve been know to say « If you want to be a rock star, dress like a rock star ». If I feel like a rock star other people will think I’m a rock star. If I’m also diligently learning the ukulele I will be ready when it happens to me ! I’ve also heard, « dress for the job you want ; not the job you have ».
In other words, say I’m not feeling that great one day, I’m kinda in a funk. Putting on makeup, getting my hair cut and colored, can make a world of difference! The shell, the mask is important even if it is only a form of protection.
Dressing for Comfort
The modern tendancy is dressing for comfort, Ugly Boots, jeans, t-shirts etc. Why ?!! I’m truly horrified by how badly and inappropriately people dress sometimes. Cheap, throw away fashion, like the kind you find at H & M, never really make you feel special. As a result you tend to wear these things 3 or 4 times. After that they just don’t hold up anymore. I don’t do it any longer, it’s such a waste!
However, that piece that cost a fortune, (but I got it on sale), or took me forever to find, that makes me feel special. When clothes fit perfectly, I know if I am putting on weight, no need to get on the scale. I’m lucky, I can sew and I’ve customized a lot of my clothing. I’ve also learned to make certain items that fit me like a dream.
Does therefore, being well groomed mean I’m self absorbed? I prefer to think it is self care. Does dressing in vintage clothes mean I have vintage values? No! I love the items that never go out of style and the quality of the fabric and workmanship. I love customizing and recycling.
The importance of appearance
The importance of appearance in our society is real, despite this reign of comfort. We communicate non verbally in so many ways. In the ’80’s a few books came out about power dressing and dressing for success. Of course this is superficial and of course we must be vigilant against body shaming and be accepting of all body types and forms. Still, I look in the mirror before leaving the house and make sure I’m dressed the way I want to express myself.
Some great modern dandys and links:
Patrick McDonald shoe designer
My Pinterest Vintage fashion board here
Tweed Run- bicycle enthusiasts and dandys from all over the world organize annual « dressed up » rides.
If you liked this article I’ve written a few about similar subjects: