I’ve tended to assume that there are two broad categories into which people fit: those who view clothes as an expression of their personalities (and consequently spend a bit of time and money on them) and those who see clothes as having utilitarian purposes only.
Whether we are aware of it or not, what we choose to wear tells others around us how we felt about the day ahead. It is a direct reflection of external influences: weather, modes of transport, type of planned activity; and internal perceptions: how we feel about the day ahead, our physical and mental being. Are we energised? Lethargic? Feeling attractive or just average?
This may be too simplistic an interpretation, but since starting this project, it has sparked people to talk to me about their relationships with clothing and how they make them feel.
Only yesterday, I spoke to someone about why she is a hoarder of clothes. After digging a bit deeper, it became apparent that she kept clothes she hadn’t worn for a while as motivation to lose weight and fit back into them. ‘Of course,’ she laughed ‘if I did fit back into them, it’s likely I would just want to go out and buy a new set anyway’.
It occurred to me that many of us hoard clothing for similar reasons. Perhaps you keep an intricately beaded dress because it was a gift from a loved one, or it is a keepsake that your mother or grandmother once wore. Perhaps you continue to wear clothes you know don’t really suit you but you have lost your passion for updating your style because you don’t physically feel you’re at your best.
No matter the reason, I think your wardrobe reflects, in part, your current state of mind. A crammed wardrobe full of clothes reflected my hectic lifestyle and tendency to impulsively buy new things on a whim without much thought to what I already owned. Choosing specific clothing may reflect a need for comfort, familiarity, utilitarian purposes or merely reflect more pressing practical priorities, such as looking after a busy family or working within financial constraints.
All of these factors can often be reflected in the clothes we choose to wear. Whether we like it or not, women often put a lot of pressure on themselves and how they present themselves to the world. Clothing is often a vehicle used to reflect how good we feel about ourselves. It is also used negatively to remind us of what we wish to change. I’m not sure how we overcome these pressures, but I hope that through a process of noticing and naming we recognise the power we can project on our clothing to define and reflect our state of mind.