What do I wear when my favorite clothes no longer seem like "me"?
Hello! Welcome to the Tuesday post. If you’re not a subscriber but want to be, there’s a button to sign up below. You can become a paying subscriber (which will grant you access to our group chats on Geneva and more in-depth writing including the franchise The Breakdown) or you can sign up for free to receive the Tuesday post — mostly about how to get dressed. I’m also including a new mini-feature at the bottom, which will highlight A Thing of Note.
Do you ever find yourself “aging out” of clothing you used to love, or perhaps still love but don’t feel like wearing with the same thrill that used to possess you?
I think this question, which my friend recently asked, is what’s provoked so much of my thinking out loud on alternatives to denim cut-offs or different ways to wear them “without feeling like a teenager,” which was probably, actually, my way of saying, without feeling like I’m growing apart from a garment I’ve known as a wardrobe essential for as long as I’ve had personal style.
There is a sort of security that comes with knowing what you like. It feels like unfurrowing your brow, and that is very relieving.
It’s like this because knowing your preferences is one less thing to wrap your head around in a day, one less stone you’re inclined to turn. When you go to your closet and know what to put on, it’s like even if you’re naked, you’re outfitted in the wisdom of self-knowing. And that particular kind of wisdom, which extends far beyond understanding what you want to wear, is special because it gives you confidence, and confidence feels so good.
But as we change, so do our preferences and that can seem, to be dramatic, like the sky’s falling down. Because changing is also kind of like enduring these tiny deaths. You were sure you loved something and for a long time you did, but now you’re not sure if that’s true anymore. Or you still love the thing, but something about it or you just doesn’t match up how it used to.
This process can shake our confidence, which feels like an emotional concussion. And I can’t speak for you, obviously, but it takes me a minute to re-erect my own posture after the death of that former security.
It’s the hardest while it’s still dying -- that’s really when the confidence plummets. I thought that [insert garment style here] was the central point of my style, but I’m finding, lately, that it’s not, I might think.What do I really know about myself?
They should tell us not to wed an opinion without a prenup. Because if you change your mind, which inevitably we do, it sets you up to lose everything, or be stuck with the unchanged forever.
So, what’s one to do when they find themselves growing apart from the clothes they once loved?
Accept the circumstance. Here is this thing I used to love, that I thought could define me but no longer does.
Sit shiva for the old belief — reflect on the good times you had! Harp on what you loved.
Examine and ask: what made me wear you as often as I did? What qualities were so attractive? How did you become wallpaper on my skin?
And what made the relationship change, how did the sheen of the garment start to wear off? What changed about me, about the stuff around me?
Get up and plot: Take what was harvested while sitting shiva and begin to imagine a future without.
My example is faulty because I still wear jean shorts (am wearing jean shorts right now), they’re just not the silver-bullet-solution they used to be. And in thinking about what made them a bullet:
Dependability: There’s a stylish practicality about them and that makes them dependable
Multifariousness: They can be worn as so many things — thrown on haphazardly and still feel good or worn slowly and thoughtfully, as if methodically seasoned to tell a more complicated story
Neutrality: They’re good dressed down indiscriminately and good dressed up unconventionally
And also why the sheen was wearing off:
Changing style interests: Lately, I have been wearing more tank tops and tube tops and prefer how they look with pants and mid-length skirts
Changing personal behavior: I’m generally less interested in wearing shorts as a mainstay of my style. Maybe a function of getting older, or having kids, maybe just because.
I uncovered enough information to direct me towards a viable substitute that took shape as casual pants. Not quite sweatpants, but not trousers either — the place in between where elastic waistbands and drawstrings and wide legs or straight legs meet in different ways.
I should also mention that creating these substitutes is as simple as reconsidering what role the clothes that exist in your wardrobe play. No need to throw out, or to buy new, just wiggle some shit around, you know?
Email if you need help.
This Week’s Thing of Note:
Anja Tyson’s Substack, Present Tense.
Who is she? A consultant in business development, and covers the topics of sustainability, culture, and impact within the fashion and beauty industries.
Why’s the Substack a Thing of Note? She writes clearly and sharply and personably, asking questions of herself and the readers, which seem, in my view, to better equip us all to confront with compassion and less fear the uncomfortable paradox of our own complicated (but in my case ultimately affectionate) relationships with fashion and style and the former’s role in the climate system. (A good contextual primer for all of this too, is Maxine Bedat’s Unraveled, which I’m about halfway through.)
Reading it reminds me of the difference between fashion and style and has started to help me inform how I want to approach this newsletter as one that offers advice based on the emotional and psychological mechanisms that motivate our getting dressed, sinking deeper into the limitations and liberations of self-expression through dress.
“Sustainability as Culture” was the most recent dispatch deployed from Present Tense, it’s a relatively short and very clear read. You can see it here.
Okay, thanks for coming, signing off yours truly,