26 April 2014

what colour am i today?

It's tough, trying to keep life simple.

Yesterday I changed twice before heading out the door. How do you dress for a formal cemetery visit, a home visit to a lovely not-yet-one-year-old, an art exhibition opening and a very casual visit to friends all in the one day, in that order, with no chance to come home between these things? Add to that setting out early in the morning in the mist with clouds, being in the open in bright sunshine, and then ending the day with a not so great weather forecast.

Today as I caught up with washing I tried to evaluate every item and decide whether or not to keep it. I am leaning towards a "uniform" - something that will carry changes simply by adding a jacket or a scarf.

I am, more and more, confident enough to flaunt fashion trends and choose what suits my mood, my comfort, my wardrobe. But I notice that in my wardrobe there is an increasing gap between "special occasion" clothing and every day wear. I do need to toss out, but also to find some middle ground.

Footwear is always a problem. Heels and I just don't go together. Sigh... that probably accounts for my shoe envy as friends strut about in high heels looking stunningly elegant. I wonder if we could ever begin to admire flat heeled shoes? In this country, never. In NZ? No, I fear the worst there too.

Why am I thinking about this now? It is out of character, I agree. Some time ago, September 2009 in fact,  in the wee small hours of a sleepless night I foolishly uploaded as a Facebook profile picture an image of me as "mother of the bride" complete with hat. I took it down rather quickly too. But unknown to me it remained in my folder, and yesterday a friend with time on her hands found the image and commented on it. That evidently brought it to the fore, and by this evening 50 people have clicked "like" on a previously forgotten image.

The FB picture is perhaps flattering, and certainly is a "classic" that still looks OK five years on. But it does beg the question of what we wear, what we keep, what we throw away or give away. I still have the outfit, including the hat. I have worn parts of it several times. But should it still be in my wardrobe, with no more events to wear it to in the near future?

When going to formal commemorative events I now have what I call my "uniform", serious in black. Perhaps I could design more parts to my present "uniform" so I don't need to think about what to wear at all. I am torn, torn between simplicity which demands a restricted colour range, and the urge to wear bright colours in this country which favours black on every formal or celebratory occasion.

Back to black for basics? No, in the summer I like to dress in light, bright, white.

Today I wore bright orange, for my Dutch friends. It was the day of the King in Holland. Occasionally I shall wear green, for my late mother-in-law. And blue, for my own mother, and red for my grandmother because it was scandalous when I was a teenager and she gave me red nail polish when I was ten. Black? No, it's not in my life, but already too much in my wardrobe.

Some time ago I challenged myself to reduce the number of items I owned and especially the number in my wardrobe. I culled out an embarrassingly large number, but still want to cull more. As spring comes and goes, pulling summer and winter alternatively with her, I have plenty of opportunities to consider what I am wearing, and what I have here.

What shall I do? I think it is time. I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn't go. Jenny Joseph said it so well:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in the slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
-Jenny Joseph, 1961

Today I am grateful for defiant, colourful and fashion-flaunting "senior" women.

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