I’m dreaming of outfits these days. When I’m lying in bed at night. Or drifting off to sleep for an afternoon nap. Or lazing in a deck chair. I’ll put my book down, watch a boat go by on the river, and imagine what I’ll wear when I can stand to wear normal clothes again.
|What I wore on my last day of freedom.
All these outfit reveries are by way of staving off cabin fever. I’ve hardly been out of the dooryard (as we say down east) for three weeks, ever since I developed shingles
. Okay, there was
that one evening when I ventured out for dinner with two friends at a bistro in our little village. Hubby drove me, since driving and shifting (my car is a standard) are painful. But sitting on a patio and eating and chatting I can do. Or thought I could do. I felt good all evening. But I paid for it the next day.
Then there was the morning last week when Hubby drove me to the doctor, and our bumpy road, which hasn’t been paved since the millennium, almost did me in. I’m not joking; jostling is not a trifling thing for serious shingles sufferers. Still, I was able to acquire some serious pain meds that day, which is why I’m doing a lot of drifting and dreaming lately. I should say more drifting and dreaming than usual. As a child, I was frequently accused of walking around in a fog.
But fogs can be good. Restful. Good for dreaming about clothes. I’ve always retreated to my closet when I’ve needed solace. Not literally retreated. I don’t mean I’ve spent hours on the floor of my cupboard curled into a foetal position. Just in my mind. Mentally running my hand across the sleeves of jackets, feeling the textures of suede, and tweed, and stiff denim, ruffling through the shirts and blouses, conjuring up combinations.
|If it’s still hot when I get back on the road, I’ll wear my linen dress.
I remember how helpful outfit dreaming was years ago when I ditched my job in pharmaceutical sales and retreated home to the farm for a while, to lick my wounds, and retool, so to speak. My sabbatical year, my friends used to call it. As I worked the final stressful weeks of my sales job, and packed up my apartment, I’d have moments when I feared I was making a huge mistake. So I’d conjure up a picture of myself on a sunny autumn day, in jeans, and a burgundy mohair sweater that I loved, and my step-father’s rubber boots, striding across the pasture, weighed down on one side by a big pail of apples I’d just picked. I’d picture this and my shoulders would drop a little, and I’d smile.
And in the first few months back home, in bed at night, I’d sometimes be overwhelmed with fear that I’d miscalculated, made a blundering U-turn, and was going totally the wrong way in life. And I’d lie there and focus on the marvelous suede skirt suit hanging in my closet. Bought with one of my first pay cheques when I worked in sales, it was a gorgeous toffee colour, and soft, like whipped butter, with a long full skirt and a short fitted jacket. It looked wonderful with boots and a cream sweater. I paid way more for it than I could afford. But those nights when I worried that I’d never find a teaching job, that I’d failed at adult life, thinking of it hanging in my closet was comforting. I knew I could put it on, do my hair and make-up, and feel like a million bucks. Even if I was back in my old room at home, at the advanced age of 27, having failed to get the hang of adult life. Ha. And funnily enough, when I finally moved back to Ottawa, that suit became a staple in my teaching wardrobe. I still have it tucked away; I can’t bear to part with it. To me it’s a symbol of that U-turn I took in life, and how well things worked out in the end.
So this summer when I’m in need of a little cheering up, I’ve been dreaming of outfits. I’ve been imagining outings and what I’ll wear, when I can get out of baggy tees and pyjama bottoms and back into my real clothes.
I’m dying to wear my refurbished Max Mara suit, with my sleeveless linen tank from Vince, and sneakers, and maybe my red cross-body bag. I could wear this to lunch with a friend at one of my favourite restaurants. Or maybe for afternoon tea at the Château Laurier. If the suit looks a bit corporate, even with sneakers, I could try to blend in with all the working types, carry my red leather journal and pretend it’s a day-timer, try to look as if I’ve somehow managed to carve out a couple of hours from my very busy day to have lunch with a friend. Maybe even order a pre-lunch martini to look more sophisticated. Ha. Maybe not. I hate martinis.
|I’ll wear this to lunch or afternoon tea.
Or maybe Hubby and I could head away from the city. And spend an afternoon browsing the antique shops in historic Merrickville. We haven’t done that in ages. Maybe on a Friday afternoon, and then we could join a couple of friends for a casual dinner, in nearby Kemptville, at the South Branch Bistro where they have live music in the evenings. I’ll wear my new Moncler baseball jacket and my red loafers. But not with my Zara message tee and white jeans. I’ll swap out the crisp white tee for the Vince sleeveless one, and change the white jeans for my dark denim high-waisted Paige jeans. And do a half-tuck with the tee. All my purses look silly with this jacket, but a knapsack, hmmm, maybe a knapsack would be good. And since I don’t own a knapsack, except for the huge packs we take canoeing, I’ll have to dream up a lovely red or navy one.
|I might find a suitable knapsack on-line. Not like I don’t have the time to on-line shop.
And since I’m only dreaming, I’ll try to magic up some weather more suitable for jeans and loafers and suits. It’s still very hot and humid here. But I’m thinking sunny, and 22° C, with no humidity would be perfect weather for my escape from the dooryard.
You know, I read a sweet post on Man Repeller a few weeks ago, on what writer Haley Nahman calls “therapy clothes.” Clothes that she says make her feel happy and like her best self.
Yep. I get that, Haley. I think I’ve felt that way about clothes my whole life. Certain outfits have the power to make me feel like me, but more so. I slip them on, and sigh, and think,”Yes, this is the real me. The best me.”
And all my life, when I’ve felt diminished by events, or afraid, or down in the dumps, just thinking about those outfits makes me smile, and feel a bit better. Clothes as therapy. Or in my case dreaming of clothes as therapy.
That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? How we’ve imbued clothes with so much power.
Okay… maybe not we… maybe it’s just me. And Haley.
I won’t be wearing any of my therapy clothes for a while. Not until this shingles thing dissipates, and I can stand to wear them.
Until then, I’ll settle for dreaming, and wearing soft, baggy tees and pyjama bottoms that, while they don’t make me feel confident, sure do feel good.
How about you, my friends. Do you imbue clothes with as much power as I do? Any outfit dreams you’d like to share?