Wardrobe Architect 2: Defining a Core Style

This month, we consider what lies at the core of our style. Themes as opposed to plot or events, to use a bookish metaphor. There are a few questions, and then you distill your answers into key words and images. As always, you can download the worksheet (and read the original post & comments) on the Colette site.
Wholesome Milkmaid in 1945 (Phyllis Robins)
How do you feel in your favourite clothes? I think my favourite dress, strangely enough, is one of the plainest: brown, with a faint bleach stain at bench height. But wearing it, I feel capable, adult, set up and ready to go, prepared for everything – practical. (It may help that I like the things I wear with it: my most colourful kerchief and a harmonizing belt.)

How do you feel in not-right clothes? Itchy, uncoordinated (in colour not movement), over-exposed or shapeless; constricted – either in movement or in midsection.

Who are your style icons – what appeals? This is always a difficult one for me, because so seldom do I see anyone who dresses the way I’d like to. Pretty well never, in fact. The closest? Jane Eyre comes to mind, weirdly enough. A small, neat wardrobe, with one or two items reserved for special occasions (but I’d rather not have them all in black or grey!).
The Governess by Richard Redgrave
And then perhaps Andrea Grinberg for headwear, though her wraps are sometimes larger and more elaborate than I would feel me-ish in. Occasional items worn by the Duchess of Cambridge – although mostly eveningwear, as that seems to be the only time fashion permits the longer length I like. Other than that I mostly see things I like in historical and fantasy movies.  (Who’s with me?)

Actually, the 1840s seem to have been a reasonably reasonable time in clothing, compared to many eras: dresses mostly woman-shaped and the skirts not excessively immense. Not keen on the evening drop-shoulder, though: it’s bad for duelling (and most other things you might want to do).

What are some words for styles that aren’t quite you, though you like them?
I’m not sure of the reason behind this question, since “not quite you” isn’t what you really want to be focussing on. I suppose the ladylike suited look of the 1930s appeals, but isn’t quite me. Swashbuckling, Pre-Raphaelite, early medieval… Nice places to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Brown lapin over green woolList about 15 words from last week’s answers.
long, fitted, quality, devotee, nonconformist, Melanesian, modesty, historical, kerchief, freedom [of movement], skirts, pockets, layers, waist, privacy.

Add some from this week’s answers. Neat, plain, capable, practical.

Boil down to 3-5 words.
Neat, historical, practical, quality, devotee.

And then – this is the fun bit – you go looking for 15-20 images that express these words for you. Not just images of clothing, but images generally which sum up the feel you’re looking for. You can do this online or old-school (back when cut and paste actually involved scissors and glue). I prefer old-school, but since we’re online, here’s one of mine in digital format.

Helen Allingham - Drying Clothes
Neat, historical, practical.
What words would you use to evoke your core style?

May: A Sense of Possibility

You cannot dream too big for God, I’ve recently been told.

The fifth chapter in The Artist’s Way is all about daring to dream. And I have most certainly been struggling with this.
There are lists to complete: what would I try if I weren’t too crazy? What would I love to do but aren’t allowed? I wish…

A Birthday Wish

Not surprisingly, the DDJ showed up on a lot of these lists – or rather, the absence of the DDJ, along with reading all day and eating hot Vogels toast with butter. Also a writing room in the shape of a teapot. (I may need to think this one through a little more.)

I had to list twenty wishes, and the further I got the deeper and less specific they became: to be close to God, to live meaningfully, to be loving, to be joyful, to live creatively.

I am happy to be here

And then I had to list five grievances with God. That felt against the grain, but as she says, God can take it. The DDJ cast a long shadow there, too.

Then there was a great deal of image-collecting – images of what I’d do if I were 20 and rich, 65 and rich, could live other lives. This was quite fun, as I’ve mentioned.

Library of knowledge

Julia Cameron asks some rather probing questions about self-sabotage. Too often God offers us something and we demur, thinking if it seems too good to be true, it is – or it’s a trap.

“The question is ‘Are you self-destructive?’ Not ‘Do you appear self-destructive?’ And most definitely not ‘Are you nice to other people?'” (p. 99).
This is an important distinction. Not that being a writer (or any other kind of person) is an excuse for being unkind to others, but that others are responsible for their own lives and you are responsible for yours.

Putting other people’s priorities ahead of your own may make you out a really nice person, but it also means that what is important in your own life is neglected.

Overgrown yard
There is no credit in mowing your neighbour’s lawn if your own is threatening to take over your house.

So, taking responsibility for my own life, I had to list my favourite creative block, my payoff for staying blocked, and the person I blame for being blocked. (Uncomfortable self-scrutinisation, anyone?)

I soon decided my favourite block was tiredness. Then I had to draw a cartoon of myself “indulging in it”. Not being over-endowed with artistic ability, my cartoon was somewhat less elaborate than this:

The payoff was harder to figure out. The payoff for the DDJ is obvious – pay, leading to a roof over my head and food on the table. But what’s the payoff for being tired? Or rather, what’s the payoff for letting tiredness stop me writing?

It isn’t rest, because I find it very hard to rest when I know I should be doing something else. It might be the knowledge that I didn’t fail (because I didn’t try) but it feels like failure anyway.
Perhaps it’s avoiding poor-quality work. Or avoiding that feeling of facing the page and knowing I have nothing to give it. Perhaps it’s just the path of least resistance, inviting pity, framing myself as the victim. (Poor thing. She’s so tired.)

eh. (365.335)

I wasn’t sure who I blamed – could be anyone from me to Capitalism. I don’t know that having someone to blame helps. Well, it might make you feel better (though I doubt it) but it doesn’t help you get out. And out is exactly what I want to get.

I still don’t know what lies before me. Rationally speaking, there is no more cause for hope than there was a month ago, or a month before that. And yet, the flame of hope is kindled in me again. A tiny little wavering blob on the wick of my soul, but there it is.

286/365 - One FlameDon’t nobody breathe.