Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Who shall I be today?
If you are anything like me, the answer will be lots of things, often far too many things to deal with in a morning. Particularly if that morning happens to be a Monday.
What will the weather do today? (Winter coat or maxi dress and suncream?) How far am I walking today? (Walking boots or stilletoes?) How much do I need to carry with me today? (Suitcase, rucksack, handbag or no bag?) What am I doing today? (If I plan on visiting a farm wellies might be appropriate, if I am off to a party, perhaps not so.) Who will I see today? (Will I see the friend who saw me in this same dress yesterday? Will they think I don't wash? Am I off to visit my grandparents or is there a chance of me bumping into an ex? Adjust skirt length and cleavage accordingly.)
Finally comes the most difficult question. The million dollar question that often ends up with a mountain of discarded clothes on my bed as I rush out the house, late, wearing the first outfit I put on.
Who do I want to be today?
This is where I get stuck. Do I want to be Libby the Student, Libby the Fashion Journalism Student, Libby the Writer, Libby the Pink-Lover, Libby the Baker or Libby the Aspiring Blue Peter Presenter? Do I want to look quirky or sophisticated, fun or hard-working, feisty or approachable, country girl or city chick, girly or serious? The trouble is that I want to look like all of these things, all at the same time. But this might involve wearing quite a lot of clothes.
I was doing some research today for my university dissertation, when I stumbled across something that hit the nail on the head (not something that happens often when wading through swamps of academic stodge).
" When I rummage through my wardrobe in the morning I am not merely faced with a choice of what to wear. I am faced with a choice of images: the difference between a smart suit and a pair of overalls, a leather skirt and a cotton dress, is not just one of the fabric and style, but one of identity. You know perfectly well that you will be seen differently for the whole day, depending on what you put on; you will appear as a particular kind of woman with one particular identity which excludes the others. The black leather skirt rules out girlish innocence, oily overalls tend to exclude sophistication, ditto smart suit and radical feminism. Often I have wished I could put them all on together, or appear simultaneously in every possible outfit, just to say, How dare you think any one of these is me. But also, See, I can be all of them.” Judith Williamson: Consuming Passions, The Dynamics of Popular Culture
Despite the moments when I think it might be simpler to either wear no clothes at all (socially and thermologically awkward) or instead to wear every item in my wardrobe, there are really only so many clothes that you can wear at one time.
But just because I'm wearing this pink skirt covered in polka dots, that doesn't mean I'm not serious. Just because I'm wearing this plain grey dress, that doesn't mean I'm not fun.
So next time I look into my wardrobe as if it's a mirror and ask myself 'who shall I be today?', if the answer that comes to me is a jumper covered in love hearts, I shall put it on with pride, and with one hell of a sexy pair of underwear underneath. Sexy and cutesy librarian? 20 year old with a five-year old inside? Why not.
Even if you can't see, I can be all of them.