If you’re like me, and you work in a business setting, you likely have “work clothes.” You know ’em—they’re your “office appropriate” attire, the not-too-short skirts and the not-too-low blouses, the modest, professional jacket and the sensible heels. As young professional women, these clothes are part of our “work” lives, the ones we wear between the hours of nine and five at an office. We wear ’em, look damed good in ’em, but by the end of the day, we can’t wait to get out of ’em.
Our relationship with these clothes is what you’d call a love/hate relationship; we love the cute pencil skirts and all the jazzy accessories that can add flavor to a suitjacket; we love the identity they allow us to assume, as these outfits are the ones that carry us into our professional lives. We also hate these clothes; they’re often tight and usually made of material that doesn’t breathe; there’s a lot of buttons involved, and the heels—well, sexy as they are, they can leave your feet crying for the hours before eight thirty a.m., when your feet are swaddled and slippered. While “work clothes” may be an important part of our professional lives, we aren’t what we wear at work.
Last night, I took myself on a date. I wore my gladiator sandals and navy jersey skirt. On top, I wore a long flyaway cardigan which falls in waves by my side like my hair frames my face. I ended up sipping red wine at an Italian restaurant on Queen West. “Are you waiting for someone?” the server asked me, gesturing to the empty seat across from me. “No” I smiled back, “just me.” It was obvious that he wasn’t accustomed to lone diners, at least not in the evening. I didn’t mind; I’ve become comfortable dating myself.
As I sat back taking in the summer evening, I felt like myself again for the first time in weeks. I pulled out my pen and notebook—tools that had gone untouched for days—and I started to write. The story seeped out of me like a runny nose; I blame the clothes.
While it’s important to own”work clothes,” you also need clothes in your wardrobe that are all your own. For those nights that you treat yourself to a fancy dinner—with wine, and dessert and espresso to follow. In these clothes, we can be just ourselves.
Now, I should qualify that these clothes—these personal clothes I speak of—must, must be different than the clothes you wear around the house. Sure, we all have alumni hoodies and sweatpants that say “gorgeous” across the rear, but these clothes should not be worn in public. These are your sweats, and though their important, they belong to a different wardrobe category entirely, a category reserved for the times when your sick, or sleeping, or heartbroken. Or for when you’re on your period. If these are the clothes that came to mind when I mentioned “me clothes,” then you’ve got serious issues. Call me a fashionista, but an oversized sweater doesn’t express a lack of care for fashion, it’s expresses a lack of care for yourself. No one is outside the spectacle of fashion, and all the world’s a stage. So why not shine?
Just as our business clothes carry us into the professional world, our personal clothes bring us back to ourselves again. And hopefully, one day, what we love to wear will become what we’re paid to wear. Until then, it’s all about finding a balanced wardrobe that expresses all of your personalities.
And one more thing, ladies: take yourself out on a god damed date. You deserve it. Bring a pen if you’re lonely, and be sure to dress yourself.