Day 13 of the 30 days, 30 words challenge, and we are talking about clothes. Which is great, because I happen to love clothes.
fab·ric \ˈfabrik\ n. [MF fabrique, fr. L fabrica workshop, structure] 1 : STRUCTURE, FRAMEWORK <the ~ of society> 2 : CLOTH; also: a material that resembles cloth.
Every seam sewn tells a story. It is the story of hands pulling fabric tight and moving folds slowly forward. These fingers threading needles. These fingers pricked by accident. These hands undulating like waves, pushing fabric through. Every pattern echoes with the mind who imagined it–where to tuck and pin, where to leave holes for buttons, where to allow extra room. The pattern was made by Simplicity on thin white paper or it was made out of newsprint, a mother holding the black and gray paper against her children’s backs. A tailor drew white highway lines with chalk where the seams should be. A milliner measured the circumference of someone’s head for a new fedora.
Every garment has a history. The satin baby blanket in our crib, the ruffles on cotton Easter dresses, the little seersucker shorts, the Fun Run t-shirts, the pressed linen pants, the silk necktie, the itchy wool uniform skirt, the polyester gym shorts, the pantyhose, the green velvet sweet sixteen dress, the first pair of jeans we bought with our own money. These garments tell us the stories of who we were, who we thought we were, who we are, who we think we are, who we are–constantly in the state of–becoming. Thrift stores racks teem with records of intimate moments: first kisses, first little league games, dance recitals, costume parties, first dates, too many proms to count, weddings, divorces, first steps and last ones. Moments remembered or forgotten. Moments we wish we could remember or wish we could forget.
Every wardrobe is in a state of flux. Clothing passes in and our of our closet. We exchange with friends, we shop and trade the old for the new, we donate to Goodwill. Our closets track the patterns of our lives. We stack the things we think we might fit into again at the bottom. We tuck that item that looked so great on us at the store, but not so great on us here, at the back. We shift and rearrange as we move in the things that are us and move out the things that no longer meet that criteria. During spring cleaning, we find the sweater of an old lover and sit on the bed for a moment before we, inevitably, hold it up to our nose. Then, we see the shirt our mother gave us for Christmas one year, so thoughtful, so not our color. Or we find the shirt from that time she got it right. Either way, we miss her. Sometimes, we wait until our favorite t-shirt is completely threadbare to throw it away, and even then, the act feels like a sort of betrayal. We need more hangers and then we need less. We have the clothes we may wear, the clothes we want to wear, and then the clothes we do wear. We allow ourselves categories: comfort, casual, exercise, work, dressy. These pieces create a framework for our days.
Every morning begins with a question. Before what will I do today and before what will I accomplish, the first question we ask ourselves in the morning is “what am I going to wear?” We agonize about it or we just throw something on, but no matter how much time it takes, this act is a sort of ceremony. We guess the weather or we step outside to check or we look it up on our phone. We open the door and evaluate. We shift hangers or we remove pants from a stack. We pull out the ironing board or we don’t. We toss the discarded options on our bed or we hang them up right away. We think about what we are doing that day and what will be most practical. We assess and we choose. Then we clothe ourselves in our choices and go about our day.