Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poor guru: How to dress up from down.

It's been really cold recently, so for the most part I've just been wearing trousers, boots, and jacket, with layered shirts and jumpers. There's nothing wrong with everyday casual dressing, but whenever I wear something a bit more speccy I realise how much it affects my mood. And it's not just about feeling confident because you look hot -- while that's pleasing in its own way, there are some things I love to wear that I know don't particularly suit my body shape and colouring, but I'd rather be awesome than sexy. That is to say: Any opportunity to stride out with top hat and cane should be taken by the horns.

I like to dress somewhat thematically, if not in outright costumes. If I'm feeling anti-social, the only thing that can get me out of the house is going undercover in two hoodies, cotton drill pants and docs -- when I first discovered this outfit, I wouldn't even be recognised at uni if I kept the hood up. (Unfortunately, I've been feeling anti-social often enough that this has sort of become my uniform.) Or if I want a quick fix pick me up, I wear brightly coloured hose and novelty earrings -- red dice or silver spinning whales. Sometimes the attempt at sartorial therapy can fail, as in recent times my leaving-the-house ritual has become so complex as to aid my mild agoraphobia.

But for the most part, dressing up means feeling better. So here comes my first crap advice column:

How to ... dress up from down.

(The title is a piss-take of the "Getting Up From Down", a series of depression workshops the university counselling service was running.)

Often I roll out of bed in a funk, or more likely hide under the doonah hoping the day will go away. And I think about what I need to do that day, which generally fills me with dread and totally irrational anxiety. I can while away hours lying in bed tying my mind in knots. Mental paralysis is my superpower (my superpowers are pretty much all neuroses, yeah). One of my more common methods is wondering what I'll wear, because after taking into consideration availability, weather, and social and practical requirements, I'll manage to convince myself that I can't get out of bed because I don't have a knee-length skirt with pockets, as I can't dance in trousers and if I don't have pockets I can't cloak my bag and I can't wear my waistcoat because that's too much of a dyke cliche, etc etc. Like I said, it's a superpower.

So here's what I've learned about managing to leave the house with a bounce in your step, with only prescription drugs, half a cup of coffee and fifteen minutes of vanity.
  • don't default to something dull because it's cold or wet or you're running late -- think up a bunch of awesome ensembles for any situation so you can throw on a zombie bride outfit as quickly as any jeans and tee combo
  • play around with new items when you get them, so you're not working out how to incorporate them into your wardrobe half an hour after you were supposed to leave the house -- even the simplest things are worth experimenting with so you know the shape, length and colour well enough to match it in your head without involving your body -- also, blacks don't all match!
  • organise accessories so you can easily embellish -- scarf, hose and bangles make a plain skirt + shirt combo into an outfit
  • scarves are a godsend for bad hair (tie in a triangle, turban or wide headband), boring short hair (thin headband knotted with bow or loose ends) , not enough colour (all the obvious ways, as a belt, as a bracelet, even tied to your bag) and overly structured outfits (tie in pussy bow over a collared shirt). they create vertical lines and cover too much d├ęcolletage or a mess of mismatched necklines (i always have this problem with mid-winter layering!).
  • shoes make a bucketload of difference -- hard soles make me tap-click away in self-conscious delight, heels force me to walk more deliberately, and steel-capped boots make me feel fucking invincible (and a little bit violent)
  • if you've fallen in a rut, break the pattern drastically -- go out in full drag, whatever that's become for you
  • leave the house without a bag whenever you can
  • things that make me feel instantly awesome: walking length umbrellas (mine is patterned with red and gold wattle), suspenders (holding up either trousers or stockings), knee high boots, corset, tie, pearls.
  • clothes should be fun to wear as well as comfortable and comforting -- even if you're just going to the supermarket, there's no reason not to roll out a frock covered in pink polka dots and punk it up with boots and rockstar sunnies -- in fact, all the more reason to play if you're going to be doing something dreary like grocery shopping
  • if all else fails, just wear hot underwear and something that you can rip off in a second so all day you can imagine you are just about to start a torrid affair


Anonymous said...

These are some awesome tips. I notice that my clothing affects my mood straight away and the cold weather even more so. I feel like I can't dress for winter and just go straight to trousers or jeans and I hate that. I just don't feel "me" in them.

Pip said...

AHHHHHHH! I absolutely LOVE your blog!!!!! It's so helpful and everything you post sounds like something I would wear!!!! NNNNNNNNAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! (The feels, man.) Keep posting!!!