In the last month I celebrated my birthday, rushed my husband to the hospital and buried my father. Oh, and got a new dog. Whether I was blowing out birthday candles, sitting in the emergency room or giving a eulogy, I needed to get dressed. The only ones that wouldn’t notice if I wore clothes or not were the dogs.
“Somehow nice clothing is an optimistic anchor to the beauty of this life,” my friend Sandra said to me not long after she lost her husband to cancer. I liked this comment so much I put on page 8 of my book Growing More Beautiful.
Comfort, support, ease — in times of stress we look for our clothes to provide us with all of these things. Always sensitive to what I wear, in the past month I’ve been acutely aware of the nurturing aspect of getting dressed. Normally when choosing an outfit I think of the weather, what I’ll be doing, and what color I am in the mood for. Lately I’ve been asking myself “If you could wear anything at all, regardless of what is in your closet, what would it be?”
This question has yielded surprising answers, and put me in touch with a new way to style my clothes. It is so easy to fall into the familiar patterns of “what goes with what.” Most days having pre-styled outfits is a time saving necessity. But these days efficiency is not my top priority.
The last time I asked myself “what do I feel like wearing?” the vision that surfaced was of a dress with a tight bodice and full skirt. “Okay,” I thought, “I have a summer dress like that.” When I pulled it from my closet the bright colors sent a wave of something akin to nausea through me. I thought of a different full skirt I own, and when I saw the cloud-like slate grey and navy pattern of the fabric my body thrummed with pleasure. The day before I had watercolored these same moody colors in my journal. The next morning as I got ready for work I asked myself the same question. The answer was “slim black pants and a dressy blouse.” Although the idea didn’t appeal to me, I tried on a coordinating ensemble. The pants felt too hot and confining for summer so I substituted a comfy black cotton skirt and added a cool silk tank in deep magenta. As soon as I put it on I knew it was the rich silk that I was craving.
This type of freewheeling experimentation has yielded lots of new combinations. Often we don’t even remember all of the treasures in our closets, or we have reasons why we wear (or don’t wear) this or that. Try this method and let me know what you think.
With my new collie and many great friends and clients, life has not been all moody skirts and sad days. I took my musician friend Pamela Joyce shopping for a bathing suit. Here is what she said about the experience on Facebook:
“So let me tell ya, girls: Bathing suit shopping ranks right up there with well, you know, honestly — a colonoscopy! Having Jennifer’s great eye for style and color and her wit and honesty made this once in a decade shopping experience actually fun! I love my new suit! Bring on the umbrella drinks!!”
Jeans can be a drag to shop for, but while we were on a roll we hit Madewell in Corte Madera and PJ got her first pair of skinnies! Watch her rock them onstage when she plays in her bands the Foxes in the Henhouse or D’Bunchovus.
PJ and I had a lot of laughs that day. In fact, the saleswomen in the swimwear department at Nordstrom said they had never heard so much laughter in their department; usually women are crying! We got the good times rolling with the magical spray, Naked, newly released from Jane Bell Essences. The bottle describes the spray by saying: “Naked liberates your self-radiance so you can express yourself and share your gifts with the world… It is easy to know who you are when you are being yourself.” I sprayed Naked at the closing of my father’s memorial to evoke his joyful memory. Check out her complete line of sprays. I highly recommend them all.
My new dog, Cue, is a five year female show dog washout. Watching her and Lucky work it out is pretty entertaining. Best, and most importantly of all, Jerry is fine! He voted for the orange bikini for PJ. And being the bathing suit expert he should know.