At some point midway through last week, I started to realize that even though I have been defending the act of getting dressed (we launched a hashtag, have hosted multiple conversations on the topic, and my mirror selfies have not waned) I haven’t actually been doing it myself. I have thought that I am doing it, but really, I’m just slapping on cotton or silk sleep shorts or gym shorts and pairing them with dressier blouses or colorful t-shirts and socks. Is that actually getting dressed? I think my having to ask means that, at least to me, it’s not. Obviously, though, it would be helpful if I could say what getting dressed means. So let me think about it for a second.
Okay, I thought about it and ultimately it entails more than the act of putting on clothes. This seems to be what Harling was getting at when we e-mailed about this topic last week. Getting dressed infers a third-party gaze—the onlooking of a stranger who is conjuring opinions about who I am based purely on what I’m wearing. Redefining yourself by changing your clothes daily is thrilling if you’re the kind of person who likes to spice shit up without actually spicing it up. It’s a way to change without actually changing—to envelope all the parts of yourself in fractured moments that illuminate these fragments separately, no one more important than the other. They’re just different.
And I definitely haven’t been doing that. Partially because I haven’t felt the need—who would I be illuminating these parts for? The tenants who sublet my body for 9 months from late 2017 to early 2018? They know me inside out! Literally! My partner of 10 years? Him too.
[20 minutes later]: When I first wrote the above before sojourning to the kitchen, I specifically omitted myself from the above group because it seemed redundant but maybe it’s not. Maybe it would be helpful to remind myself—or to ask you to consider reminding yourself—of the different roles we get to play, activated by the different people and situations we encounter in life outside of quarantine. Or maybe this is all dumb as hell and you just want to carry on. I can’t tell if I’m losing it or gaining it but here are three outfit ideas in case you want some inspo, to make fun of me or simply for if you are curious enough to feel the sensation of a zip fly waistline pressing up against your stomach—which leads me to:
Exhibit A, for the minimalist who likes a flare sleeve
I put on jeans last Saturday and kept them on for about two hours because it made me feel like I was coming from somewhere or about to go out. I did not expect they would give me a jolt of life but was pleasantly surprised to find that whereas I’d been quarreling with myself over whether jeans are in fact style nirvana or actually the latest garment to out themselves as oppressive, it seems they might be a combination of both. Anyway, I highly recommend it, if only on the weekend when you’re in pursuit of an excuse to “get ready.”
Exhibit B, for the maximalist at heart
I wore this to my Passover seder last Wednesday, which was conducted on Zoom with my side of the Medine-Cohen family. Worthy of note is that if Exhibit A illuminates the more streamlined, down-to-business part of me that still deplores an ironed out wrinkle, Exhibit B is more like a return home to the extent that it probably presents pretty chaotic, even though I did put some thought into it. I think it just occurred to me that when I tell people, “Only you could pull that off,” what I mean is, “I don’t exactly get it, but it’s clear that you do.”
Exhibit C, for dreaming
Consider this one a prompt: What will you wear on the first day post-quarantine? Be as specific as possible—where are you going, who are you meeting, what are you doing, what is the weather and how do you feel? My answer, illustrated in the image above entails a weekday morning. It’s 78 degrees and sunny. I’m going to the Great Lawn in Central Park to sprawl out on the grass, sin mask, and stare up at the blue sky before I meet two friends (pending my actually retaining any!) for a boat ride. I might lick their faces depending on how far we’ve come and will definitely be carrying a bag of food with freshly prepared items by every open restaurant that I pass on my gallop to the park. I intend to stay out until the sun begins to set, at which point I relocate to a sidewalk cafe to order a drink the size of my head. I feel full for the simple reason that by this point, I smell like that perfect, faint mixture of summer body sweat and outside. Do you remember the one? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.