Change your clothes, change your life: because you can’t go naked I was brought up to believe that caring about clothes was the mark of a frivolous and light-minded person. I recall that my sister once said something that suggested an interest in fashion and my mother said, “I can’t believe that a daughter of mine is such a clotheshorse.” She could have said it in an admiring tone that acknowledged her own lack of chic, but she said it scornfully.
Brescia says that clothes are communication. Whatever you wear is a statement. You have to wear something, so you should wear things that communicate what you want to communicate. You see a middle aged guy standing in line at the bank wearing jeans, he says, and within seconds you’ve decided the kind of work he does, his income, his level of education, his political views and a bunch of stuff about his character and habits. Others do the same for you.
And then he talks about the phenomenon of making an effort… sometimes. If you’re not expecting an important meeting or planning for a social event where you want to look your best, you don’t make any effort to communicate your best self or even your true self. Why prepare, he asks, for a day when nothing happens? Is that really the kind of day you want? Instead, you should prepare for a day when you meet your next big adventure.
One of his biggest goals for this book, he says, “is to get you to question the assumption that there are certain days on which you should try to look great, and other days on which it doesn’t matter.”
I’m not sure I have the option of looking great, but I am trying to have the right attitude. #1 daughter, who is one of those women who always looks great, showed up for a meeting with frizzy hair, destroyed jeans, minimal makeup, and a striped T. It made me worry about her. Not because she didn’t look great, but because she didn’t look like herself. She informed me that looking like herself takes her a couple of hours. I probably can’t or won’t do that. But I don’t want people to worry about me because I’m dressed for a day at the computer, not a day with humans.
So, having embraced his thinking on the subject, I’m going on to the specific changes Brescia suggests.
Oh — I also made a change in my morning routine. I’m doing pretty well with my morning and evening routines, and I made one simple tweak: I make a cup of tea at the end of my morning routine and put on makeup while it steeps. That one thing has caused me to get my face painted every day.
Brescia’s first suggestion: strive for harmony. When we see an outfit in which the pieces don’t go together, he says, “our eyes and our brains register both the outfit and the owner as visual noise.”
Lately, I’m wearing jeans or — for meetings — my Elle pants or the single pair of tailored trousers I bought for my interim wardrobe. Vine has been sending me lots of capri pants, but I believe that they make a woman look short and stocky or at least undiginified, so I wear them when I’m not planning to leave the house. Having covered my bottom, I pick a shirt. I have three bright linen camp shirts and two bright silk ones, and mostly I just pick one of those. If I have a meeting, I’ll add a jacket. I’m dressed. Is that harmonious? I guess I’ll find out. Brescia says to spend a lot more time looking in the mirror.