Outer Layers

What story do the things you wear tell about you?

The word “bespoke” is used these days to describe tailor-made clothes — those (expensive!) items crafted especially for the person who ordered them. But the word’s origin says something deeper about the relation of clothes and accessories to our identity: what we wear speaks for us. These objects may be inanimate and perishable, but they tell the people around us a story about who we are and how we wish to be seen.

Earlier this month, Cheri spoke with four prominent fashion bloggers on Discover, asking them about the one item in their extensive wardrobes they can’t live without. The answers included a denim jacket, a hand-me-down Rolex watch, and an outback hat. What the replies had in common, though, is an understanding of the ways our fashion choices tap into our memory and our self-image. As fashion scholar and blogger Benjamin Wild put it, discussing his glasses:

Cutting across my face, the frames proclaim my inability to see well, and as an academic I’m conscious of being the stereotypical bibliophilic geek. That is why I invest thought — and it must be said, money — into choosing my spectacles. I suppose I’m turning a weakness — albeit not so bad a weakness in the grand scale of things — into something positive. As somebody who teaches, talks, and writes about the meaning of clothing, my frames make me very aware of the ability of inanimate objects to act as psychological salves.

For this week’s challenge, tell us (in the medium or format of your choice, whether visual, textual, or other) about how your personal style reflects or modifies who you are. Like the bloggers in the Discover feature mentioned above, you can focus on one item that tells a story about you or that you associate with a person you love, a memory you hold dear, or a place you miss. Or take a broader look at the things you wear — from work uniforms and party gear to battered hoodies — and talk about their connection to your identity. What story do the clothes you wear tell about you? What responses do they aim to elicit (or prevent) from others?

I look forward to hearing your stories!

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  1. My current wardrobe looks like a goth’s dream. A sea of Black on Black upon Black.

    It didn’t use to be this way. I was always a pretty colourful and cheery guy with my outfits. Bright clashing colours making me stand out from the crowd!

    Then I got a job in a Theatre. Where you have to wear black. You have to be able to sneak about in the background. Get to places without being spotted. Whether that be moving set pieces or hopping over seats to scold people for tweeting during the overture.

    I can’t shake the black . I left the theatre after 10 years. Being in black is still most comfortable. I still want to move around unnoticed and fade into a crowd on a busy day.

    The black comforts me.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. My outer layers reflect my inner, wandering soul.

    I have wandered through my life with no particular plan, swayed by whatever seemed interesting at the time. Or tagged along with someone who was going somewhere – anywhere – I didn’t really care, as long as I was moving.

    I’ve branded my life ‘the gypsy approach’ and I’ve dressed accordingly. Not in a conscious way; I just seemed to gravitate to the carefree colours that appealed to me at the time. And with reckless abandon I could adorn the colours of the rainbow, in a single outfit – none of which matched anything else at the time.

    Easy for me – hard on anyone who had to view me from the other side. My best friend would hold her breath until I arrived at her door, wondering what outlandish mis-match of colours I’d turn up in for an event the average person would at least try to colour-coordinate for. I didn’t care.

    And I didn’t care too much about protocols either. I could spontaneously just pack up and move house; from across town – to across the world. Not exactly reassuring for anyone in my life who was ruled by consistency.

    But, I have to admit, the administration role I had in the later years of my career reined me in a bit – on weekdays – but let me loose again on weekends. Now that I’ve retired, every day is Saturday, and the spontaneity of my life that played out in the outer layers of my attire is back.

    The gypsy in me is alive and well.

    Liked by 9 people

  3. Being a teenager is hard, with the way styles change week to week. My wardrobe extends from tacky class T shirts to Italian leather jackets with a little bit of everything in between. Recently it has been hair up in a scrunchy (yes, they’re coming back, sigh) with leggings, whatever t shirt I find on the ground in a shuffle to leave in time for class, and my birkenstocks of course. Day by day my looks differs and I normally get referred to as a “hipster”. Thanks to my friends, I’m the out casted one that shops at American eagle and any hippie shop within a 50 mile radius. If I could not live without one item in my closet, it would be my Birkenstocks, or my white nike hat. I also cherish my baggy mom jeans that are totally in right now, thank you American eagle, who refers to them as “tomgirl” jeans. Dress them up or dress them down, they’re perfect for any occasion. As for accessories, the less and more simple, the better. Focus on the hair and make up. It will make or break your look.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I tend to wear thrift clothes.. So nothing specific comes to mind. I love the thought of a good hand me down, as it is being passed on to be enjoyed by another individual. Whether it is a nice pare of lulu’s, or a ratty band t shirt, I take pride in my thrift finds!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This.
    I make super funky clothing for super funky people and I just really dig what you’re saying here. Clothing is artwork we wear on our bodies, like our tabards, the things we use to fly our personal flags.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Because Zimbabwe is a conservative society, and because I recently got a part time job working at a primary school. I find myself trying to pick out a “ladylike, conservative, children friendly outfit” When you start to work at a school they tell you to lead by example, and to dress respectably. This usually means no short skirts or dresses, no tight trousers. As if people in long dresses and loosely fitting slacks are instantly respectable or a good example for children to follow. I never thought about this till I read your blog. Thank you! Feel free to pop by my blog

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Where I come from, there is a mystical inanimate object that many men choose to wear these days. It is becoming increasingly fashionable. It has the ability to define the wearer and raise their social status on the spot, no matter what their educational or social background. And when used with certain genre of rhetoric, it empowers the wearers with immediate effect. You put it one and all mouths in your presence become alert ears. All sharp tongues lose the ability to cut into the air.

    This garment is cheap and is made from 100% naturally organic material. Synthetics are only in its meaning. It has to be unruly and untamed. If tamed it loses its power of identifying one with a specific group of a higher calibre.

    It is put on with ease but removed only by force.
    Have you guessed what it is?

    All the best,
    The Libyan Hend

    Please visit my blog for poetry and upcoming contextual observations 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. True enough. I will quote my mother’s saying. When I was a kid my mom always told us that we need to have clean clothes and clean shoes because the way we dress is the mirror of who we are. It will reflect our personality.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I seem to be drawn to a particular colour each day, and it generally sets the tone for my day ahead. I used to be black/red and maybe the odd dash of white. I find as I have become comfier with myself, and my body, and happier with my life, and my taste for adventure, so has my taste for colour. I love how different colours affect your moods. On days that I need a confidence boost, or have a big presentation coming up, I reach for my favourite red dress or black and my red shoes, they just make me feel ” quirky”, bold and that if I can walk around comfortably in blood-red shoes all day, I can tackle anything! I like to be smart, but casual, and keep a little touch of my artistic flair in everything I wear, even if the clothing is plain, I will spruce it up with a little focal piece in the form of a bold or fascinating necklace. I do not follow trends, I dress to suite my own individual character and personality. I will not dress a certain way, because society said so.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Well I enjoy Ankara and Sneakers.There’s nothing as comfortable as converse shoes or Adidas shoes on.. This is what defines me. SIMPLICITY! Plus am already 5’7 tall and I find heel a lot of work. My phone fell down and broke yesterday, all my photos have disappeared. Pardon me for expressing this challenge without my real photos, but hey, right now I love ankara and sneakers. You get the point. Here’s the link; https://myverytrendy.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/right-now-i-love-ankara-and-sneakers/

    Liked by 3 people

  11. My ideal is classic. In a perfect world, I’d still have the hourglass figure of my pre-midlife years upon which I’d adorn power suits (classically tailored skirt and jacket of highest quality fabrics) paired with a blouse, and quality leather pumps, in coordinating colors. My jewelry would be fairly classic but of expensive quality, and my cosmetics the same.
    From the time I had any control over my wardrobe I’ve chosen this style. In school when my schoolmates adorned their bodies in trendy jeans or other current fashion items, I stepped off the school bus wearing dress slacks, (or skirts) blouses and high heels, with everything color coordinated. On days I did choose denim my jeans were fitted, crisp and full of color. To this day, well-worn jeans are donated or used for painting and yard work.
    On a daily basis I no longer dress for the office as, for the past twelve years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom of a special needs child; the past three years have included day care for my grandchild, as well.
    Thus it is I sometimes look at my closet full of beautiful clothes and wonder why I still possess them when I so infrequently wear them. Periodically I sort through and pluck out items I’m willing to part with to donate to charitable organizations that provide clothing to women in need who are entering the workforce.
    One of my goals for this week is to do more of this sorting and donating.
    But for church attendance and going out with my spouse, I dress up; I love it and I feel good doing so. I may be older, and a bit fuller about the middle than what I’d like, but in my heart I’m still classic and classy and I love to express this in the way I dress.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One detail I forgot to mention in my “blog” comment, is that almost every item of clothing and shoes I own was purchased either second hand or off a clearance rack or other mark down, or home sewn. Most of my life, up until very recent years, I’ve been of the lower income to indigent income range, and this is especially true of my youth. I’ve often joked I have champagne taste on a beer budget. However, people couldn’t know it by the way I’ve dressed; I shop carefully, I’ve honed my sewing skills and I’m fussy about the care of my clothing. One day in high school, a group of friends were complimenting me on my outfit. I laughed at their amazement over my confession the only items I wore that were purchased new was my underwear. I then proudly detailed the amazing bargains of each of the rest of my items. Garage sale, thrift shopping and home sewing are not a matter of shame for me, but instead are a quest to find the best of bargains, or the diamonds amongst the rocks (as the expression goes).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. According to me…person wear clothes according to the level of income they earn…one more question arises over here…and that is…whether that person is able to maintain his/her standard of living or not…we judge a person by their clothes and accessories..thats not enough…poor people don’t even have that…atleast we have something to cover our body…they don’t even have that…my wardrobe has simple nd regular clothes…and I am happy with that!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree. I would love to dress more stylish and wear matching shoes with cute tops. Alas, i live on a thrift store budget, and somtimes i find cute clothes yet i still gravitate to jeans and comfy tshirts with my cowgirl boots, my horse loves my style no matter what.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. First of all, loved this post!
    Secondly, I am a kind of person whose tastes keep evolving. As a result, my wardrobe has changed a lot over the years and sometimes when I look back at my outfits from two or three years ago, I can hardly believe that it was actually me who bought them! However, no matter what I wear, I always make it a point to stay true to myself. The reason why I may not like a top which I liked two years ago is because I, as a person, changed over time and I realised that those clothes don’t represent me anymore. The most important thing for me while shopping for clothes is to make sure that I’ll feel comfortable while wearing them. If I’m not comfortable, I won’t be able to be me and that’s something I dread. My latest collection includes mostly blues-different shades of blue, but blue nonetheless. I feel that blue is a very calming colour and somehow, keeping that colour around myself relaxes me. When I’m not wearing blue, my outfits are a riot of colours which are really loud and eye-catching, mainly because my personality is really loud and I’m generally an outspoken person. Fun fact : This earned me a nickname from my friends- The Neon Loudspeaker! So yeah, that’s it 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

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