Clothes that work

When I started this process of rebuilding my wardrobe, what I told myself was that I was building a wardrobe which would become self-sufficient; I tried to buy or accrue pieces which I could imagine pulling out in ten or twenty years, and I wanted to make sure I had the clothes for most eventualities, without leaping back into my default whereby I amassed clothes which might come in useful in the event of every eventuality, however unlikely.

This morning, for the first time, I was very aware that I have succeeded. However much I am aware of it unconsciously, and how ever much I keep telling myself that I have enough, I don’t need more… this morning it somehow all dropped into place in my head.

Today I will be standing outside in sunny, bitterly cold weather. I have tall warm Ugg boots. I have cozy moleskin black jeans. I have a thick black rollneck cashmere sweater, and a silk camisole to wear underneath it, and I have a cashmere poncho as an extra layer (I favour big wool shawls as a top layer, but they can be overly bulky with a heavy rollneck. The poncho is perfect for today, and as it is a soft blue, it also lifts the winter blacks).

The point is, I didn’t have several iterations, all not quite right, or even several perfectly fine iterations that I couldn’t get round to wearing. I think we all go around with a magazine-spread-ready idea of weekend wear! Party outfits! Cozy winter layers! and they don’t necessarily fit our lifestyles. The Christmas holidays were really an extended weekend for me, and I either wore things suitable for lying on the sofa with pets, or alternated two pairs of jeans and three sweaters. I didn’t break out any of my Sunday best, although I did wear an elegant, comfortable dress on Christmas Day. If I like parties more, I could have worn something more dressed up, but it would have been a silk dress or jumpsuit I can wear year round, and which is occasionally lent to my daughter.

This has been one of the hardest things to internalize: I probably never need to buy Sunday best clothes ever again. My job allows for a certain leeway in terms of work clothes – while the requirement is loosely “smartish and modestish” (ie no bellybuttons, no trainers, no jeans), I can push it to Uggs and cords in one direction and silk pyjama shirts and velvet pants in the other. Most things in my wardrobe will get worn, and I can indulge my love of rich fabrics and patterns, so I don’t need more very formal wear, because given the restrictions of my party-going social life, it’s perfectly fine to wear one of three lovely pieces. Not least because they were all bought for longevity and always look great.

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