My entire closet consists of items that make me happy. They look good on my body, express my own sense of style and feel outrageously comfortable. Now it strikes me as odd that I couldn’t have said that two days ago. What was wrong with you, silly? my renewed self-image blusters.
Well, that’s simple, says the old me from her retirement home, I hadn’t been to a clothing swap before. Now quit talking to yourself and tell the nice people what we did on Tuesday.
I had the great fortune to participate in the 50Tuesday Clothing Swap & Trunk Show, where the ecovogue365 mother-daughter team of Russet and Jerah Coviello opened up their home design studio to a couple dozen ladies, and my eyes to a different way of thinking about clothing and fashion. For starters, the convertible fashion show came close to mind-boggling: on the lanai “catwalk,” Jerah and Liz Dobbins demonstrated 12 ways to wear ecovogue365’s signature garment, the “B”—from a scarf, to a shrug, to a hoodie to a cocktail dress and more. And to think, they only showed off half of the B’s potential! I’d never seen anything like it.
After the fashion show, it was time for the main event. Earlier that day I dug through my closet, dressers and trunk and excavated 11 items that have languished at the back or the bottom—let’s face it—for years. Clothing can be strangely difficult to part with, I think, for a lot of women. I hate throwing “perfectly good” things out, even if they’re no good to me. It has much to do with nostalgia—nostalgia for the fun times this strapless dress and I had together at weddings and parties, the victorious thesis presentation I gave in this button-up—a nice kind of nostalgia. But underneath that squirmed nostalgia for a body I don’t occupy any more, and in some cases I’ve truly never occupied.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make healthy changes to one’s physique, but there really was something wrong in the way I was hanging on to that size 2 grape-skin of a dress from H&M. I had to learn to let go. I’m not a teenager, nor a parade of hasty former roommates. When I unloaded my old duds at check-in, I realized I had an opportunity to practice a little self-love at this swap. It was time to end the war with my wardrobe.
So long, too-tight capris. I love your dusky pink color, but these striped Old Navy bermudas will banish a certain baked-goods effect in my hips. Bye-bye, frilly blue blouse; hello, romantic bohemian shifts. I took my time browsing, but didn’t feel undercut by the other swappers as we sorted through the racks, trying pieces on over our clothes and complimenting each other’s finds.
“Red is your color!” Jerah exclaimed as I ruminated over an artsy sleeveless blouse.
“It is?” I said, then looked in the mirror again. “Hey, yeah … it is!”
In case you couldn’t tell already, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the meaning of this clothing swap. I mean, the next morning my polka-dotted BAGGU sack full of treasures lifted my disposition more than a sublingual shot of B-12. Jerah has expounded upon the merits of the swap movement in terms of eco-friendliness—“eco” standing for both ecology and economy. For me it catalyzed a significant shift toward a more positive attitude of self-acceptance. I didn’t know fashion could do that; I thought it was mainly there to make the majority of females miserable. In my revised notions about what to wear, I have hit upon the realization that that clothing holds an uncanny amount of power. However, it’s a power that can be used for good in the world around us and the world inside us.
The things you can learn from a good cotton/spandex blend.
- Check out the video below from the 50Tuesday Clothing Swap & Trunk Show by Stephen McFadden of McFadden Creative.