I was getting dressed in front of a particular person in my romantic periphery today. After about 30 minutes of frustration, fussing around with different articles of clothing and outfits, he uttered something that struck me in my gut about every inadequacy I have in my body. What he said was this: “I would appreciate it more if those people I know who dress well didn't spend 30 minutes figuring out what to wear."
Ouch. He didn't say this in direct reference about me—though obviously I was included—but ouch.
Getting dressed is a pretty personal thing, right? Not only because there is something deeply invasive about someone watching you put clothes on, but also because “yourself” is what you hope to be in the end. We know this from every exclaim at the end of piecing together an outfit that sounds like: “I’m just not sure if it’s me.” There is a physical frustration within the body when you can’t seem to fit into anything that communicates who you are.
But he's right, you know? There is a value placed in being effortless when deciding what to wear. The amount of value placed in effortlessness greatly outweighs the value in being conscientious about what you wear. Why does effort equate to invalidation? It took Michelangelo four and a half years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We don't discredit him for taking so long to create his masterpiece.
How long it takes me to get dressed has always been joked about or scoffed at. I have shown up late to more events than I can remember because of I’m trying to choose an outfit. The amount of time I spend in the morning getting dressed has been on my mind a lot lately. My mindfulness stems from hearing these comments. These words from your mouths, friends, are destructive to my ability to construct my masterpiece. I have been reduced to aiming for a solid ten minutes to get my ass out the door, but haven’t really been successful.
Like today. It was raining and I wanted to wear these green Hunter Chelsea rain boots that I haven't worn since last winter, but they are also clunky and green, like the color of every single raincoat I own. Yet, it was still raining and both were crucial to my outfit.
I felt defeated when trying to come up with another idea of where to start. I have these shoes that I’ve been dying to wear (these satin Superga sneakers that scream party), but couldn't wear them because the rain fucks up satin (FYI).
I was then set back by this comment that my person, my supposed confidant, uttered in a way that seemed to take away all of my integrity. The way he said this was as if I was putting on a costume, not clothes, to take a bow and expect applause. He said this as though I wasn't sincere when I’ve expressed how I only get dressed for myself, just because I fucking like to. This, I thought, he appreciated.
That’s another thing: his comment upset me because, at one time, how I dressed had some type of value to him, or so I thought. He appreciated what I wore, and therefore appreciated who I am. How dare he discredit his feelings after he was the one to solidify them.
Allowing the way I dress to give value to the relationship, a relationship, is futile. Especially when I have made it such a point to keep it an independent process. It was great, however, to have recognition given to my clothing choices because it’s a nod to me, to my personality, and any compliment on the way I dress is a compliment to my soul.
Here’s the point: this comment insulted something of significant value to me: the way I dress. Not only how I dress, but how I get dressed. I would make dressing myself my profession if I could. I already do it like it’s my job, so when my sartorial integrity is questioned I say this: Don’t tell me how to do my job.
I'm fine, we're fine, but I felt called to defend myself on this. There is value I see in myself, in the way that I dress. There is this value, though, because I’m the one who gave it to myself. I’m taking back what is rightfully mine. That is how I get dressed. However long it may take, it’s okay because it is working—and you don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Illustration by Taylor Roberts