The Extraordinary Power of Suspended Animation
There’s a fashion designer in my closet. She’s been there since youthful days spent dressing paper dolls; no, before that; when Mommy nurtured a keenness toward creating an outfit, enhanced with tights, or other special accessory, maybe the head dressing hat, scarf, ornamental hair tie or clip, outfit-matching or funky socks and spiffy shoes or boots. These layers of zeal can still be found, not only inside my closet, but more so in my compounded personality; however each may be less noticeable without a careful sorting to find a fitting combination and avoiding the dreaded fashion faux pas, which, is generally, the catalyst to the most suitable getup, but not necessarily the most complementary. Just as our actions can be contrary to our personal preferences, so can our apparel reveal more or less of our assets and what may or may not be apparent and in accordance with our partialities where we sit on a particular subject (as it sits with us).
The inner designer may eagerly reveal herself in the mirrors of department store fitting rooms, then most days, hide behind a less vivacious, but putative wardrobe. The same could be said about all facets of most anyone’s life, as far as, holding back a willingness to try on many hats; rather, settling for an accepted style; so as not to become an unsightly spectacle. Regardless of whether the fit is comfortable or not, we want to be assured of acceptance in whatever circle we spin. So, we put our clothes on a spin cycle, repeating what others wear and deem appropriate; where we have confidence we will be welcomed into the fold.
In general, we are conditioned to respond unadventurously to things seen to clash with ordinary pairings, despite any internal excitement over unconventional blends… mono vs. poly. We are taught one way of thinking, a traditional way; thus trapping within our minds, a poly blend or, combination of thoughts, which may clash with, or gets us going against the grain of the fabric and is difficult to stop it’s creating puckers and wrinkles, so the garment doesn’t sit well and if it’s not a good fit, it makes us uncomfortable and we want to get out of it. It may seem our minds are not stretched with all of the biases we go along with; yet they are stretched with each bias; because following our hearts and minds can lead us to conflict or inner turmoil, which always lands us on the edge of proceeding or retreating… we end up on the salvage edge, that narrow strip of real estate where we salvage what is left after all of the stretching, straightening, flattening and pulling as cuts are made. Details are trimmed off or tacked onto our identity in order for us to become and cover who we are with a disguised intention to be perceived as who we think we ought to be or what we want to see in ourselves when we reflect and the image we want reflected to others. What’s left on the salvage is our branding, i.e., who we are without the excess trimming.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t custom tailor their look with some specific style or detail (I don’t think it can be helped!), even those adorning themselves with a simple signature piece like a color, a t-shirt, a colored t-shirt, headband, watch, or whatever, even suspenders. Yes, I had a pair of these as a teen, which I salvaged from a lifeless pile of junk somewhere. If I recall correctly, they had slender ochre bands with simple brass clips, but I really don’t recall anything except how they ignited me and how I was forced to put a lot of creative thought into how I could get away with them because I adored and appreciated them in a way no one else could; rather it was how extraordinary I felt or, would be seen to be through them. Seeing them and having them on animated my emotions. I felt joyous, exceptional and as special as they were to me. Sadly, despite their charm and the enjoyment experienced, our connection has been suspended. The illusion of a transformation from ordinary to extraordinary is a powerful confidence booster. Illusions, at some point are shattered, which tears us up. Things which animate us, generating excitement to be innovative through our learning and creativity begin as illusions because we never see everything there; so we speculate until we uncover each layer, discovering more, both dismantling and building illusions from what we are focused on at each point in the process of sorting it all out, which includes both purging and holding onto concepts and items we perceive as useful to us at the time. Any item repeated as the focal accessory may fool the eye as to not betray one’s true feelings, the feelings not shown or, to portray what one wants known, which may be due to a lack of interest, a need to fit in or an intense infatuation or captivation of a particular concept or item of intrigue or fancy for the feeling evoked. The usefulness of the accessory or, crutch is reliant upon and becomes part of the persona and can be associated to a signature or personal statement; whether consciously deliberate, subconsciously or on a whim; although I don’t believe whims really exist but are a result of an underlying inspiration, that of a suspended animation or, an existing motion waiting to be excited by the right signal. Whims, being the top layer and able to move seemingly, freely, are not free at all, since they project from what is beneath their surface; the endogenous stimulation or, from what comes to mind; the exogenous source of inspiration. What is your top layer and what are you telling others by what you put on? Ugh! At first glance of mine, I might be telling how overloaded I am with curiosity, non-conformity and desire for the perfect fit. My clothing collection, while highly organized into color and fabric categories, may be screaming loudly how I am unable to narrow my interests. This is not a problem. I am happy when I am learning; however I believe, there are benefits, always, to learning more about what means more and less about what means less.
There is much miscellany packed into my closet. I am made aware of many of my tendencies, given the colors I have more of and some styles I’ve repeated more of; however this great of an assortment also screams how I still haven’t found what I’m looking for and, how I cannot find it at first glance. It is necessary to delve deeper to find what’s hiding behind all of the garb and the garbage, in the closet. A thorough examination of each item, may be in order, to find which “spark joy”, like my former suspenders and as Marie Kondo discusses in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I understand I am a complex being, though I do not always understand the complexities of my being. Everyone has and employs layers out of necessity, for practical or speculative, imaginary motives. Some layers are either completely concealed, as undergarments (well, they used to be concealed, anyway), partially hidden, as a turtleneck might be, or fully exposed, as a jacket would be. You might think this isn’t really customizing the look, or you may pretend not to care how you appear; but that is really not the case in general, maybe for the homeless because they are not afforded style or comfort options. This is really the point, how factors beyond our comprehension affect us in ways we do not see; given circumstance, budget constraints, access and exposure to cutting edge, trending fashion, science, etc. makes or breaks the limits of how far your style sense makes sense for you or if it clashes with what surrounds you and what you settle for, more so in hopes others will be pleased with you than in you’re pleasing others. Your style statement can be what you want others to believe, which might be, that it is no statement at all, nevertheless, you’re creating an image and hiding yourself in your covering you’re imagining you in your covering. We look into the mirror with all of these layers on; it’s no wonder, we’re full of contradictions and confusion; we are cloaked even from ourselves.
Everyone desires a distinct identity. We are individuals desiring to make our brand stand out and be noticed above all others. We want to be thought of and treated as special and uniquely extraordinary. How we are perceived means a lot to the identity driven portion of our personality, whom fearing rejection, worries what others think of us. We may not only be fooled by our own reflection; but also by what we see in others and what they reflect upon us. What we keep inside our closets can say a lot about our identities or, if we are having an identity crisis, which I think we all go through from time to time, as we long to escape what we see and from the act of trying to manipulate what we want others to see in us. It’s no secret people judge a book by its cover. What is funny about this is, not one of us is an open book, we all have closets full of personal belongings we identify with (the person we long to be); but the only things others see are our outer layers; though we are multi-layered beings and what you haven’t got the nerve to wear outside may still reside in your closet because it’s crazy cool and feeds your appetite for the something you want to have a taste of in your life. Though you may be inspired to get up, you keep your getup down, playing it safe; but that is failsafe (foolproof); you could be failing yourself, which fails to be safe for you and while you may be fooling others, you are revealing proof of your own foolery. Nevertheless, your closet remains full of potential for you to fuse your unique and specific blend on the inside to that which is on the outside. There are plenty of reasons we stay hemmed in; but in letting down the hem, unraveling tightly stitched restrictions and by skirting the fringe is sometimes all it takes to begin pinning something old and worn by either dressing it up or dressing it down and… voila’, a new costume is sewn and for a time, anyway, you might find some joy in it, even if it’s only sparked in the form of suspended animation… trying it on can be worth it, just to see how it fits.