I’ve been thinking about clothing a lot lately.

I’ve written about my personal style on this blog before, but lately it’s become something of an obsession. Why? Honestly, because that’s just how I react to stress; I get really, really into something to an almost absurd degree as a way to distract myself from the stressful situation.

Lately, the subject’s just happened to be how I look, how I want to look, and how to close the gap between the two. In a way, the whole thing’s been totally ridiculous; my current work situation doesn’t really allow for wearing the clothing or makeup I’d like to, and the jobs I’ve been applying for would most likely have a rather conservative dress code (i.e. neutral and muted colors). And I basically don’t leave the house otherwise, so what the hell am I bothering with all this for?

Well, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m reacting the way Ted Mosby did in one episode of How I Met Your Mother. (As many problems as that show had, I’ve found it depressingly relatable as I get older.) See, in one episode – I can’t remember which one – Ted has this minor breakdown about the fact that his life hasn’t gone the way he planned; that is, he isn’t living in a house with his wife and kids. So he impulsively buys a house in hopes that he can eventually move in there with his future wife and kids.

A psychedelic suit

Which brings me to the suit.

See, late last week I saw this series of photographs of non-binary people as their “ideal selves.” Since I’m genderfluid, it got me thinking about what my “ideal self” would look like – how would I want my hair, my face, my clothing to look? Thinking about that brought up one of my frustrations with the “psychedelic flapper” idea: although more “masculine” clothing was common in flapper fashion, I was having a hell of a time working the bright and psychedelic part into my “masculine” clothing.

What I wanted more than anything was a suit, one that was both bright/wild and actually fit me properly. I started poking around and found that I could get one or (maybe) the other, but not both at a low-ish cost.

But then, searching on Etsy turned up something that made me gasp. Here was this suit, this amazing, bright, psychedelic suit – a custom-fitted suit – at a price I could just afford if I didn’t spend my money on anything else but Christmas gifts for the rest of the year. I wanted it. I wanted it more than I’ve ever wanted any article of clothing in my entire life. But I couldn’t justify buying it and hesitated for a day or two, until one of my friends helped convince me to get it. (Thank goodness they did, too, because in the intervening days the suit had absolutely consumed my thoughts.)

Closing the gap

If all that sounds a little silly, well, that’s because it is. I’d become so preoccupied with how to dress my ideal self that I didn’t think about what was practical for my real self. Yes, I’m very happy with my purchase and will wear that suit absolutely every chance I get, but those chances will probably still be few and far between.

What I think I was really obsessing over was the gap between who I want to be (completely open and honest about every part of my identity, free to express it any way I want) and who I actually am (still closeted in many areas of my life, feeling timid and constricted). Like Ted, I was trying to deal with one part of the gap by obsessing over how to control another part of it. Basically, I was trying to get something that would say “I’m not adhering to your stupid norms, fuck you” so I wouldn’t have to.

But it’s not that easy. I have to say it myself. The way things are getting, maybe I can’t afford to. But honestly… I can’t afford not to.

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