Why Clothes Matter
"People shouldn't judge you for what's on the outside. It's the inside that counts."
"You're a stylist? Like for clothes? Why is that even a job?"
"But can't people pick their own clothes? Why do clothes even matter?"
If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of those phrases muttered I would be able to dress you, me, and every other person in town from head to toe in Chanel Haute Couture. (For those of you who aren't "fashion people" that's a whole helluva lot of dollars)
I was thinking about that very thing tonight. Personal style has been something that has defined me as long as I can possibly remember. Certain items hang in my closet that I will never part with just because of the memories stuffed away in their pockets.
Clothing and accessories have a way of transporting me throughout time in the same way that smells and songs do for others. There's a sudden feeling of overwhelming joy that washes over me every time I hear the opening of "Rocks Off" for instance that reminds me of the time that I bought a copy of Exile on Main Street with the last twenty dollars to my name because I felt it fed me more than food. The same feeling happens when I look at a vintage Versace dress that hangs on a garment rack in my office. I drove nearly three hours to get that dress, and it was worth every single mile I put on my already beat up car. Sure, I didn't have AC, but I had Versace.
Every single time I go to reach for the Chanel purse I bought myself on its shelf, I giggle a little bit. That bag was the holy grail of all accessories for me, and it finally signaled that "I had made it" in this industry. That bag has the same effect on me that my very first vintage dress ever did. I remember thinking that if I was really going to commit to being my true and authentic self that this was the beginning. The very loud and very flammable dress hangs in my bedroom closet. I can actually see it out of my line of vision while I write this. While the dress no longer leaves my house, it's a friendly reminder to keep in mind that sixteen year old me would think that I am a total badass and would be thrilled to know that my inspiration and ability to never quite fit in are now paying the bills.
When I meet with a client that's a bit skeptical about the process of being styled, I assure them that I can help bring out all of the best parts of them while helping them find their tribe of fans. We are deeply tribal beings by nature. Back in caveman days it was wearing different skins or leaving drawings inside of our dwellings to let people know who we are. Native Americans had tribes with different garments to signal to others who they were. Our brains still work the same, so we might as well play into that advantage rather than fighting it.