The toughest part of packing for my upcoming move to Santa Fe, the part I kept putting off for weeks because of the enormity of it, the sheer complexity, was – nope, not my perfume. That was easy. I bought and filled a giant hard-side party cooler with those bottles, all carefully sealed and individually wrapped for transit, cooler taped shut and covered in FRAGILE stickers. They’re going to need a dolly (or maybe a forklift) to shift that thing.
Nope, the hardest part was my clothes.
I’ve always viewed clothing as costume; anyone looking at the array of stuff in my closets would logically assume it’s the clothing of several very different people, or possibly the costume department of a local theater troupe. I’ve never been particularly interested in keeping up with fashion trends, but I’m small enough (and weird enough) to own and wear a lot of vintage clothes, along with random shirts and dresses and skirts in eye-popping prints or odd shapes that amuse me. Whether they amuse or entice other people is not something I spend much time thinking about; outside of work, I dress to please myself.
In my other closet, there’s my extensive “work uniform” of conservative clothes in dark neutrals appropriate for my job and my local, professional-business-dress standards. During the pandemic, I spend most of my time teleworking in sweatpants or literal pajama bottoms and whatever top would pass for acceptable on Zoom. We cycled through an entire four seasons – hot, humid mid-Atlantic summer through cold, miserable, damp winter – while 97% of my work clothes sat in the closet, gathering dust. Working from home during the pandemic, I’ve also lost the weight I’d gained over the past six years sidling up to the bagel/brownie trays at our numerous work events. A fair amount of my work-wear didn’t even fit me any more.
Now I’m moving to an artsy/resort town that’s extremely casual (which I love) and of course I already own numerous cotton kaftans and kurtis which I mostly confined to our stifling summer weekends here to avoid side-eye from my boss on “casual” Friday. So, the larger question I was trying to answer, clothing-wise, is: who am I now, and who do I want to be in Santa Fe?
Anyway, I just … could not deal with solving the problem of my massive wardrobe. And then, magically, things changed one night. All alone in my house for the first time in centuries, I grabbed a few things from the closet, put some music on, closed the blinds, and treated my son’s now-vacant bedroom with its floor-length mirror as a giant dressing room. The modest goal I’d set for myself was to go through one small section of clothing, but then I realized: hey, this is fun! So I just kept going – through racks and boxes and bags of clothing, improbably matching separates up for grins and giggles, because I wasn’t looking for an outfit for an interview or going to a formal event, I was just … playing. Playing dress-up.
You know what I’m not taking? All the garments (mostly dresses) tightly structured to create the illusion of a waist, which disappeared somewhere after my second child. All the clothes built to minimize/contain my formerly-ample boobage, a problem I fixed a couple of years ago with a breast reduction, which by the way is the greatest thing I ever bought myself. (I picked my plastic surgeon because he was the only one who took me seriously when I pointed to his “before” photos of tiny, perky tits and said, I want those, I’ve been lugging these melons around for forty years, I’m over it. All the other doctors presumed what I really wanted was a small reduction and a lift, which is what most women my age/shape sign up for. I went from a 34DDD to a 32A and could not be more thrilled.)
A friend with similar tastes came over to help me cull the work-wear; I donated the nicest professional clothing to one of those help-women-dress-for-success programs, and I hope someone out there will be wearing one of my tailored dresses or fancy tweed blazers this fall and feeling like a million bucks. I’m hauling my favorite jeans and boots and my boho-clown-wear (okay, and a few things if I have to dress like a normal grownup) out to Santa Fe, in a much smaller pile of boxes than I expected. Feels good.
Move update: movers allegedly coming Thursday for my car and all my possessions. With luck, the next time I’m on here posting it’ll be from Santa Fe. I’ve found a place (toured by a friend via FaceTime) that I think will be great, and I’ll be staying with another friend until my moving truck shows up. This has been a slow, interminable march forward over the past few months, first getting the kids packed and moved to Maine a couple of weeks ago and now myself sorted and packed, and I’m really looking forward to stepping into the future, dressed in something quirky.
What about you? Has the pandemic changed your outlook on clothing? Are you going back to same-old-same-old or is something going to change?