No doubt you’ve heard of Einstein’s famous equation E = MC². But how many of us know what it means? I admit, I didn’t know off the top of my head, but fortunately for me, my brilliant daughter did. E stands for Energy, M is Mass, and C signifies the speed of light. So the equation symbolizes a quantification of energy determined by a specific mass moving at the speed of light. Something like that.
What, you may well ask, does this have to do with Makeover Monday here at CYC? Well, after last Monday’s Makeover, as I tossed around various topics to cover, I kept coming back to the same thing: the inescapable fact that my own wardrobe needs not just a makeover, but a total overhaul. And ever since I introduced Makeover Monday to Closet Confessions last week, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of continuing this collaboration of CYC favorites. And the possibilities in their alliterative titles naturally led to my new wardrobe equation. Here it is, along with my profuse apologies to Einstein:
C² + M² = E. (Closet Confessions plus Makeover Monday equals Epiphany.)
In keeping with this new formula, I’ll start with my latest Closet Confession, namely: I hardly have anything to wear.
Don’t get me wrong. Although in terms of sheer number of garments, I’m pretty sure my wardrobe is on the small side, there’s still a substantial quantity of items. (Remember my stack o’ sweaters from last week?) But (and this is one big but) not that many things actually work for me on a day-to-day basis.
I know, I should know better. I’ve been into fashion, costume design, wardrobe planning, sewing, knitting, and anything else that has to do with clothes almost since I can remember. Now I’m writing a blog about clothes. So why I am in this situation?
Here’s my theory. Something or other is always changing in our lives, right? Maybe it’s a new job, you move across town (or the country), gain/lose weight, develop new interests, get older. It’s also likely that your taste itself evolves with time. And as I’ve written about before, what we wear is always indicative of where we are in our lives; if we’re not changing our clothes in some way, it almost always means we’re in a rut, either with our lives, or our clothes, or both.
In my case, in looking through my closet, I am struck immediately by how many things I’ve had for 5 years or more. This is not a bad thing, since it’s at least an indication that I buy and make good-quality, versatile clothing, but on the other hand, my life 5 years ago was quite different than it is today. For one thing, the climate in Portland is quite different (believe it or not) than in Seattle, which I got a taste of the day I moved here and it was 106ºF.
Also, my work situation has changed substantially; I’m looking for work in addition to writing, but I’ve only just realized how little I have that could be combined into something approaching a creative-professional look. And the third major recent change for me is my interest in Argentine tango. The challenge for me, then, is to adjust my wardrobe to meet my current needs—without replacing everything I own, or for that matter, outgrowing my average-sized closet.
For those of you unfamiliar with Argentine tango, unlike ballroom dancing (which I’d also been involved with for several years), almost anything can be worn to a milonga (a social dance just for tango). There are surprisingly few companies making tango-specific clothes (just ask Google), probably because Argentine tango is in general intended to be a social dance; there are a few competitions, and some “show” tango, certainly, but the main venue for us to use Argentine tango is at the milongas, so special dance clothes are really not necessary. Just the other night, I saw women dancing in everything from denim shorts to handkerchief-hem skirts (all of which look wonderful with high tango heels, by the by). And some men show up in suits and ties, even the occasional fedora (!), while others might wear baggy cargo pants and t-shirts.
So the Makeover part of my new equation is going to involve adjusting my wardrobe to keep up with the changes in my life. I think we all, at times, might allow our wardrobes to dictate how we live our lives, rather than the other way around. (Simple example: I once decided not to go out and meet friends for dinner, because I didn’t think I had the right outfit. And I really wanted to go!) I have a theory that, with enough forethought, I can develop a wardrobe that would allow me to look professional during the day (meaning no flippy little red spandex skirts), but with possibly a simple change of accessories (or removing a jacket), I could go straight to a milonga. Again, planning is key to making this work.
It is interesting to see how, just a few months into learning Argentine tango, it’s having a ripple effect in many aspects of my life, of which my wardrobe is one. There are many things I’m now taking into consideration with the clothes I wear for dancing. For example, although I love the idea of wearing a sparkly sequinned top, that kind of fabric would probably not feel very good under my partner’s hand on my back, and when dancing in “close embrace” (connecting through the upper body— a bit like a hug), the same would be true for the front of my top or dress. Just the issue of the feel of fabric has made me reject several things in my closet as possible tango-wear.
And this, fellow fashion philosophers, is the Epiphany that completes the new equation: once I’ve identified my wardrobe issues, I can come up with a plan of action so that my life determines my clothes— not the other way around. Say it with me:
Closet Confessions plus Makeover Monday equals Epiphany!
So for right now, Makeover Mondays will be dedicated to the development of my new take-your-tango-to-work mentality; just rethinking what makes my look professional will constitute much of the makeover part of the process. I’ll be planning clothes to make, searching the thrift shops, and very likely remodeling some things I already have. My wardrobe may not be transformed at the speed of light, but at least you’ll get to see it all happen right here, on [pause for dramatic effect]… Makeover Monday!