Wardobe Architect: 7 Bits of Me

For the first step in Colette’s Wardrobe Architect we are supposed to describe how our experiences and views effects the way we dress. There were seven questions to answer for different parts of ourselves.

HISTORY
How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize? Have they changed over the years, and why?
How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected? How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?

During my defining years, junior high school and high school, I was an outsider. I was never really bullied, just not a part of the usual groupings. It was more during junior high school than high school, but my feelings were carried on. So, I dressed to blend in as I didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to myself. Plus I attended a fairly snobbish high school with lots of focus on brands and appearance, which I wanted to distance myself from (if I had only sewn then!), so my way of dressing was trying to show that I wasn’t trying. I’m now 31 and it was only in my late twenties I realised that I could sew my own things, look good and dare to stand out. So now I want to stand out in a way I didn’t want to in high school, I want to redeem myself and be that girl I wanted to be all along, but didn’t dare.

PHILOSPHY
How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

Just recently I’ve opened my eyes to what I’ve known all along about 3rd world textile industry. After the fires and generally the working conditions in those factories I can no longer justify to myself that I should buy the cheap H&M t-shirt or skirt. Plus I’m disgusted by the consumerism that is flowing over Sweden (maybe other parts too, but I don’t follow that scene in other countries) where people just shop and shop until their wardrobe are sold off, each item being unused or used just once or twice. Disgusted.

CULTURE
How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?

This relates to the History as well. I grew up (and still live) in Sweden. During the eighties and early nineties the law of Jante was very strong in Sweden. Another way of describing it is that Sweden is the land of lagom. This means that you shouldn’t try to stand out or think that you are better than anyone else.  It is quite hard to explain if you haven’t grown up with it (see the “cultural significance” under the lagom link), but it means that you shouldn’t do anything to draw attention to yourself, you should blend in. So this portion, in combination with my not wanting to stand out really shaped me. This was phased out in the Swedish psyche during the nineties, but it’s still a part of us, if a small part. I’m trying to break free as it is no longer “un-Swedish” to do something different.

COMMUNITY
How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?

I would love to wear beautiful dresses more often, but most times I feel overdressed. I am working on bringing in clothes that look good but are still relaxed (I just bought two cool jerseys for this purpose). I tend to dress for the occasion and people. Dinner with our best friends are in a casual skirt and top whereas dinner with the parents I can get away with a bit more.

ACTIVITIES
How do your day to day activities influence your choices?
Right now I’m on maternity leave and the days I’m just at home I don’t make much of an effort. Jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t particularly like it, but, especially now in Winter, I don’t know of anything else to wear since most days I spend at least some time at the playground. Going away, doing indoor activities, I prefer a casual skirt and cardi.
For work, since I have to go back in a month and a half I can dress pretty much any way, but I prefer too look polished and put together. However, since the kids arrived, I want clothes that I can wear to work and still have room to move about in, no pencil skirts! Again, jersey dresses.

LOCATION
Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?
We live in a four season place so I need clothes for all weathers. I’m not very good with layering, even though I should, and my summer outfits feel too easy from time to time.

BODY
In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
I’m pretty comfortable in my body, but I am working on finding an exercise and food routine that can help loose a few pounds. I don’t like the way clothes look on me right now. Also, being busty, I don’t care for too much cleavage or things that aren’t fitted, they just hang down from the chest. I’ve just taken up judo again (which I practiced as a teenager) and I love the feeling I get when I put on my judo gi. I feel strong and empowered and that’s a feeling I want in my everyday life as well.

3 thoughts on “Wardobe Architect: 7 Bits of Me

  1. I can definitely relate to the high school comment. Since it was private school, we had both ends of the spectrum, from the rich kids who wore all the popular designer clothes from Abercrombie, American Eagle, etc, to the kids (like my best friend from those days) whose parents were barely scraping by and sacrificing a lot financially to get their kids the education that my school had to offer. Even back then, I had this sense of not wanting to be a walking billboard, and purposely avoided clothes that had name brands plastered all over them!

    Layering well is something I struggle with, too. I think that’s why I get more excited about warm-weather clothes–just throw on a dress or skirt and top, boom, done. I’m hoping I can sort that out some this year and have more things I can enjoy year round.

    Your take on the cultural aspect was quite interesting! I guess all of us Americans are born with an innate sense of rugged individualism, to some extent, so the idea of trying NOT to stand out is hard to grasp. (But then, my knowledge of Swedish culture is basically St. Lucia’s Day, which I only know about because of American Girl dolls in the 90s, and IKEA.) I can definitely see how that would affect one’s sense of style.

    • The law of Jante was very strong, especially in the political left wing and working class. My grandmother (who was born working class) once told my mother that the best compliment you could get is that you are ordinary.

  2. Pingback: this post is total filler | dangerously alice

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