The Dressing-Up Box

So much of the fun of fashion, as I was reminded at a fashion exhibition in Kyoto this month, is reinventing yourself. Clothes give us the power to change how other people perceive us. But they can also change our sense of self.

Dressing up: as much fun today as it was back then

As a child I could be a nurse, a witch or Aladdin, depending which costume I picked out of my dressing up box. Today I can choose to be a whimsical creative (flowy long skirt), a corporate professional (suit separates), or an aunty to two labradors (t-shirt and jeans I don’t mind getting muddy). There are unlimited options for who I can be, just by switching my outfit.

But this year my options are limited. 

I can’t play a new character whenever I feel like it.

What does that mean? It’s frustrating, for one. After my recent holiday I’d like to try on a new Japanese-chic costume. I’d glide through the world, newly cool and collected, just by stepping into a Uniqlo top and Muji skirt.

Of course you could take the view that I should be looking deeper within to resolve these desires. And that was part of the intrigue of this challenge, if I’m honest. By bringing my unhealthy behaviour to a grinding halt (buying my way out of feelings of boredom and inadequacy) would I be forced to confront the underlying issues?

Not so far. If anything, two months in, the restriction is fuelling my obsession with fashion. I scan magazines hungrily, looking for new takes on things I already own. Working with uber-cool creative chicks, I feel inspired daily to re-work the way I have always put together my outfits. A posh frock with trainers. Old jeans with leopard print heels. Orange and pink and purple and red, all together. Dressing up is now as fun as it was when I was a child.

But if this challenge hasn’t made me less reliant on clothes for my sense of self, it has certainly encouraged me to take a risk, to be bolder and more creative, and got me feeling fired up by fashion all over again.

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