This may sound silly to you, but clothes for me hold a lot of memory, a lot of feeling. I associate things, moments in my life, with what I was wearing at the time. I remember the dress I wore when someone said they fancied me. I remember what I had on when I traveled. For instance, had a bright pink, handmade hoodie that traveled through Europe with me. I remember the feeling of it on my skin when I woke up from a nap in San Sebastian in Spain. That’s why I was heartbroken when Andrew lost it in Krakow. He didn’t understand why I was so upset, “It’s just a hoodie.” But it wasn’t just a hoodie. It holds memories and the feelings are in the threads, and that’s gone to me. It’s why I’m so attached to a cheap purple hoodie I got in Berlin after a Lion peed on me – the ridiculousness of that memory is etched into the fabric. I will never be able to part with it.
There’s the preamble, the backstory to my real point.
I wore this dress on the day Andrew had his surgery. I wore it because I like it, but I don’t love it. The reason why I don’t love it isn’t important. The surgery wasn’t life threatening, but as with anything, there is always a risk. And I’m a “it doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full, the glass is pointless and we’re all going to die anyway” kind of person. So I wore this dress that day in case anything bad happened. In case my worst fears were realized, because I knew that I would never be able to wear it again. I knew that if the unthinkable happened, the tiniest consequence would be that I would never again be able to look at whatever it was that I wore that day. So I wore a dress I could put in the trash right away.
This is my brain. My brain works in the weirdest ways, I know. But at the same time, choosing what I wore and thinking about this was the only form of control I had that day. So I gave myself that delusion of control, because sometimes things are irrational but they get us through the day.
For the record, the surgery went great. The dress is laundered and in my closet again, with a strong and happy memory attached to it.
Roland Edward LeggeAugust 7, 2018
Jo, I appreciate your article. I never thought of clothes in this way. Yet I know that clothes come with memory some good and some bad. I think why is it I hang on to a particular garment for a long time. I think it is because I feel good about it. I think it is more than clothes. I think of the things I got rid of after my divorce from my first wife. It was anything that reminded me of her. Thanks for your insightful article. I always appreciate the photos. They are well taken and you always look great.
JoHaughtonAugust 7, 2018
Thank you. I feel clothes have a special relationship with us as they act like a second skin, so I can’t help but think they accumulate the things we go through in our lives. Like you said, there are things you have to get rid of and others you can’t bear to part with for, sometimes, inexplicable reasons.