I've done a shit-ton of work on my body over the last few years, not muscle-building, weight-loss kind of work, but strengthening, supporting, and giving-myselfa- break kind of work. For most people, this sort of progress serves as an inspiration to dress that new body in beautiful, form-fitting clothes. But I find the simpler my relationship with my skin, the simpler I want to dress it.
Having worked as a personal trainer for the past 15 years, I live in yoga pants. I never acquired any kind of fashion sense — never had to and never could abide by putting anything structured on my body. Even a button- up flannel is a step too far.
Given all the money and time in the world to replace my current wardrobe with anything at all, I would fill it with jersey dresses, roll-top skirts, old jeans, and thin cotton T-shirts — the fashion equivalent of living in my pajamas.
If you throw some sunshine and a lazy afternoon into the mix, nakedness seems just as reasonable. Toss a towel my way, and I’m good to go. I don’t like things tightly wrapped around my ribs, constricting my ability to breathe, or fitted at the shoulder, reducing the full range of motion in my arms. In fact, sitting in the coffee shop writing this column, I found it absolutely necessary to surreptitiously remove my bra.
I’m a bit confused by these impulses to shed the trappings that could make my new body more obviously attractive to the outside world. I love a girly dress and can rock some wedges for an hour or two, but beyond that, keeping it together to appear even remotely fashionable on a daily basis leaves me exhausted.
Fashion should be about lightness, not restriction.
My closet, once a sparse, well-laid-out grid of shelves and rods, is now barely visible for piles of sweaters that don’t fit, dresses that make me squirm with discomfort, and shoes that make me feel 15 pounds heavier when I put them on. I don’t like any of it. And I don’t like anything I see in stores either.
I need help. I need a savior fashionista, who understands the intrinsic allure of organic cotton, to sweep in, take over, and tell me what to do.
I have no idea what I like, but I do know that I yearn for each and every item of clothing I wear to liberate my body; though I’m pretty sure this impulse leaves me looking like I’m wearing a potato sack half the time.
Maybe I’m alone in this. Maybe everyone else truly loves a pencil skirt with a nice, stiff, starched shirt and a tailored jacket on top. No question, there is power and elegance in that, but it’s not for me, at least not right now. I’ve done too much work on this body to lock it down in somebody else’s idea of beauty.
For me, beauty is freedom, and fashion should be about freedom, too, whatever form that might take from day-today and year-to-year. Does this clothing free me? That’s my new criteria, and if that question lands me in an old maxi dress with a crossbody bag and a pair of flip-flops, so be it. I’m sticking with what feels right until the impulse strikes to don something more magnificent, something new that lightens my step and lifts my spirits.
Where I will find clothes that make me feel that way is beyond me, but I do have faith that they exist somewhere out there. Somewhere, I hope, a magical designer is combining fluidity and form at an affordable price. Until I find that elusive clothing, my uniform may not be fancy, but at least it will allow me to move.
In the meantime, I’ll glam things up a bit by doing my toes — a hint of earth-bound adventure and romance, purple glitter or bust!