Saturday, January 14, 2017
From Inside My Closet
In the glorious, and cautionary tale,way of the internet, I read this week an online article published in April 2015 by Harper's Bazaar. The article was written by a New York art director, Matilda Kahl, about her decision to create a "work uniform"; basically, she wears the same clothes -- white silk blouse, black necklace, black slacks -- to work every day.
The article went viral, probably because the concept is so smart yet so shocking. For women, it's also rather appealing.
It's both fascinatin, and depressing that this idea of uniform remains a hot-button issue for women who work in non-uniform jobs (such as nursing). Whether they are teachers, artists, movie stars, princesses, or stay-at-home moms, most women feel the weight of expectation to wear a new outfit every day or for every public appearance. Kahl feels that the more "artistic" a person's work, the heavier the expectation for creativity in her dress.
In the article, Kahl writes, "To state the obvious, a work uniform is not an original idea. There's a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit. For men, it's a very common approach, even mandatory in most professions. Nevertheless, I received a lot of mixed reactions for usurping this idea for myself. Immediately, people started asking for a motive behind my new look: "Why do you do this? Is it a bet?" When I get those questions I can't help but retort, "Have you ever set up a bill for online auto-pay? Did it feel good to have one less thing to deal with every month?"..."
This gone-viral article has made Matilda's decision to adopt a work uniform so renowned that her Instagram description says, "Wearing the same thing to work, every day." It's now her identity.
I admire her courage and self-determination yet I fear I will remain a slave to new clothes. But this is oh, so tempting.
After reading this article, I thought of the shopping I feel compelled to do in order to wear a different outfit to every book event. I do this so that the photos of each event are different. Is this the result of social media, where we put every single thing we do every single day? Social media lets us track everyone's activities; it wouldn't be difficult to check out my three accounts and discover -- OMG!!! SARA JEWELL IS WEARING THE SAME OUTFIT TO HER READINGS!!
I wish I had the guts and the confidence and the thick skin to have an "author uniform". I wish I didn't like clothes so much, even though I often look at the closet in despair for not seeing the "right" outfit I'm looking for.
The outfit I wore to the book launch in Pugwash in November, the top of which is pictured in the photo, would be perfect for every event. It would be the perfect author uniform for fall and winter; I could have a different one for spring a summer. I would no longer have to worry about what to wear, I would no longer have to waste a day shopping for something new to go with an existing pair of pants or for an entirely new outfit, I would no longer spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that I'm often only wearing once.
Erg. Writing that all down makes me feel kind of sick. And stupid. A bit sheep-ish.
Ah, but I don't have the nerve. I'm totally programmed, not proud of it, but what you can't see in the photo is the pair of red boots and black pencil skirt I bought yesterday. As tempting as an author uniform is, those boots were waaaay more tempting.
And in some ways, I do have a work uniform: Like so many writers, I wear black yoga pants and a hoodie to work every day.
Here's the link to Matilda Kahl's article: