December Writing Challenge Day 24: All Dressed-Up and Nowhere to Go

(This week’s post originally appeared on as a comment during the 2020 December Writing Challenge.)

This makes me think about whether our clothing choices are other-centric, or self-centric.

Other-centric dress means we want to make a statement of some kind, to alert those around us to something – something we are, or want to be, or are experiencing, or intend to experience. This is everything from uniforms to party clothes to the tribe-identifying t-shirts @patrick.hubbard mentions in the lead article today.

But self-directed dress seems to me to be a far more powerful focus, especially in these times. This is articles of clothing or modes of dress that we use to remind ourselves of something.

The every day example is when we wear protective gear not to show others that we’re part of “the crew”, but because the slightly impeded motion and muffled sense provides a constant reminder of where we are, and what we need to be careful of.

Or, at certain times of the year or our life, when we wear white not to project an image of purity, but to remind ourselves of the immutable, unalterable purity within us.

It’s true that these days our options for where we can go are limited, and it might seem therefore to reduce the reason to get “dressed up”. But I am suggesting getting dressed up anyway, not for where you go, but for where it might take you.

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