Anne T. Donahue
People change. Nobody reading this is anything like the person they were last year, and most of us aren’t anything like the people we were before navigating a pandemic was part of our day-to-day lives.
I know I’ve changed a lot. For a silo full of reasons, I’m painfully aware I’ve moved from being a former version of myself to the one I’m inhabiting now, and while I had moments of wanting to fight it, I’ve finally made peace with the realization that time doesn’t move backwards, and I refuse to wear anything that isn’t inherently comfortable or allows me to bloat. Once upon a time, I missed and pursued the rush of building “outfits.” Today, I do not. And so, it is with a light heart that I finally announce: I think this is just the way I dress now.
Currently, I’m wearing a thrifted plaid and a pair of Roots joggers, and the only thing I’m unhappy about is that I’ve chosen to write in my bedroom instead of the kitchen which is in close proximity to the cheese. (Another development: I eat and like cheese now.) I will go out in my “look” and I will go outside proudly: where most of 2020 was defined by my apologies for wearing sweatpants to the store or for living in oversize t-shirts that were intended for a larger man (I enjoy movement, and excess cotton allows this, thank heavens), the majority of this year has been reserved for merely showing up to places, wearing whatever. I’m not sorry for wearing the joggers I wanted but couldn’t afford as a sweet baby teen. I’m not sorry for the plaid button-up I could wear as a midi dress. I want to dress the way your aunt may have in 1994 when she was cleaning out the garage. I exist for shoes that are of the “running” or “lifestyle” variety and ensure my aging back can hold up against the cold light of day.
And there’s a freedom that comes with this; with the realization that your own comfort ranks higher than wearing things you feel trapped in or tired of — or like you’re playing dress up as the person you’d be in a different year or time. Which isn’t to say this applies to everybody: thanks to my adventure in putting on clothes while wanting to walk into the ocean this year, I’m just ready to admit that I’m happies in my Crocs and a second hand tee. Because life isn’t comfortable, so at least my clothes should be. Which isn’t something I’m sorry for. Ultimately, I simply want to get dressed every day in pieces that make me feel like I can breathe so that when it may feel like I can’t, I know I can get through whatever’s happening. And from what I’ve been able to tell so far, I do that best when dressed as a sixth grader in the nineties. It’s fine.
Which is to say, everybody’s choices are fine. Nobody here needs the disclaimer that I know that my version of comfort is the blanket sort or that I’ve figured some secret out that you’re blessed to be graced with. Far from: my approach to clothing may sound terrible to you, and you may cling to the opposite of my own tastes the same way I’m now clinging to my blue light glasses. But I think that’s the point. The question isn’t what you wear as you move further and further into yourself, the question is how your style has been making you feel. What’s comfy? What’s powerful? What’s the thing you hope to run into your worst enemy into?
It took me only 36 years to understand that I could check off all three when in pieces that are soft and bulky (I can’t do leggings, I just can’t) and allow me to carry multiple items in my hoodie pocket. Evidently, this is just the way I dress now. At least for today, since who knows who we’ll all end up being tomorrow.
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