1 November 2016

Finding Balance


I have been thinking a lot about the duality of life lately as I find myself progressing on my slow path back towards good health. There can be no understanding of pain without comfort, no sadness without happiness, no dark without light, no death without life, no man without woman. Just as I find myself now working to learn to dance with the pain, embrace the anxiety, and really apply the patience and flexibility I have learned over the years, so I find myself taking a more open and relaxed approach to my wardrobe. I find that my wardrobe has almost always been an insightful reflection of where I am in my life, to the point that it is only with the benefit of hindsight that I really fully understand what I was going through at the time.

Dressing has always been a mindful process for me, but often it takes moments of reflection after the fact to really notice trends and habits that build up slowly over time. Indeed this is much of the reason why I take a photograph of myself every single day, document every article of clothing I buy or sell, and keep a daily journal in which I often write about my experience with dress. I think that this approach is also a result of the fact that I have been practicing meditation for the past few years, which I found invaluable in finding a sense of peace in the rapid currents of life. But that delving inwards is only ever healthy when accompanied at some point by an equal expansion, because otherwise we can fall into the trap of getting caught in our own thoughts without a real sense of perspective.

I always find it interesting to think about what I wore and why, but also how it made me feel, because for me dressing starts with that individual experience. There was a time when I wore the most colourful and vibrant clothing I could find in an effort to hide myself. I thought that I could force people to see the clothes I was wearing without actually seeing me. To quote the OG Frank Lucas: “the loudest man in the room is the weakest man in the room”. There was a time when I wore draped black layer after black layer around me in an attempt to disguise the shape of my body because it had been so ravaged by disease. But the more confidence I gained in myself, ultimately stemming from an unconditional acceptance of myself, the more easy and relaxed my wardrobe became.

For the past few years my wardrobe, with the exception of a crisp white shirt and some plain white t-shirts, has been black. For those who know me, my uniform of black means that they can see me clearly, because the clothes look much the same day by day, allowing them to fade into the background. Conversely walking through the streets in full black, or standing in a crowded room wearing full black, means that you most certainly stand out and people see the clothes before they see you. I rather enjoy that dichotomy because it represents so much of life, and it allows me to dress in a fashion that has felt the most natural to me, no longer hiding or obscuring, but simply embracing my own truth.

Black is universal, black is both a beginning and an end, black is where I find myself at ease. But over the past few months I have been thinking about duality, and where I would like to take my wardrobe so that it continues to be a reflection of my personal growth. White has been on the periphery of my wardrobe for a number of years, but over the past three months I have really tried to engage with it as the natural mate to black. I have taken it slowly and allowed it to really take an organic form, without feeling the urge to force anything or rush into anything. I have simply been exploring my options and getting a feel of what I enjoy and feel good wearing. To be honest I have mostly been thinking of getting what I already own in black again in white. It seems to be the most practical way of exploring white without adding further variables that might distract me. As you can probably tell, I tend to go for quiet pieces, but all the same, when wearing all black or all white, they are loud enough.

I have stepped out of the house on a few instances now in head to toe white, and must admit that it feels like a totally natural balance to my all black looks - I am equally comfortable wearing all white, but emotionally it feels different. The best way that I can describe it is that it feels like an outward expression rather than the inward expression that is all black. It is nice to have that balance, and on many days now I find myself mixing black and white, usually by splitting top and bottom e.g. black t-shirt, black sweater, black jacket, white trousers, white socks, white shoes; or white shirt, white sweater, black trousers, black socks, black shoes. Plus the reaction of people who have only ever seen me wearing full black suddenly wear head to toe white is a worthwhile experience in itself.

Life is change, and change feels good.

2 comments:

  1. Everything you write is so beautiful. This makes me smile, because I remember wayyyyy back when, when you dressed quite colorfully.
    I am happy to hear you are getting better.

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  2. P: Thank you so much :) Haha, and yeah, whenever people ask me why I never wear colour, I like to think it's because I've worn enough colour for two lifetimes!

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