The Ritual of Getting Dressed

There was a time, several years ago, when I gave very little thought to my clothing.  I wore what was required for my job, when it was required, and I changed into comfortable (often sloppy) clothing as soon as I possibly could.  I did very little with my hair, letting it hang in whatever form my haircut would permit.  My morning routine was often quite rushed, and even the minimal preparations for the day seemed to take more time than I had.

Now, I spend most of my days at home, and dressing has become a ritual.  At night, I put my hair up in either pins or rollers to curl it.  I start the morning in a looser house dress, and change into a corset and a regular house dress sometime in the late morning.  At that time, I also arrange my hair.  If I do go out, there are different dresses that I wear for that purpose.

As the reader may imagine, this all can be a bit time consuming.  I have noticed that I seem to have far less free time now than I ever had when I was working.  I am not even really sure where my time goes most days.  My tasklist of daily chores seems overwhelming at times, and  I have been woefully behind on writing lately.

Given this, the reader may think why spend so much time on dressing and maintaining my appearance?  It may seem particularly silly, as most days, the only ones who see me are my spouse and my grandmother.

However, our choices regarding clothing represent fundamental choices that we make every day.  Do we take the time to dress neatly, or are we sloppy out of laziness?  Do we wear pants or skirts and dresses?  Do we leave the house in clothing that we could sleep in?  Do we allow ourselves to be walking advertisements for businesses or causes?  Do we choose clothing that looks pretty and traditional, or do we use our clothing as a form of “rebellion?”

vlcsnap-2014-02-05-16h43m12s7These are not trivial choices.  They speak to our values, our beliefs, and our relationships with others and with our community.  We are Axial Beings, which means that we have the capacity for Free Will.  Unlike animals, fairies, and nature spirits, we have the choice of how we present ourselves, and our choices in these matters are choices between Light and Dark.

I have found that my dressing ritual has been an essential part of my personal spiritual journey.  When wearing skirts and dresses, I feel gentler and more feminine.  When I look in the mirror with my newly curly hair, I smile and I feel softer inside.  When I get fully dressed, I have more energy for my daily tasks.

I rest happy in my new dressing ritual.  I think that it is time well spent, don’t you, dear reader?

See also:

Lolita-Mere Frills or a Light in the Darkness

Lolita Fashion and Philosophy for the Poor-but-Kawaii

Corsets and Updos

I have another confession to make.  In spite of my efforts to avoid recent and post-Eclipse Western media, I have been watching Downton Abbey lately with my spouse.  I do not know that I can wholeheartedly recommend this show, as there is some problematic behavior and it is not completely wholesome and pure.  On the other hand, I have been quite enjoying watching the clothing, hairstyle, manners, and a functioning, and relatively healthy, hierarchy.

Dressing Lady MaryOne of the things that this show has prompted me to do is to investigate and study the Edwardian period with respect to clothing and hairstyles, and there are some things that I have found quite interesting.  One of the things that was interesting is that all women from Countess to the kitchen maid wore corsets.  Now, of course, we have all been told horror stories about corsets, but I remember wearing one for a play I was in a few years back, and it was not as bad as one might think.  One of the things that corsets did was force one into good posture.  Interestingly enough, men’s clothing was also made to force good posture as well, with tight tailoring and accessories that restricted movement.

Anna Arranging HairWith respect to hairstyles, one of the things that I learned, was that in the Edwardian period, all adult reputable women wore their hair up.  I was also fascinated to see that from the highest to the lowest in rank, all of the women arranged their hair for sleeping at night, either in braids or similarly tied back.

I am seeing an interesting pattern, in that there seemed to be a value placed on having things under control, one’s body, one’s clothing, and one’s hair.  It is an interesting contrast to today, where we are encouraged to be as comfortable as possible, and to let everything hang loose.  I think that this is quite symbolic in many ways.

I recently read Jane Eyre, and I am currently reading Little Women.  One of the things that I am noticing in both of these books is an attitude of self-restraint and self-control.  Faults are something that everyone has, but there is an ethos that we must learn to control and correct for our faults.  Virtue is a matter of effort!

While I am not recommending corsets and updos (unless one wants to try them), I do think that we can learn something from the attitude of self-control and self-restraint that these things represent.  A lot of being civilized is not doing what comes naturally for us, but to strive for goodness, beauty, and virtue.  We all have faults and difficulties, but these are things to be worked on, not allowed to just “hang loose.”

Cleaning the Closet

It has taken me a few weeks, but I have finally finished the project of cleaning and organizing our closet.  The way the house is set up, we only have one closet, but it is a rather large walk-in closet.  While walk-in closets are wonderful, there is a temptation to start just throwing things in the closet, and a temptation that we have and do succumb to.  When this happens, a walk-in closet can be a frightening place that harbors closet monsters.  Closet monsters hold one’s clothes hostage out of fear of opening the closet door and letting the monster out.  Or if one braves the closet, one must run the risk of injury when walking in as the monster grabs one’s feet and ankles!

Anyways, I finally summoned up the courage to take on the closet monster.  Rather than trying to tackle it all at once, I tried to do a least a little each day, and I did manage to do some on most days.  I am finding this an effective way to manage larger projects.  While I might get overwhelmed when I think of doing the entire closet, I find I can manage to muster the courage for small tasks.  Eventually, the small tasks come together, and one can see the end in sight.  At this point, I find that I start to have renewed energy, and then one day, I decide to just finish the task!

As a part of this project, I had to sort through my clothing.  Over the past couple of years, I have begun the process of changing how I dressed.  I am now to the point where I only wear dresses and skirts, and I no longer wear pants.  It took me a while, because I had to acquire enough dresses and skirts to manage.  We do not have much in the way of money right now, so I had to acquire these things slowly.  Happily, we have a plus size resale/consignment shop near our house, so this has made things a little more affordable.  Actually, aside from the affordability, I am finding it easier to find clothing in the style I am working towards at resale stores than I can at other stores.  The newer clothing often seems rather poorly made, in addition to the styles being rather unpleasant.  Some day, I hope to lose enough weight to fit into clothing at regular resale or antique stores, but for today, this store has been quite a blessing.

While I have been slowly acquiring skirts and dresses, I still had kept my pants.  I wondered if I might want to go back to them, so I did not want to cross the Rubicon just yet.  With the closet project underway, it was now time.  So, I took the plunge, and I removed the clothing I no longer wore from my closet!  In the midst of this, I also went through my dresser drawers and culled them in a similar fashion.  I took several bags to the Salvation Army dropbox, and I took the nicer clothing to the resale/consignment shop I talked about above to sell.  There are a few stray items that need to be ironed before they can go, but that is in process as well.

So, now I have a nice clean and organized closet, which I am rather excited about.  I can now retrieve my clothing without having to risk injury or invasion from the closet monster, and I have a place for my winter boots.  

Maybe this will give me the courage for one of my next projects…tackling the much bigger and nastier back porch monster! 

A Magical Day

I had quite the lovely day out and about with my spouse today.  We first went to the weekly Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in our town.  Now, I have been to Farmer’s Markets many places, but in our town, the Farmer’s Market is a community event.

As I started the day, I had a decision to make.  Over the past year or so, I have been introduced to the practice of wearing gloves.  At first, I start wearing them rather surreptitiously, driving in the car and on the train.  A couple of months ago, I visited a dear friend in Mexico who always wears gloves, so I did when I went out and about with her.  I really liked the way I looked and felt when dressed properly and that we wore gloves any time we left the house.  The only exception to this was when we went to the beach.  Then I wore my beige shirt dress, which in my regular life, I have worn to work or church.

SAMSUNGAs an aside, there was a bit of an embarrassing and uncomfortable incident surrounding this.  We went to a small local store.  Sadly, I do not speak any Spanish, so I had to rely upon my friend to translate.  Anyways, the lady at the counter did not speak English, and was speaking to me in Spanish, which I did not understand at all.  There was another lady who was just shopping in the store.  Although, I did not speak Spanish, I could tell by their hand gestures and looks that they were commenting on my attire and my gloves.   My friend told them I was from America to explain that I did not speak or understand Spanish.  The ladies did not seem to believe that.  Later my friend told me that they did not believe that I was American and that I was only pretending not to speak Spanish.  They were pointing to my dress and to my gloves as proof that I could not be American.  That is a bit of a sad statement in a way, but I have already strayed from my main story.

When I came home from Mexico, I became more and more brave about wearing gloves.  One of the things that I realized is that when I was dressing sloppily, I never was embarrassed or self conscious.  Why should I be embarrassed and self conscious about dressing nicely or wearing gloves?

Wearing gloves to the Farmer’s Market was another huge step though.  As I mentioned before, the Farmer’s Market is a community event in the town where I live, so I was likely to run into people I knew, or that my spouse worked with.  Despite this, I took a deep breath and made the decision to wear my gloves!

It turned out to be quite a lovely day.  At first, I found a lovely beaded necklace that went perfectly with the dress I was wearing.  It also came with a set of matching earrings.  I do not have pierced ears, but I thought my grandmother might like them.

SAMSUNGThen we did meet a couple we knew.  I was a little self conscious about my outfit, but they both commented on how nice I looked.  I told them about my self consciousness, and the man said that I was inspiring.  The woman, who is an amazing knitter, talked with me about ideas for making crocheted gloves.  It was rather nice.

After eating lunch at the Market, we went to a Fruit Market/Florist.  My spouse is setting about on a project of making pie with homemade crust and was looking for cherries.   She did not find the cherries, but *I* found something wonderful!  A new coffee cup!  My spouse thinks it is too small, so I did not get one for her.  She is more than welcome to her mugs (especially, as I have already replaced our old mugs with something a little more civilized).  I, on the other hand, can not think of a better way to start my day than drinking my morning coffee out of this wonderful new cup!

SAMSUNGWe continued to shop at different stores, and I think we eventually found most, if not all, of what we were actually shopping for.   One of our trips was to Walmart.  I found myself thinking, and whispering to my spouse, that I was being an influence that was anti-“People of Walmart.”  Then, I internally chided myself for being rather ungenerous.  A few minutes later, though, a woman walked by who was dressed in sloppy gray sweats, looking rather tired and worn.  She saw me, her eyes gleamed, and her tired expression turned into a big smile.  I may be imagining this, but it seemed that something had liberated in her soul, if only for a moment.  So, maybe in a strange way, I was being an anti-“People of Walmart” influence, but in a good way, by awakening the buried and repressed ladies and princesses inside people who may see me.

Our last store was the craft store.  My spouse wanted to frame a poster that we have had for a long time unframed and unused.  She wanted the poster for her office.  Before we went into the craft store, I thought that I had already found such lovely and magical things today, it would almost seem greedy to look for more.  Yet, in the store, there were lovely Hello Kitty glasses that made the little girl inside of me smile from ear to ear and they were on the Clearance rack.  What could one do at this point?

There was a wonderful woman at the framing desk at the craft store.  She was very knowledgeable and helpful, and she talked about how much she loved her job framing things.  Isn’t that such a wonderful thing to hear?  People around are often so grumpy all of the time, and one is always hearing people complain about this, that, and the other thing.  How wonderful to meet someone who was getting so much joy out of her part time job.

SAMSUNGOne sad thing did happen though.  I was retrieving my new necklace to take a picture of it for this article.  The string broke, and beads fell all over the floor.  My spouse and I found most of the beads.  Hopefully, we will find the rest later.  I probably do need to get them restrung on something sturdier, if we ever find the rest of the beads.  I wonder if I was, in fact, too greedy with all of the magical finds today.  At least, I got to wear the necklace today though.  I put it on as soon as I bought it.

Next, I went to a lovely Service for the Filianic Feast of Chelanya, the Golden Harvest Festival.  It seemed quite appropriate that I would have such a day of magical finds on the harvest festival.  Service ended the day in quite a wonderful way!

My spouse is now working on her pie, also appropriate to the harvest festival!  She never found cherries, so she is using blueberries that she did find at the Farmer’s Market.  Tomorrow, I will need to do some housecleaning.  I will admit that housecleaning is one of my most dreaded tasks, but I think I was inspired by the pretty things I brought into the house today!  With such pretty things, it seems wrong to have a messy house.

This evening, though, I will bask in the wonderful, magical day that I had!