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.”