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

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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.”

The Hair I Inherited

My mother just came for a visit, and she left a couple of days ago.  By a strange coincidence, on the day she left, in my WordPress Reader, there appeared a Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis.  I do believe that when these things happen in this way, there is a reason and a purpose.  My mother lives across the country, so I really do not see her very often.  The last time I saw her was over two years ago.  We talked a great deal over the time she was here, and it was lovely to see her.

There was one facet of my journey that my mother was quite helpful with, in her own way.  Actually, it is a rather big problem for me.  That problem is my hair.  As you have all been reading, I am working on a lot of changes, including improving my clothing choices and personal appearance.  Still, there is the problem of my hair, and what to do about it.  One of the things that I inherited from my mother, and the rest of my family is very, very fine Scandinavian hair.

To be honest, for most of my life, I really did not even really try to do much with my hair.  When I was growing up in the 1980’s, the style was “big hair,” which was achieved using curling irons and blow dryers.  Now, I never learned how to use a curling iron.  I am incredibly clumsy anyways, so it was always an exercise in frustration, not to mention a painful exercise in frustration, as I inevitably would burn myself.  Besides that, no matter how much work I put in, my hair would go back to the straight, flat lifeless state it had been in.

Pin Curl styleI recently started researching pre-Eclipse hairstyles, and I discovered bobby pins and pin curls.  This has been the most wonderful discovery!  During her visit, my mother also introduced me to hair rollers.  Between pin curls and hair rollers, for the first time in my life, I have found a way to give my hair some life and body.

My mother also perfectly described the troubles I have always had with my hair, as these are the same troubles she has with hers.  As my mother described it, our hair starts off seeming compliant.  It goes into the shape that we want it to without too much trouble.  I have been able to put up my hair into lovely styles with bobby pins after a bit of practice.  Yet, as the day goes by, our very fine hair, strand by strand, escapes whatever we put it in.  It does not matter how many pins we use, or how much hairspray we use, the individual hairs still fly from their proper place.  Similarly, any curl will fall out by the end of the day as well.

As I was thinking of it, I think that the challenge I face with my hair is a very good metaphor for the challenge that we are facing when we try to be pure and innocent, particularly in the Late Iron Age in a Tamasic Guna.  We start off trying to make changes, but we get lazy or tired or start to feel lonely in our efforts.  We decide to have dinner by the TV, or leave the dishes for the morning.  We decide not to bother getting dressed nicely when we leave the house.  It is just the grocery store, after all.  We watch modern television because it is on.  Spiritually, we feel too tired to say our nightly prayers.  If we allow these little bits of laziness to take over, soon we are back to where we started on our journey.

I think that the solution to these challenges is the same solution that I have to the trouble of my hair.  During the day, I may have to keep my hair up to preserve the curls and re-adjust bobby-pins, or engage in other efforts to maintain my hair.  I also need to keep trying and not give up, even though there are days it seems like a lost cause.  On a spiritual level, we just do our best to keep up with our prayers and maintain our connection with Dea, whatever name we call Her by.  We recognize our faults and failings, and keep trying.

We also resist the temptation to just give up.  If we do succumb to the temptation to give up, we can always try again the next day,  That works with both hair and life I think.  We can always try again the next day!

Oh yes, we can also learn from those who came before us.  Our troubles are not unique.  Thank you, Mom, for the advice about the hair rollers.