Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm Cheery, Honest!

I can't believe that going shopping for clothes yesterday brought on a horrific bout of existential angst. I'm such a failure at being gay. I started out with an idea of getting some slightly smarter trousers, a pair of jeans and a couple of shirts. The thinking was that a few people had said they thought I looked good in smart clothes, and I like it when people think I look good, so I looked for smart clothes.

I think that might have been the root of the problem. After elbowing through teenagers in H&M to try on a smartish short-sleeved shirt, I discovered that although it fitted okay (hung a bit loose around my waist, tight around my chest, the material was cheap and you could see my tattoos as clearly as if I were naked. Could be good in some situations, but isn't exactly formal.

A few more shops in and I realised how little vision I had for what I wanted to wear and then that started to dissolve into a sense that what you wear says who you are, so if I'm trying to discover a new outfit, am I expressing a deep dissatisfaction with who I am and how the world sees me? More than that, is a desire to appear as someone you do not currently seem to be an annihilistic drive; an abnegation of your identity and history, abandoned in the doorway of a Chiswick charity shop?

Perhaps it's not that extreme, but you know what I'm like for extrapolation. I found myself wandering around looking at the people for whom what they wore obviously mattered enough to make them feel part of something more than themselves. Fashion gangs flocked around particular isles. Hipster, Skater, Indie Kid. All I saw was suits in colours Kookai ran in 1997, the kind of padded lumberjack shirts I wore when I was 15 (and the people buying them were wearing nappies) and endless tired, comedy t-shirts. Oh, and drainpipe jeans. Drainpipe jeans? Are we just to celebrate starvation and weakness these days?

I suppose so. I went with a pair of Carhartt jeans in the end and abandoned my dreams of posh drag for now and might have to brave Westfield next week and hope that I can go with a sense of adventure for novelty rather than a crushing sense of despair that things like this just don't matter to me the way they seem to for other people and a desire that I could be one of those people who gets excited by any of this. I don't want to be anyone other than who I am. The howls of those zombies lifting their discoveries aloft (slogan t-shirts they used to sell at the market by the Wimbledon dog tracks in 1984) should serve as a baying warning to remember that the beauty of life is in its diversity and that we should not seek to be different by joining tribal packs of the undead.

Want to see my new jeans?

1 comment:

Ash said...

"you could see my tattoos as clearly as if I were naked"

Now THAT is a pretty cool pair of trousers. I have only ever seen such a pair once and those were in clear PVC. I didn't get them at the time bacause I was at my largest ever dress size and they were not available in it. I wouldn't get them now, although I am 1-2 sizes smaller (which they had. Although who knows if I could find the shop again and if they'd still have the same trousers) I think of how icky and sweaty they would feel.

I identify with the ambivalance of buying new clothes, especially if it's motivated by trying to look and/or feel different. I hate the cosumerism of buying new clothes just because they're gorgeous when one has lots of perfectly good clothes already.

However, considering I wear almost all black (used to be a sort of half hearted goth thing, now something I continue simply because it makes laundry less complicated. I had a small crisis in Next recently looking at pants with rainbows on. I loved them, I wanted them, but the label said "wash like colours together" and I was so genuinely confused that I decided to stick with what I know), and I do a lot of cleaning with bleach, which can splash/splatter, then hot wash my clothes every night (both obviously for work related hygiene reasons) that I am at the stage of needing to decide whose idea of "perfectly good clothing" I should go with. At the moment, crusty old punks would probably be the only local group likely to rate 8 out of 10 of my regularly worn clothes as acceptable.

I can't work out how much I care about that. I'd have said I'd rather be frugal and stick with clothes I have until they physically disintigrate.. until charity shop over the road reassured me the "rag man" gives them money for clothes donated in poor condition, which then go to developing countries/ desaster zones, and if even rejected even there are used as rags to fill matresses etc. Many charity shops just throw out stuff that is not in "saleable" condition and, worse, have to pay for the privilege, so it's always worth asking.