Clothes. So much can be built up around something that can appear so trivial; frivolous; basic.
I have a hard time some days with my work in thread. I have such a desire to be a positive and moveable force in the world that sometimes working on whether or not a skirt looks good on a butt really doesn’t feel like I’m fulfilling that need.
Out of all the things that an environmentalist and humanitarian could work on -at times skirts don’t seem like they much matter. Some days it seems trivial, a superficial thing to be concerned with when there are such bigger fish to fry.
And yet, we have a few basic needs when we come right down to it: food, water, shelter, and yes – clothing. If you strip away ego, fashion and trend magazines, pop culture and the media, we still need functional clothing.
I’m starting to read a book that I thought I’d roll my eyes at – but instead it’s reminding me that those threads and adornment matter. The book is called The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant.
The section I read today was about clothing and makeup during WWI & II. The excerpt she quoted from the diary of a British soldier liberating one of the first concentration camps moves me:
“‘I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives … It was shortly after the [British Red Cross] arrived, though it may have been no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted. We were screaming for hundreds an thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it. It was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick … At last someone had done something to make them individuals again: they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take and interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.'”
Adornment. We’ve done it for centuries – hundreds of them. Clothing is necessary. Theories as to why clothing and adornment are more than necessary but important, are valid uses of time.
I care how that skirt looks on your ass. I care that it feels good to wear. I care that it holds up and about how much land, water, fuel, chemicals, well compensated work and energy it took to get it to you. I care about how much waste there was from the creation of that piece and whether or not bolts of fabric ended up in the landfill due to overproduction, or the bane of clothing – that it went out of style.
I’m taking a deeper look at my reason for being here. I’m taking a deeper breathe into the fact that apparel is a complex issue for me and in my work. I come back to this spot over and over. Is my love of clothing design and my need to make the world a better place reconcilable? Is is a valid use of my self? Can I make any difference at all? Finding joy here is not enough for me. I also need to find value.
I don’t know a *thing* about amazing design, but these words speak to my heart. Daily, I wonder about value reconciliation and ponder (hoping desperately) whether I’m using my time and space in the most authentic, responsible, magical way for me. Thank you for sharing—I think we are in good company on the journey, sister. xo
So good to hear from you! In the recesses of my mind I now feel like somewhere somehow I have an email/text/facebook message from you – from – god only knows how long ago that I never responded to! For shame. It’s been a crazy crazy time! Forgive me.
You are one of my original heros. Glad to be on the journey with you. You are such a strong and bright light.