My New Year’s resolution? Dress for the life I want

The regular drip of dopamine has never worked for me. When I find something pleasurable, I tend to go too far until I have no choice but to stop. It’s why I’ve been sober for almost a decade, it’s why I’ve had to reluctantly put a succession of heart-warming yet terrifying men in the freezer, and it’s why I’ve had to avoid the sweet aisle at Waitrose. Abstinence and me? No, it’s impossible.

But bad habits are like whack-a-mole: beat one, and a new one takes its place. So over the past year, I’ve found that my “all or nothing” mentality has seeped into my closet. Like all bad habits, it started out as a sweater. A gray Cashmere Le Kasha crepe neck sweater on the oversized side is the perfect slouchy knit. So I put it on. I wore it again and again, until I wore it not only almost every day but often every night – yes, in bed. I know, I know……

That sweater wasn’t the cause of my transformation into “deep leisure” (if I’m being kind) and “sloppy, adolescent languor” (if I’m accurate), it was a symptom. Casual is not a bad thing, but I went too far. The fact that I went to open the door to my neighbours at 3pm the other day and they apologised for getting me out of bed speaks volumes about this. Given my uncombed hair and blank expression, it was a reasonable assumption.

I was embarrassed and tried to explain that I hadn’t just woken up, but I realized that I might have given up a bit. Moreover, they are not completely unaware. I’ve been depressed for the past few years. I’ve experienced grief, heartbreak and locking doors alone. But through it all, I was well-groomed – well-groomed, facing the world, advocating for the joy of change that dressing can bring.

Then it all got a little too much. For a variety of reasons, including the London property market and (for me) a humiliating career snub, I ended up camped out at my parents’ house in Hampshire, freelancing and thinking “Why bother?” The charm of “goblin mode” – that is, reveling unreservedly in our dirtiest, ugliest selves – only made me more bloated.

But I don’t want to sleepwalk through life. Honestly, I don’t think I should either. The saying “make it or break it” makes sense, so I decided to dress up every day as if there was an audience watching me, and pull clothes from my locker/closet/parents’ attic that belonged to my more aggressive self. It may seem ridiculous to sit at the kitchen table typing away in a Chanel jacket or a Balenciaga suit jacket, but my to-do list seems to get done faster. Grungy T-shirts were swapped for more vibrant shirts, and anonymous dark jackets were swapped for leopard-print Alaia coats that always felt empowering. I remember how refreshing a touch of red could be.

This costume change changed my mind and reminded me that when you make an effort for yourself, that’s when you find your true comfort zone. And the gray sweater? Still there, just not always there. Like I said, some habits are harder to break than others.

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