A popular question among women: What’s the one garment that never fails you?
A hypothesis on the reason for this question’s popularity: We want to figure out the answer for ourselves.
The reason hearing about what works for other women doesn’t always (often) work for us: Because we’re different fruits. Duh. And what works for an apple doesn’t necessarily work for an orange.
That, and we evolve.
Example: If I had been asked that question last year at this time, my answer would have been an old pair of Levi’s with two rips at the knee. But those jeans are no longer even in my closet. So I propose an updated series of questions — less contingent on the thing, centered more around you — to consider on the quest to determine how your clothes will make you feel good about yourself:
1. How are you feeling?
Depending on the answer here, the follow-up question will change slightly, but the gist will remain the same. For me, the current answer is: bloated, tired, kind of withdrawn. (For context, I’ve been injecting myself with a hormone for the past eight days in addition to swallowing two supplemental hormones for the past 27 days, which are both supposed to help me get pregnant.)
2. So how are you going to break out of it? (If the above answer had been, “Great!,” this question would have been, “What piece in your closet reflects this attitude?”)
With fashion, of course. The thing is, my old tricks aren’t working. The waistband on almost every single pair of pants that I own is tight. My sweaters don’t fall the way I like them to, and there are at least three dresses that have historically made me feel great that plainly don’t fit anymore. It’s like looking into a glass case that is locked with a key that I once owned but currently can’t find. And when I catch my reflection? I don’t even recognize that person.
Where it’s the most difficult, though, is in this: when the foolproof way to pick yourself up out of a slump has historically been to get up, dress up and show up, but the “dress up” portion keeps falling flat, showing up feels impossible.
Then again though, it’s 2016, and I’ve turned over a new leaf. I refuse to tolerate problems anymore and accordingly, have committed myself to being indiscriminately solutions-oriented. So when the old tricks don’t work, you come up with new tricks.
Today’s new trick is the winter caftan, which is essentially the summer caftan only sometimes rendered in velvet and sometimes spelled with a K but often, too, just layered with multiple different pieces.
In exhibit A, you’ll find that I took the layering route incorporating a pair of jeans, a wool turtleneck and a double breast printed blazer — overall an outfit that neither renders me frozen nor allows for me to sulk in a river of my own self-loathing. There are daisies on my person, for goodness sake.
In item 2, what you’ll see is a customized celebration of Olsen style with a pair of kitten heel mules (I love them so much but don’t ask me why because I have not intellectualized it yet), a velvet caftan and white shearling jacket. The sunglasses make no sense but that’s why they’re there. The bucket is picking up the tears I left behind in Gloomsville but only to serve as a reminder that you, my friend, are your only ticket out.
Of course, a velvet caftan doesn’t hurt.
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis