Truth be told, I am a sucker for a great outfit. You who share such fondness- an you know who you are- know exactly what I mean.... The type of outfit that transforms you. You put on the pieces of it- dress, pantsuit, chemise, frock... whatever and just zipping it up makes you feel better. And then there is that look in the mirror- that final affirmation, that life as you know it will forever be transformed... for the better. There is no need to confirm with a friend or a photo. There is no need to ask another person, "what do you think?".
THIS little black dress or perfect power suit or fabulous frock will "uniformly" be the fashion victor. Cut, colour, size, clarity- this IS the little black dress, the ultimate power suit and the frickin frock to end it all. You will be buried in this outfit if you have any say. This dress will make you whole.
My problem is that I have this attitude every time I step into a dressing room. Each new outfit I try on holds with it the potential to be THE ONE. Like a twenty something hopeful on a string of blind dates, I walk into each dressing room with the optimism of a schoolgirl at her first prom.
I could never figure out the nature of my serial dressing monogamy. Was it an illness? Was I plagued with a perpetual deep seated need for the perfect outfit as some subconscious way of making my life whole? Was I trying to affirm some shattered belief system through silk, leather and lace instead of the usual methods of prayer, chastity and practice?
Or was it to fill some deep hole in my life? Was there a spiritual void in me that only the most perfect McQueen fall line could attempt to repair? Was there a significant problem with my psyche that had me substituting a Prada for Prozac?
NO, this soul searching was bullshit.
It was quite simple.... Life is a series of outfits.... from baby clothes to blue hospital gowns and the little black dresses in between. My journey was a standard one that every woman goes through.
Studies show that children (both boys and girls) who are encouraged to play "dress up" at a younger age develop a better sense of imagination as adults. In fact the American Society of Pediatrics encourages parents to allow their children to use costumes as part of regular play.
Yes, girlfriends, that is the extent of my evidence....
No there is not a double blind randomized trial comparing patients who match their accessories to those who wear sweat pants professionally. However, I will say from my 10 years of medical experience (and yes I AM playing the DOCTOR card... ie: I AM pulling this one out of my ass... ) my patients who dress up for me are if not healthier; happier. NO, I am not suggesting that a Vintage Chanel is the key to prevent cancer (although if there is a randomized trial for this, please give Karl Lagerfeld my name and dress size). I am claiming that a good outfit can make the most out of a day....
I bring this topic up on this of all weeks.... because, well.... I think I found it. Last week the perfect outfit arrived by Purolator Courier. NO it does not make my butt look smaller and yes, in fact it fits funny in places. But... safe to say, my Vancouver 2010 Olympic torchbearer's uniform may very well be "up there" with my top ten perfect outfits of all time. On the surface it is a white track suit with reflective markings of the Olympic rings on the back and blue and green Vancouver 2010 graphics on one arm. There is a cute little white toque and the now or soon to be iconic red mittens with maple leafs on the palms. At first glance, white nylon tracksuits are not the definition of style according to any conventional means. It does however define me.
This sport tracksuit will be one of my finest hours. With head held high, my torchbearer's uniform will symbolize all that is hopeful and healthful and good in life.They say that "The clothes don't define the woman, the woman defines the clothes. I do believe this is true in many ways. But some day when my Louboutins are well worn and my hair is as grey as the new black.... I will look back on that one white track suit and that one moment in time when an outfit really did define a woman. I will remember that day in January when it arrived and like a kid on Christmas morning I tore open the package and immediately tried it on in the middle of my living room and refused to take it off for at least a good 45 minutes.
So think of me dear girlfriends next Thursday as I don my Olympic best and run the torch for all things great and small. Here's to playing dress up as children and developing our sense of selves. Here's to dressing up for doctor's appointments and feeling better for it. Here's to being fashionable and fabulous and not having to defend ourselves any longer. In the words of Oscar Wilde...
"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world can be found in what is visible not in what is invisible."