Textiles have an uncommon ability to archive memories for us. Almost everyone, regardless of whether or not they collect anything else, has a collection of clothing which is generally made up of things from many places and times in their life. Much like a souvenir of a vacation, when you sift through the clothing in your closet you’re likely to revisit all kinds of memories. We have our most and least favourite pieces and why isn’t always a matter of age, fit, or fashion; in many cases, it’s because of the memories associated with a given textile.
But how does this manifest in your daily life? Why, in the outfit you decided to put on this morning, of course! Here are a few things to consider that can help you make a more conscious decision of what’s going through your head and others’ when you pull an outfit out of your closet.
Are you nervous about meeting someone new? Pick something out of your closet with a lot of good feelings attached to it; wearing a favourite outfit can make you feel more at ease. Many people find confidence attractive, so being comfortable is important. I’m not advocating you bust out your favourite sweatpants for a first date, but there’s nothing wrong with a good pair of worn-in jeans and an old button-down. The favourite outfit is time tested and can elicit a predictable response from the people around you. It’s a controlled variable in a new situation, or a sign of trust and comfort in a steady relationship. Be warned though, while an old outfit may convey that you’re comfortable with who you are, it can sometimes be misinterpreted like you aren’t trying. Additionally, if you wore this outfit during a bad break up, then it may not be in your best interest to wear it on a first date as you may subconsciously project your memories from that moment onto the current situation. Maybe you can re-code the memories attached to a certain piece, but you have to decide when the right time to do that is.
Every argument for, or against, wearing a new outfit can also be applied to getting it in the first place. For the sake of argument, let’s say that you already bought it. Maybe you agonized over it in the store. Maybe you saw it and just had to have it. Maybe it was a great deal or at the thrift shop. It probably has no memories imprinted on it yet, aside from the memory of how you got it, and this can be a mixed blessing. While it allows you to start building a new meaning, it also means that you’ve never tested the reactions you’ll get. This, whether you realize it or not, can weigh on your mind throughout an occasion. Some people get a huge confidence boost from a new outfit, often for the reason that it has no baggage with it, but there is the potential for them to be uncomfortable — both mentally and physically. New clothes are often synonymous with a fresh start, and people, consciously or otherwise, can tell when what you’re wearing is new. This may, however, be received as a sign that you’ve made an effort for them.
Just as clothes can hold memories for you, they may also hold memories for others. You should keep that in mind when selecting an outfit. Maybe your significant other wants you to wear the new shirt they bought you, or maybe they’ll be upset by that dress you have from your ex. Style is one of our most powerful forms of communication, so be mindful of what your style is saying. Any moment could become a memory that is forever imprinted on your wardrobe, so make it count.