Sunday, July 13, 2008

On lightening one's load

I took advantage of the semi-annual Altkleidersammlung to get rid of seven suits that I haven't worn in years. One of them was last worn in the 1980's, none more recently than 1994 when I moved to Stuttgart.

I don't wear suits any more, except for truly special occasions like operas and 80th birthday parties. When I worked at the Great Big Computer Company in the late '80s, it was of course de rigueur to wear a suit and tie to the office; I bought two suits a year on average in those days. I enjoyed it actually, the "dressing up" aspect amused me and appealed to my vanity—because, if I do say so myself, I look very good in suits.

But I don't do that any more. Times have changed, and even the computer companies I deal with these days don't seem to impose a dress code. Perhaps it's a sign of the market having grown up: computers no longer need to prove their seriousness, they no longer risk being mistaken for playthings or (sneer) secretarial items by the corporate chieftains.

It tore at my heart to dispose of the suits, even if I haven't worn them in over a decade. Among them was the very first suit that I ever bought of my own free will, because I wanted and liked it, in the winter of 1985. Paul Smith, £500 which was two months' take-home pay at the time. I'd hate to think what it amounts to these days. It's unwearable, of course, my waist has expanded by nearly four inches since then. It was already close to unwearable by the time I began at the GBCC, to be honest; I might have given it away then, but I didn't for the same reason that I then hung on to it for another twenty years: It seemed to be the proof of my having arrived at a kind of independence.

I went to Paul Smith when I was in London in June, revisiting the old shop in Floral Street in Covent Garden where I had spent so much time and money. I didn't really know what to expect, I had completely lost touch with fashion and style and the manufacture of taste. I did expect that I might find something that I liked enough to have to dither over buying, which would have been a real dilemma given my straitened circumstances. It was a poignant moment, a kind of sadly-cheerful relief to find that there was nothing there for me, that I had moved beyond (or at least away from) that lifestyle. I don't do that any more.

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Blogger Zhoen said...

Someone will be very glad of your suits.

I know the feeling, going to a very expensive store, and liking a lot of it, but not really wanting to own any of it.

July 13, 2008 at 10:15:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Oh I'm so proud of you, well done! REALLY! Clutter, even emotional one, doesn't do much for life being the way we want it. I think it's even hard to know what sort of life we want sometimes because clutter blocks the view in many ways, so excellent! You never know, you suits brought you happiness and now they may bring someone else some serious cheerful as well, picture them being used in a play by some suave character, wouldn't that be fitting?

I never go into expensive shops, wonder why that is? Ok, I actually spent a few moments pondering and I'm an idiot really, how hard is it to understand? I never go into expensive shops bcs a) I can't afford expensive clothes but mostly b) I never go anywhere. Which reminds me, I have a DVM thingy to finish, off I go.

July 14, 2008 at 8:58:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Dale said...

It's crossed my mind a few times, over the past few years, that I no longer have a suit to wear for the next few funerals, when they come along, of old people, which are the only events I can imagine needing a suit for any more. Maybe I could rent something?

July 14, 2008 at 3:10:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Geosomin said...

It's strange to get rid of things like that isn't it?
I still have clothes from when I was bigger that are very out of date and too big, but I just haven't been able to part with them yet...
As for me I try not to go in those shops...I'm finding myself more vain these days now that I fit most things in regular stores...vanity is costly :)

July 15, 2008 at 12:31:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Collagemama said...

Assorted thoughts on your post:
--Wish I had the suit fabrics for a quilt I'm making.

--It gets ever more difficult to find items in the stores appropriate for a person of my wise/chrome/pear-shaped age.

--Cleaning out closets after the death of a parent makes one reexamine our connections to clothing items. What is "too good to give away?"

--In the stress of divorce, I was a toothpick. A decade later I gave away the job interview suit I wore in that tense time. It's good to be somewhat larger, and happy in a job that requires casual attire!

July 15, 2008 at 4:36:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

The odd thing about getting rid of a category of clothing like this, is that it does somehow seem to slice off a piece of one's past and habits. After the initial shock, it feels good: lighter, more free and flexible.

Collagemama, welcome aboard! Nice to see you here.

July 18, 2008 at 10:28:00 a.m. GMT+2  

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