Countless times I have stood in front of my wardrobe, staring at my clothes and waiting in desperation for some sort of inspiration as to what to wear and absolutely no such inspiration is forthcoming. It doesn’t happen very often and most days I’m quite easygoing and will just throw something on without too much thought but when this “wardrobe-block” does strike it hits me badly as just none of my clothes feel right or make me feel right on a day like that. It’s actually quite dispiriting because something I might have worn a week before could, on a day like that, just not do the trick at all and in fact make me feel quite awful and just all over wrong, and subsequently be discarded to be dealt with and put away later as I’d inevitably end up being in a rush as time has run out and I need to get dressed in a hurry and be on my way. Nothing else might have changed since I last wore some of these garments except how I feel at that very instant, and at any other time I’ll be perfectly comfortable in it again, just not at that moment.
The process of taking something off just as quickly as I’ve put it on will most likely be repeated with a number of outfits until I’ve reached the point of despair and will say: “I have nothing to wear!” at which point my husband will chip in: “But you have a wardrobe full of clothes!” I don’t expect him to understand my predicament though as one shirt or pair of trousers are pretty much the same as the next one to him. After all these years of marriage and witnessing these occasional incidents of me not having anything “right” to wear, Ironman has learnt to read my body language and facial expressions when I linger in front of my wardrobe in that specific dejected way with slumped shoulders that says: “Nothing that’s in there will be right for me today” without my having to voice it and he’ll just sigh with resignation and ask: “Is it one of those days?” and secretly (but not that secretly that I can’t see his amusement) smile and walk away shaking his head in confusion. I’ve long since stopped asking his opinion when I’m having one of these moments as he will undoubtedly say the wrong thing and send me even deeper into my spiral of wardrobe-block-despair. “That makes you look young” will make (typical over-analysing) me wonder if it makes me look like someone in her forties who is trying to look like she’s in her twenties, and “That’s nice” will make me wonder: “Nice? Only nice? What does that even mean – nice?”; and “I like that” will still not change how I feel and make me wonder if he sincerely likes it or is just saying that to make me hurry up and make a decision. The problem probably being that I can’t even pinpoint my own exact mood at that point in time, how is my poor husband ever going to get it right?
Choosing an outfit and getting ready to go out for a special occasion presents some unique challenges and I’ve also learnt over the years not to ask my husband what the dress code for a function is that he’s organised for us to go to but strangely enough sometimes there’s no formal invitation. I learnt my lesson well and truly the last time this happened. Ironman accepted an invite for us to attend the annual dinner of a local sports club. A few days out from the function I asked him what the dress code was and he was going to check the invite but after a couple of days with my question still unanswered I asked it again and then the reply was that no formal invite existed. Ok. He then offered his helpful tip for the day: “It’s a sports club, it will be casual.” so I opted for a carefully planned and put-together middle of the road smart-casual outfit that could be dressed up or down and I wouldn’t be too over-or underdressed either way. Or so I thought. Beeeeg mistake. We walked into the room where the dinner was going to be and all the ladies were in smart frocks. I couldn’t believe it. It was like there was a memo that everyone apart from me had read. I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb! How very embarrassing! My carefully planned ensemble was completely out of place! The fact that my husband decided to go in his usual attire of jeans, shirt and jacket with a pair of running shoes and felt as comfortable in it and happy as a kid in a candy store didn’t help my case at all.
Luckily we arrived quite early so there weren’t too many people yet and I sat down at our table and tried not to be too conspicuous, but I was miserable. We hadn’t even spoken to anyone else yet, and I was quietly hoping that nobody would recognise me. Ironman ended up suggesting I go back home, change and come back (since home was only a five minute drive away) which I resisted at first but then decided that it would be the lesser of two evils of which the first would be getting up and walking out the room, driving back home, changing into something more appropriate and going back hopefully without too many people having noticed me executing my reverse-Cinderella manoeuvre/retreat leaving in what felt like my backyard clobber driving home in my pumpkin and returning in a beautiful coach dressed suitably understated but to the nines (and that’s assuming that the five minute drive back home would be the thing that took the longest in this little exercise, and not deciding what to change into or the actual changing), or the second: staying there in my original garb and spending the evening feeling utterly out of place and trying not to leave the table although there was a buffet for dinner (ie pretending not be hungry and making myself even more conspicuous in the process!). I opted for the first course of action and decided on my change of outfit while I was driving home, got home, changed, went back and walked into the room, smiled and pretended nothing was amiss and the evening was going exactly according to plan.
Since that time I haven’t bothered to ask my husband about dress codes and I try to keep my garment choices simple to restrict the chances of having a wardrobe episode, but I suppose it’s a girl-thing, for our attire to affect our mood and our mood to influence what we wear and some days I wish that choosing an outfit could be as simple as deciding what to wear based on what’s clean amongst all the clothes on your bedroom floor, which is apparently what child No 1 does (according to child No 3), but then again I think that would just be too boring…