Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,/But not expresse’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy,/For the apparel oft proclaims the man. - Hamlet
Yesterday, I spent a rainy, October afternoon in the delightful company of Ella Myles, the proprietress of Corina Corina, Warwick town’s premiere Vintage and Pre-Loved Designer Fashion shop. In short, it’s a little slice of heaven.
Surprisingly, I was not there to buy, but there to sell. A very different, and utterly unique experience for me. Which has felt me thinking:
What is about women and clothes?
What is the mesmerizing connection between a woman and the bits of fabric that adorn her body, and her closet?
Clothes may only proclaim the man, but they certainly do make the woman.
Over steaming cups of coffee, Ella and I pondered over the treasures I have amassed, and are now ready (albeit in some cases quite, quite reluctantly) to part withal.
My reasons for selling are practical: due my new-found diet of carbs, with a side of carbs, most of this stuff just doesn’t fit anymore; but there is of course the financial incentive. I am used to being utterly independent and self-supporting. And so, this new-fangled life as “Taken Care Of Wife,”“Freelance Writer” and “Freelance Scholar” sometimes feels a bit uncomfortable and ill-fitting, like my sexy, size 0, Nanette Lepore suit.
As a result, I find myself daily hatching plan after grand plan to revive my flagging spirits and welting career. This week, I was in need of a little instant gratification, hence my launch into the world of fashion re-sell.
It is ironic, how the tables have finally turned. In the not so distant past, “instant gratification” for me and my NYC diva chums, meant a spend binge in Soho (Anthropologie, anyone?), followed by over-priced, Earl Grey martinis at Pegu on West Broadway. Of course, we would weep for days after, racked with guilt at the money we’d spent.
I’ll have to phone my friend, who is now a “Happy Housewife and Mum of Two” living in Dubai, and see if she remembers these times.
Our tiny apartments were on opposite sides of Washington Square Park, and routinely, one or the other of us would make that mad dash through the Washington Square Arch, shopping bag in hand, frantically buzzing ourselves into the other’s building, to ultimately bang on the door and declare: “Look what I’ve done!” confessing and revealing the evidence.
“You paid how much!?” the other would respond in both disbelief and awe. But then, sensing the other’s desperate need for forgiveness and absolution, here came the salve: “Well, it is gorgeous. And you do deserve it. In fact, you’ve earned it!”
The remedy also resembled our Anglo-Catholic backgrounds: “Forgive yourself. Give something away to charity, have a few Bloody Marys and a Cosmo.”
Those were the days. Crazy, madcap, Manhattan days. It was dazzling, but it was also cold, brutal and harsh.
As I stood in Ella’s shop, examining each bit of clothing with her, it was like flipping through the pages of a book. Turning over the leaves of my single girl, Manhattan life storybook.
It broke my heart to let go of some of these things, like that Nanette Lepore suit. I actually saved up, and lost weight for that one! “It is sooo tiny!” Ella squealed. “Yes, sweetie, I was thin, thin, thin,” I explained. Then, suddenly, a realization: “Thin, and unhappy.” And, I was.
In that life, there were of course some truly magical moments, but it occurred to me, as I ran my hands over my luscious, lipstick red, Audrey Hepburn-esque, winter coat, with its stunning grey fur trim, that these clothes were in fact my security blankets in an uncertain and lonely world; my anchors in often troubled waters.
Releasing them now, was utterly liberating. Letting go of that chapter of my life completely. I left Ella’s shop with a spring in my step, and a much lighter load.