At Spring, Considering Fashion and the Self in Bloom
“Did you leave behind you your love, my heart, and miss peace through all your days?
And is the path you followed lost and forgotten, making your return hopeless?
I go roaming listening to brooks' babble, to the rustle of leaves.
And it seems to me that I shall find the way, that reaches the land of lost love
beyond the evening stars.”
― Rabindranath Tagore, The Cycle of Spring
More than two years ago, I started this website to write about clothes. I was intrigued, curious, really, as to how and why we got to a place where fashion came to connote the superficial, the commercial, the material, when it is really so much more. So, I set out to slowly articulate a definition of fashion that felt more relevant to me, more fundamentally true: fashion as substantive and unconsumable. Fashion as spiritual.
In the last months, despite my extended silence here, for which I am sorry, my thinking on fashion began to organically fuse with spiritual work I was doing on Self. Not the little self, the one who wants and wears to heal wounds, but the Self, the one who dresses to connect with spirit. With the infinite. And so, I have become fascinated with this question: how can we use fashion to access, understand, and nourish our deepest, highest Self?
At spring, when all life burgeons, I thought it fitting to reflect on how fashion has helped me in my own personal flowering. Spring provides a wonderful metaphor for change. A myriad of subtle shifts occur, often without us even being aware, and then suddenly, there are leaves on trees and buds in bloom. So too, I think, is the relationship with Self. A constant work in progress, one of countless small changes, and then at once, magically, a blossoming.
Here are three ways fashion helps me to be, and to become, my Self.
ONE | I use clothes to take up space
I could write a tome on the multitudinous ways in which I have deployed shrinking and playing small through my life out of fear of stepping into my own power, out of a misunderstanding of what power really is. I will not write said tome, but instead will say this: when my voice was still developing, while I was still practicing the art of being myself and standing firm in the knowledge of who I am, I began using my clothes to take up space. Clothes had a certain power, but a softer one. Fashion, then, became a tool I used to navigate visibility, comfortably, on my own terms, in my own way. My clothes allowed me to strike the delicate balance I was seeking: to take up space, to be acknowledged, without having to shout “look at me.” My clothes, in the words of Alber Elbaz, allowed me to whisper, not to scream. Slowly, both my voice and my comfortability with occupying space grew. Much of that evolution, I owe to my clothes.
TWO | I am my own muse
I once thought that fashion existed outside me. I’d be inspired to get dressed by where I was living or traveling, or who I was with, or what I was doing. I would wait for inspiration to visit me in the form of some external feeling or force. Yes, these are still powerful sources of emotion and desire, and they no doubt still act upon me. But in my daily life, I no longer search for external sources of inspiration. Instead, I am my own muse, which is to say, I inspire myself and am inspired by myself. Why wait for anything or anyone else to intervene on my behalf? To be one’s own muse is really a spiritual practice—it is to be continuously connected to essence and to know that what I seek is already within me.
THREE | Through fashion, I indulge in beauty and joy
What is the role of beauty and joy in the human experience? In the face of so much darkness in the world, is it valid to pursue things that are beautiful, things that bring us joy? For too long, I trivialized beauty, casting it to the realm of the superficial and the indulgent. But beauty isn’t trivial. Far from it. It is, in fact, a fundamental need of human beings, something our spirit desires to rejoice in as much as we seek truth or fairness or order. Now, instead of judging myself for seeking the beautiful, I use my relationship with fashion to luxuriate in beauty. I use it to fill myself up. Seen in this light, the pursuit of beauty is soul food—nourishment for spirit, something I do keep my vessel full. The vessel from which I then give.
And so, the work of unraveling the threads that make up fashion, and weaving together a new narrative continues. And although along this journey— to write, to put it out there, to take up space, to be seen, to be heard—I have stumbled countless times, this work remains vitally important to my soul. So, I will continue. You can expect more regular posts here, as well as visual work accompanying this writing on instagram. Sending love and light and gratitude for you. xx, n