Kept for Best

Thursday 12 March 2020

I've had a resurgence in creativity lately and it's shown up in a place I hadn't really expected it to.

It hasn't appeared in my notebook, or on the screen of my laptop. It hasn't suddenly shown itself in my camera lens and it isn't hiding in the scrap box of craft material under my bed.

Instead, I've found it nestled in my wardrobe.

How it found room in there to set up camp I'm not sure, but there it is, at home in between the "what-was-I-thinking" jumpsuit, the "when-nothing-else-will-do" midi dress, and the "I-just-can't-throw-it-out" polka dot t-shirt.

They do say abundance breeds abundance, and in this case, it certainly seems true. My more than abundant wardrobe has left me feeling more creative than I have in a long time.

So what brought all this on?

Well, at the beginning of the year I gave up buying brand new clothes, and while that still means I can pootle away in a charity shop to my heart's content, or scroll through eBay like it's the ASOS boxing day sale, it has made me so much more mindful of my clothes.

The impact they have on the world, and on me.

On my mood, my attitude to the day, and my sense of self.

I have always loved clothes and fashion and style. 

When I was in college I would meticulously plan out my outfits for the week, never wanting to wear the exact same thing twice within a month and priding myself on not wearing the same thing as everyone else.

At 16 I had an enviable sense of style. Vintage dresses, charity shop finds, and a knowledge that the best chunky knitwear was to be found in the back to school section of Boyes (please PLEASE comment if you know what a Boyes is!).

Of course, I'd shop the highstreet to - but my favourite section of TopShop or Zara was always the corner of the sale, where items were reduced, not because the season was over, but because nobody else wanted them.

In so many ways I had no idea who I was at 16, but in my wardrobe I did.

And then I went to uni in a small town, and getting dressed up every day just didn't seem to appeal. For a start, doing a theatre degree, you never knew how long you would end up rolling around on the floor for on any given day. And while the best part of any night out, would nearly always be getting ready, I'd never had to apply my sense of style to a night club before. And so, fast fashion under £25 dresses became a staple. It was all my budget and the limited high street would allow.

At the time it hardly mattered, maybe my wardrobe was losing it's identity a bit, but mine was beginning to form more solidly than it ever had before, and of course, I was of the naive undergraduate belief that once I left uni and got a job, then I'd look like Anne Hathaway at the end of The Devil Wears Prada.

But that didn't happen.

I might have been working from practically the moment I graduated, but my wage didn't really cover a covetable wardrobe.

More than that, once my degree was hung on the wall, my sense of self took a hit (as long term readers will be well aware) and by the time it was back, I'd put weight on, got older, and had no idea where to begin with curating a wardrobe that fit me and my life - both physically and emotionally.

I should clarify that in all of this time, I have still had and worn nice clothes, I've just never felt the same sense of self from them that I did when I was younger.

So now here I am nearly 30, with a wardrobe chock full of clothes that I've amassed over the years. Dresses I love,  things my mum has made me, and things that I bought hoping that this would be it... this would be my style. Successful and unsuccessful purchases alike there they sit, waiting to be told who I am.

You would think that having all these clothes that had never felt right, and putting myself on a shopping ban would leave me feeling more without style than ever but suddenly I'm looking at my clothes differently.

They are no longer garments waiting for me to suit them, but tools at my disposable.

And that is why my creativity has chosen my wardrobe as it's camping ground.

I've posed my creativity a challenge, with clear rules and a purpose and it's getting to work.

What can we do with the clothes that I've got, and how do they reflect who I am?

I've also given my creativity the space, time and energy it needs to thrive. Dedicating some time each day into choosing an outfit and being ok with there being some mishaps along the way.

And if you thought all this, simply means that some things in my wardrobe are seeing the light of day for the first time in a long time you couldn't be more wrong.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like my outfits compliment who I am, not prevent or dictate.

I go into the world feeling like I'm making a statement that I am creative, and in doing so, I have started feeling and acting more creatively every day. Creativity, even when it's coming from an unexpected place, breeds creativity.

And not only that but I've learnt a huge lesson about how my creativity responds to a set of rules and limitations, perhaps more so than it does to a deadline  - something I've been struggling with when it comes to writing.

When it comes to creativity it is worth paying attention to where it is showing up and why. What is it your creativity is responding to? Is it a challenge? Quiet time? Is it because you're somewhere new doing something new? Is it because it has to?

Often, we feel like our creativity showing up anywhere other than where we feel it should is a distraction. If you're a writer you might feel guilty about spending too much time stitching. If you're a stitcher you might feel you're procrastinating by writing. But there's no need to only take your creativity out and wear it on a special occasion, keeping it for best. Your creativity, like a good dress, doesn't have to be stored away for certain seasons. Bring it out the closet as much as you can, try it on with new things, match it up with unusual combinations. Wear your creativity to dinner, to the shops, or just to the sofa. Because even if you have a wardrobe malfunction, you'll have learnt something. And I guarantee that the lesson will be more valuable, and true than just 'blue and green should never be seen' x

ps. just to put you all at ease I am not dressing as I did at 16 - wonky fake ugg boots might have been my style then (paired with a silk dress from Zara that was actually a top) but they certainly aren't now!

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