So, I seem to be a little stuck on this autumn theme, but the colorful Virginia foliage leaves me with no choice. This time, though, I want to talk about clothing; a good old-fashioned girl natter about what to wear. So, if you're on your moral high horse and you need to read about something deep, well, you can either dismount or canter yourself off to some more socially and politically relevant discussion.
Phew! Glad they're gone!
Does anyone else get VERY excited about getting out the winter boots? the woolly tights? the sweaters (jumpers, if you will) and the layering shirts? fishnets and sexy high-heels? Cozy skirts, sweater dresses, thick trousers, with all the accessories to match? My guest room (or "Abby's Room" as it's often called, although the cat prefers "Percy's Room") has been the scene of a particularly frenzied two weeks of clothing sorting, trying-on and general reveling over. This, of course, resulted in our guest room being uninhabitable by anyone (except Percy, who loves to shed his white fur on black clothing through hours of endless lounging). I apologize to those who may have needed a place to stay in the interim, but I am way too far into my favorite clothing season to pay attention to what anyone else may need.
I've finally put the clothing away, happily stowing the garments in the two closets and two dressers they now fill (that doesn't include the summer clothes stored in the attic, all folded and ready to pop out amid my gleeful cries of surprise in April). I do love the lighter dresses and their easy, more revealing cuts and fabrics, but nothing pleases me so much as a cozy winter outfit. The autumn is, by far, the most exciting fashion season, in my opinion, and it's only in the autumn that I realize how fashion-conscious, or fashion-centric, I've become. I love style, I love looking good and helping others do the same. I love clopping down a crowded street at a fast pace in a gorgeous pair of knee-high boots and a fitted jacket, seeing my breath in front of me, perhaps kicking a dead leaf or two and looking at what the other women are wearing this year. I love being in, but adore keeping my own style.
I go to my closet and run a hand over the pieces in there. Sweaters, wool, maybe some thick cotton. I get to the dresses and feel that sweater dress I hunted down late last year, just before moving from Paris: brown, with a big round neck and an A-line flair, ending just above the knees. Perfectly form-fitting, yet loose enough to avoid any unsightly bulges. I remember last year's intense hunt at Place d'Italie with Miss C., trying so hard to find her the perfect sweater dress, feeling so excited about it. I watched her try them on, one dress after another and envied her. That day, I found a pair of electric blue elbow-length gloves that I adored, but couldn't afford. Two months later, when I finally had enough money in the bank, I bought the last pair in all of Paris, two sizes too big. Those have since gone to my mother, whose hands look like they were made for them (no, not the other way around!!). But even that brings me immense pleasure. Seeing a purchase of mine look good on someone else. Seeing my mother's eyes brighten as she tries on my bright red dress in preparation for a wedding, flattering her perfectly and sparkling beautifully; all these things bring me pleasure.
Seeing Miss C. in the dress she finally ended up getting (not that day, I'm afraid), looking so cozy and happy simply by putting on an article of clothing, makes me understand that there's more to it than covering up, than being warm through the cold months. I remember that her inspiration to buy a dress had come when she had seen her friend wearing an oversized, thick warm, elegantly casual sweater and I remember her envy. I know it, because every year, my longest-term friend in the world gives me the exact same envy: her long dark hair falling in a sheet over her structured creamy winter coat. Her little white beret, pulled onto her head, jauntily, teasing, daring the sky to release some rare Paris snow. It's not jealousy of her good looks, although she is beautiful. It's nothing so base as that.
When I see someone thus fashionably wrapped up, I envy their comfort and their beauty, yes, but above all, I feel their coziness, the safe, warm, sitting-in-front-of-the-fire aura that they emit. I see the smoke rising from the chimney and the snow newly fallen, or the crisp, clean smell of leaves, red and yellow and orange on the ground as I kick them with my brown knee-high leather boots, freshly awakened from their yearly hibernation.