Which clothes to bring to uni? Which clothes to pack that will inevitably end up in a heap on the floor of your wardrobe once term properly starts and you can no longer be bothered to use hangers? When Shakespeare wrote “to be or not to be, that is the question”, I think what he really meant is “to wear or not wear, that is the question”. It may seem silly but I consider choosing which outfits to bring each term akin to choosing which child to love best.
Now I’m going to preface this reasoning with the admission that the top I’m using as my example was not actually bought by me, nor was it technically intended for me.
My lovely mother, my lovely, generous, mother bought it for…herself. However, upon reflection (otherwise known as me claiming it as soon as I saw it in her wardrobe and wearing it every night-out), it was kindly donated to me, and I think we can all agree it fell into the correct hands.
This top is special. It’s entirely glittery, with three stripes – orange, blue and pink (think a sort of disco neapolitan ice cream). It’s also from the nineties, it’s seen dance floors new and old. The insufferable cool points I awarded myself for wearing this top to a nineties night (“I’m so authentic!”) or the fact it fits just perfectly are not the reasons why I find this top so meaningful. This top is always the correct night-out choice. It looks good with jeans, skirts and shorts. But most of all, it makes me feel confident. It makes me want to dance and be free – it makes me feel cool, ok?! And to be soppy for a moment away from home at this (terrifying) university, it reminds me of my mam.
I think there is something truly unique about the feeling of putting on a piece of clothing and just feeling utterly, undeniably yourself. Clothes become synonymous with our identities – material extensions of our inner selves. Think of the people in your life and I bet you think of them in that one certain, purely them outfit. When I think of my mam, I think of green scarves and black Doc Martens; my friend Georgia reminds me of glamourous, business woman blazers and silky dresses. And for me, well, I like to think in their mind’s eye I’m wearing my beloved, sparkly top.
Clothes are not just comfortable in the physical sense of the word (and often they’re not at all – ‘suffer for fashion’ and all that nonsense), they’re a source of comfort because they’re a layer of our selfhood we can wear as a badge when we want to shout: ‘This is me!’. But they’re also something we can swaddle ourselves in when we’re in scary, new places. Dancing through the streets of Oxford in my ‘utterly me’ top, I feel unstoppable. And don’t we all want to feel like that?
Image credit: Freya Buckley.