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Tag Archives: alabama chanin

uniform

I’ve got a uniform, and it doesn’t vary much. I know what I wear at home — jeans or trousers, a black tee or a white shirt, and if it’s cold, a cashmere sweater or lofty scarf piled on top. Boots, sneakers, slides. The jewelry I wear most days of my life — a collection of gold bangles that usually gets added to once a year or so on the same wrist as my watch that was made in my birth year, diamond studs or gold hoops, my engagement ring from H., signet rings with both his and John Henry’s initials plus a ring with an S on it for Sissy on my other hand, my tiny gold locket with AM + HC engraved on it that I hardly ever take off.

I know what I wear when I’m onstage or going somewhere I have to be seen — usually a dressed up or rock and roll version of what I wear at home. Throw in some leather pants sometimes and a killer pair of probably much too high high heeled shoes or boots.

I have a pile of black dresses, white dresses, lounge-y linen pants, and a few pencil skirts. I like selvedge denim and a Breton sailor tee. I love my Alabama Chanin pieces. I’m mad for a great jacket and gorgeous shoes. I also like hats. I’m lucky — I’ve honed it down. I know who I am and what I want to look like. I like a formula for dressing because it saves me time. When it comes to clothing I like it to be, of course, beautiful and good looking, but I often think of the Guy Clark song “Stuff that Works,” when I’m shopping, which I do little of. My shopping is usually done from this laptop because I do know what works and I tend to buy the same things over and over. I’m simple.

I haven’t been so simple in the methodology for my life. I’ve jumped around from this thing to that and have tried some things on that didn’t fit me at all. But that is changing as well. I would like to have stuff that works for my soul too, a type of uniform, things that I know I can go to that make me feel good, put together, and able to handle whatever is thrown at me. I’ve found that a practice of meditation, at least once a day if not two or three times if I can get to it, is the denim and tee shirt of my spiritual core. Maybe that’s a cheesy allegory but I like to think of it that way. Fabric breathes and lives, after all. Denim is reliable and always fits, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable (especially when you’re breaking a new pair of jeans in), and tee is a comforting touch. The other parts of my spiritual uniform involve centering myself and saying little prayers, creating mantras when I need them, or picking up one of the devotional books I keep around (these are the soothing cashmere sweaters, I think). It all works to create a core that I try to push toward an unwavering strength — able to withstand hard traveling, bad washing machines, and the occasional grass stain or accidental step into a mud hole or smoky bar. Much like the stuff that works in my closet, this is the stuff that works for my soul, for my life, for creating as much goodness as I can gather.

Just as there is a lot of fast fashion, which helps no one, there is a lot of pseudo spirituality and wellness talk out there these days. I’m not going to disparage anything that works for anyone, but just as I know what kind of time and effort goes into making a garment by hand, I know that a commitment to emotional health takes a lot of time and effort too. And that’s okay. I’m almost forty-seven and am just now starting to feel comfortable in my own skin and comfortable with the things I know I want to put on it. I know my body and what looks good on it. Interestingly enough, that is parallel to becoming more at ease with what’s inside me and what I need to do to make the best of it. I’m beginning to know what my touchstones are, those things that get me through my days and allow for the recognition of joy. None of it has to be perfect, but figuring out what the best daily uniform for dealing our imperfections is part of life’s work.

I this read somewhere: The more you know, the less you need. May I continue to shed the extraneous and become simpler, simpler, simpler as I go. Imagine a life that isn’t beholden to stuff. Imagine a spirit that isn’t held down by baggage. Now that would be something…

Thank you for reading.

Much love and peace and happy Wednesday.

AM

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This photo has inspired me for a while now. I don’t remember where I saw it but when I ran across what is pretty much my ideal wardrobe/closet I snapped a screen shot and put it in a folder called “style” in my iPad because I am a nerd + I need all kinds of reminders not to complicate life. When I did my spring/summer/switch out the warm stuff for the cool stuff and closet clean out over the weekend, I was surprised at how little time it took. It used to be an all day process to go through everything, decide what to toss and what to keep, and what to tuck away in a storage box under the bed for a special occasion or some supposed fancy dress party that I never received an invitation to. Ugh. Who has the time or the energy? Not I, not anymore. These days, things are looking more and more like that photo. I have a uniform that works, and I like to stick to it. Maybe I’m getting older and am less interested in following trends or trying to keep up with fashion, but I suspect it has to do with finally learning what works and requiring simplicity in my life. I have enough complications — I certainly don’t need any transpiring in my closet.

What works? White shirts, denim, a black trouser be it drapey or leather, my old faithful military pantswell-cut blazers and tees, cashmere sweaters, scarves and ponchos to wrap up in, hats, and a few coats to tie it all together. And, of course, my weakness, a good shoe. Throw in my beloved Alabama Chanin pieces and I’m done.

I don’t necessarily think this post is about my clothes. I think it’s about my evolution from a person who had trouble, for awhile, sticking to the things that she knew worked to one who has finally figured out that putting on a perfect white button-up and a pair of well-fitting jeans is like knowing that running a Les Paul Jr. through a DynaComp and Pro Junior provides sweetness + maximum whomp = no muss no fuss.  It’s classic and always gets the job done better than pretty much any other formula, just like anything when it gets right down to it.

And that’s my thought for the day. To quote James Brown, “It might sound corny but it’s heavy.” For a lover of fashion like me, it certainly is.

Happy Monday, Y’all.

AM

PS – I still have my sartorial fantasies, but I’m no longer hoarding twenty-five caftans and maybe a turban or two in hopes that I’ll be channeling Talitha Getty on a Moroccan rooftop on my next vacation. Now, I only have four or five 🙂 Ta.

Also, thank you Linda V Wright for reminding on me on Instagram how much I do love my white shirts yesterday. And for inspiring me to possibly start monogramming them. Ha!

 

makeshift may 13, 2014

ImageHe walked in looking for the cigar bar that used to occupy the space where I sat just inside the door, right at the window, making my quilting stitches. He seemed confused. He asked Carrie, who manages lf8, where it had gone. She did her best to direct him toward the new locale for the stenchy establishment, and as he turned to walk out he took a quick look around the shop and at us and said, “so what is this now, woman’s work?”

Carrie and I both laughed and said yes, we supposed it was.

Woman’s work. Work for a woman.

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I don’t know about y’all, but I work pretty hard and spend very little time being pampered or sitting on my tuffet eating truffles. And the same goes for every woman I know. I’ve got a four-year-old son that has made me physically stronger than I’ve ever been before in my life, and I’m a singer/songwriter, so that means I’ve spent years throwing instruments around and have moved my share of amplifiers and cases, and have even loaded a van or two. I may not look like much but I’m no delicate flower. Yes, my hands are nimble. I can make nice, even stitches. But they can also wrap around the neck of a guitar, wield a hammer or wrench when they need to, be firm guides for my little guy, or solid sisters for my friends.

They do woman’s work all the time.

I suppose I could have been mistaken for someone not quite so dimensional, as I sat in the pretty blue chair that Lisa Fox, proprietress of lf8, put in the window for me to sit in while I worked the red stitches into the turquoise Alabama Chanin DIY coat kit. The cigar-hunting man didn’t know that I was finding rhythm in my labor of supposedly feminine art as I loved my thread and worked it in and out like I was taught to do by previous generations of women.  Women who did woman’s work.  He didn’t know that I was finding songs, poetry, and most importantly, quite possibly, a few non-gender specific thoughts there. But I was quiet as I sat and sewed. I was serene. I was being seen and not heard.

Woman’s work. Work for a woman. I could make the woman’s work list right now but I’m not going to. I’m just going to shake my head, smile, and know exactly what a woman’s work is as I remember that sometimes it’s just when you think you’re getting somewhere that someone comes up and wants to blow smoke.