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.