Do clothes maketh the girl? // Confessions of a clothing chameleon…

You know that saying, the clothes make the man?  It’s an interesting one, and I think it goes back to Roman times, or is possibly biblical… but then the inimitable Shakespeare used it in Hamlet so it must be true. Mark Twain even turned it into a famous quote: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
I personally believe that clothes can make the man (or woman), and they can make him or her feel confident, professional, and even a bit sexier depending on the occasion.
They can also make you feel dowdy, uncomfortable (USUALLY SHOES), and worst of all, invisible.
It’s strange how the things you wear on your back can make you feel like a different person in your head.


For example, yesterday I was wearing a pair of scruffy, frayed jeans that had a little bit of metal chain going on near the belt loops, and a Ramones t-shirt. As a consequence, I spent the day strutting around as if I was Debbie Harry, circa 1981, chewing gum like a New York hooker with an attitude that said ‘fuck with me… and it’ll be the last, but the best damn fuck you’ve ever had’.
Metal jeans girl takes no shit. She’d screw her way relentlessly to the top like Madonna did, but without the embarrassing dodgy cockney husband/lady of the manor episode. She eats as many Krispy Kremes as she likes, knowing the wild, out of control sex she’ll have later that night will burn them all off. Women hate her but secretly want to be her, men are scared yet lustfully fascinated by her, she is a maelstrom of excitement and danger pulling you into a riptide of chaos from which you may never escape. Not that you’d want to escape, it’s THAT good.

By comparison, today I’m wearing a completely mainstream cardigan.
In a haunting shade of beige.

It tells the world at large that I occasionally tut while watching human interest stories on the news, and that I’ve unsuccessfully attempted Sudoku at least once.
Mainstream cardigan girl once admired an unusual teapot on The Antiques Roadshow. She doesn’t judge people who hang horse brasses round their fireplace, and is on first name terms with Barbara in the newsagents. She sometimes makes large batches of food to intentionally freeze some for a later date. Men assume she likes foreign language films and abhors fellatio. Women see her as no threat. She’s more or less invisible. That’s how she likes it though, as it gives her more time to hide in the corner reading Sylvia Plath.

I do honestly feel like a different person. Even my Twitter behaviour is markedly changed. I was a gobby, loud pain in the ass yesterday and my tweet count was ridiculous. Today up until this point, I’ve barely said a peep on there.
This cardigan is robbing me of my personality mojo.
So while ensconced in my beige misery I was thinking…rather than a capsule wardrobe, should we be investing in a chameleon wardrobe? An outfit for all the different people you WANT to be, rather than the person you, or others think you are? Or do we already execute this to some degree?

We all go through phases in youth of copying the way certain popstars and actors dress.
My Laurence Olivier period of 1992 was a high point for me and was, I believe, the reason I won the ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ Oscar for my part in the anti-Nazi league rally I marched in during that year. Obviously I couldn’t attend the ceremony itself. Robocop very kindly accepted the little golden statuette on my behalf… you know what? I’m starting to think this might have been a dream I had.
Let’s back to my original point.

Do we copy these people because we love their music, acting, or wisdom? That we wish to blend like a sheep into some sort of obedient fan army? Or is it more that we envy their success and think that by aping them, we’ll achieve the same kind of glory.
Hello? I’m asking you.

So with this in mind, and advice from fash mags and personal shoppers… why not dress with the sole intention of becoming someone you currently are not?
If clothes really do make you, could they be directly responsible for your success, or failure? Are the choices we’ve made for our wardrobes the reason why we’ve either taken huge bites out of life or nibbled away gracefully at the side?
Because it’s the easiest explanation for me personally, I’m going to say yes.
I’m also intending to sue almost every major high street chain for my current lack of disposable income. All these years I’ve been blaming my lack of intelligence, training, skills, and middle ear trouble on my successive failures, when I should have been blaming my CLOTHING.
Yes, now that I think about it rationally, I’ve spent too much time towing the mainstream line (great song lyric, you’re welcome) when I should have been dressing like a tiger. Grrr!
No, not literally.

My chain jeans are hanging outside drying painfully slowly in the damp air, but by god I’ll have them on tomorrow, so watch it world! I’m gonna spit in your face, stamp on your shoes, and erm, make a real nuisance of myself.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to change into something a tiny bit less comfortable and a little more chaotic. I’ll leave you to wonder what kind of woman I’ll be when I return.

(Note: Half an hour after changing my clothes, I attempted to make a prank phone call, recorded myself doing it and posted it on Twitter. See?? POINT PROVEN.)


  • Comments

  • avatar

    Do you you know 90% of people who wear Ramones T Shirts have never actually heard a Ramones song

    • avatar

      I know, it’s a disgrace. Trust me when I tell you I am not one of those people, I’ve been listening to them since I was 13, saw them live, and was lucky enough to meet them.
      Rest easy. 😉

  • avatar
    John McDonagh

    Once again – PURE GENIUS.
    I’m beginning to think that you’re wasted doing this.
    Well not wasted (cos it’s blinding – I love reading these now.)
    I can’t help thinking that you should be given some sort of
    Government role. A brand new role. Something like ‘The
    Minister For Common Sense.’ You’re right – what you wear dictates what
    sort of mood you’ll be in or day you’ll have. We don’t give enough thought
    to what we throw on sometimes and so, because of your article, my next
    purchase is gonna be mental. Thank you. xx

    • avatar

      From someone who writes like you, this is high praise indeed. Thank you Johnny x

    • avatar

      Wasted doing this? WASTED DOING THIS?! I’ll have you know we pay Chrissy a tidy sum for her efforts and she gets sent freebies on a daily basis, as well as her own personal butler to shine her shoes and wipe her arse. Oh no wait. We don’t do that. Shit. Okay then. As you were!

  • avatar
    Trina Kornbau

    It is good post ! I simply love’d this !

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