To Be Frank Magazine- July 2015
Coming from a long lineage of cheap bastards, clothes were nothing more than a mere necessity; seen almost insignificantly as just items of fabric that you would wear on your back for etiquettes sake. Never were we concerned about the colour, style or even quality of something we had hanging in the closet- if what you wore agreed with the weather, then in our household you wore it correctly.
Not too long ago I rummaged through the same closet that I’ve always had and found myself wondrously lost in a forgotten nostalgia; laughing reminiscently at the pieces of clothing I had re-discovered again, and even at times found myself somber towards to the memories attached. Many times did I think to myself while cleaning out the wardrobe ‘why did I have so many cargo shorts? I don’t remember being this into camouflage? I’m going to pretend that I saw only one pair of ripped flares, I don’t think even charity would want this’ -yet despite the embarrassing and somewhat easy process of packing bin bags of clothes for donations I stumbled upon little relics of history that will undoubtedly never be worn again yet somehow I still could not bring myself to throw them away. Although subtle, what we choose to wear has a large contributing factor to who we are or rather whom we want people to see- and like most things, our clothes whether new or old can tell a story.
One of the items salvaged from the heap of my awkward pubescent ‘fashion’ was this thin black hoodie that almost acted like my second skin when I was young. It was so thin that it provided no shelter of warmth or was even considered cool at the time- but despite its worn out wear and obvious low cost, at the time it was the cape to my superman. I could still smell the remnants of spilled budget beer and see the odd cigarette burn here and there on the sleeves.
Almost every Friday night like clockwork between the ages of fifteen and sixteen I would wait for my parents to fall asleep, quickly throw on the thin black hoodie, jump through the back windows and over the fence to cheekily join my friends in typical teenage mischief. Holding that hoodie in my hands again flooded my mind with so many reckless and innocent memories that I seemingly almost forgot had ever existed- we were all so poor and young and unable to really do anything genuinely rebellious, its incredible laughable looking back at the stupidity we would find ourselves doing. Sometimes we would go egg a strangers house for no apparent reason and other times we would make high prank phone calls to people we didn’t like all that much but more often or not we would just run a muck at a local park smoking stolen cigarettes from a someone’s parents and drink some sort of cheap alcohol that our teenage allowances would allow. Those sorts of memories are always tucked at the back of our heads and for some reason rarely re-visited- so finding that hoodie was like finding an artifact of who I was and more importantly gave evidence to how far I’ve come. Nuances like these that I never really appreciated now act as little landmarks of overlooked experiences, ones even today (after maturing out of an adolescent mindset) still manages to crinkle a wistful smile.
Clothes can be a haven of curiosity and if we allow it, it can trigger thoughts of previous impressions of our once upon a times. Whilst rummaging through my closet I also found other little things here and there that too reminded me of precious times. I found the expensive skinny jeans I bought new for my first date, the signed school shirt from my graduation, old low converse chucks given by an old girlfriend, my grandfathers old tattered blazer that seems to always be sweetly warm and most innocent of all an old red Mickey Mouse jumper that I wore religiously as a child. Sometimes indelible moments of the good old days can unintentionally become hazy in hustle and bustle of growing old so we keep them as hidden souvenirs such as our clothes-
Clothing nowadays has evolved into something that not only the large majority indulges in but also automatically becomes the indictor of ones identity- its something that surrounding folks will immediately label and judge you by. Deep down we all have a natural instinct to watch people and even go as far as to assume things about their lives- if someone wears shoes without socks that match their by rolled up pant cuffs its assumed they’re a hipster or for example if an individual wears tailored corporate clothes with some shiny accessories they’re more often or not assumed to be someone in business. There’s much skepticism towards the fashion industry, many branding it as pretentious and unnecessary but there’s something more to clothes if we dare open your eyes a little. Clothes have the ability to make a young girl feel pretty and in turn feel confident, it can make a naïve man feel worthy for his job interview, it can commemorate celebratory occasions, it can sometimes speak louder than words and it can have the power to elicit emotions, help one reflect on their life journey and most importantly keeps us attached to lost memories- the only real downside to clothes is when you hit twenty-one and you shamefully find more than one pair of flared jeans. Clothes can be art, can be a reminder, a self-esteem booster- it can be anything if we dare open our eyes and allow it.