For my 30th Birthday, I brought a killer dress.
I know that taste is subjective; but there’s no other way to describe it. This dress totally rocks.
It might not be bang on trend as I couldn’t tell you what’s strutting along the catwalk and have never quite got into Vogue; but, it makes me feel a million dollars, and has reminded me of something that gets lost behind the catwalk debate and the size zero phenomenon –
In my recovery, fashion and fabrics were an unexpected friend; even when I wasn’t that comfortable in my own skin.
You could chart my illness in relation to the contents of my wardrobe. In the better spells, it was well looked after and neatly hung; when things were going badly, anything that could be tightly belted and easily washed, went. There is little point in making an effort when everything ends up spattered in sick; and it is impossible to find anything that stays where it’s meant to stay.
Clothes were functional, not fun; and looking good was immaterial, if not impossible. Feeling good? Who cared.
One day, a few years ago, my Mum took me to a new clothes shop in town. After walking around for months in nondescript outfits that were ‘gifts’ or relics from my teenage years, she was adamant that some ‘nice clothes’ would make me feel better, even if they didn’t quite fit. Whilst I remained sceptical and sure that I didn’t deserve them, “no” was not an option; and, with a little (lot of) coercion, I finally gave in.
Whenever I wear the cream cotton shirt dress that we brought that day, which folds softly around my skin and makes me walk with my head a little higher, I understand what she was trying to do -
The inside often informs the outside, but sometimes, it also works the other way round.
So, whilst I remain adamant that a book should never be judged by its cover and appearances are certainly not everything, I also appreciate that dressing down didn’t really help; and, in the past few years, me and my new clothes have taken a few vital steps together -
Like the pretty blue pyjamas that were a present from me – to myself – to help me sleep through the nights when I was determined to stop bingeing.
Or the brown leather jacket that exactly matched the image in my head and gives me a boost when I’m feeling self-conscious or a little insecure.
The shimmery sparkly skirt that I can accept complements on behalf of, even though I’d argue the point if they were made about me.
The pin-striped suit that helps me stand tall when I’m feeling small at work. The delicate heels that make me feel like a woman when my body seems to let me down. The neat handbags that I couldn’t use when I was hauling around bags of food. The floaty silk skirt that I could afford when I stopped spending a fortune on food. The ribbon-tied bridesmaids dress that made me feel like a princess for a day…
I know that sizes are hard; and I’m not great with mirrors.
I get that dressing up can seem pretty pointless; and there’s no point in pretending –
But sometimes, if I concentrate on enjoying what I’m wearing, then it seems easier, somehow, to be kinder to what’s underneath….
Because there’s nothing like a killer dress to make you feel like a million dollars -
And I think it might be possible for fashion to help me – and my body – to gradually become friends.