A very long time ago I began my grown-up life as a high school English teacher. I loved literature (I still do) and I believed it had a humanizing effect on people (I still do). I was passionate about my work, but anybody who has spent time in a high school English class knows that it falls somewhat short of the ideal, and so after a few years of teaching, I threw in the towel.
Eventually, by a circuitous route, I wound up creating and owning two fashion boutiques. My younger self would have been astonished to see how gratifying I find this work. She would have felt that there was something shallow, indeed reprehensible, about catering to women’s love and need for fashion. I have had some difficulty justifying it even to myself. But then I happened on this wonderful little book, The Thoughtful Dresser, by Linda Grant, a prize-winning British novelist, who deftly explores the meaning that fashion has in a woman’s life. I could list here dozens of quotes from the book because I have highlighted at least that many, but let me address my younger self with this line that I found in the opening chapter,
“...it is in the pleasure that we take in clothes that we are at our most elementally human….There are no known societies who do not adorn the human body, whether with clothing, jewelry, or tattoos. It’s a given about the human race.”
More: “I consider it to be absolutely normal to care deeply about what we wear, and detest the puritan moralists who affect to despise fashion and those who love it. “