The Story Takes Form

Fashion Anxiety


Do men have nightmares about deciding what to wear?

This is a constant anxiety dream for me and I had another one last night. It involved a bunch of girlfriends all trying to get ready for some ball or dance or something and rooting around in my magical closet for vintage dresses. (You wouldn’t believe my collection. The Pucci patterns were amazing.)

This seems like a close cousin to the classic “naked in public” dream. Always there is urgency and people waiting for me and I am frantically dressing and undressing, tearing through my drawers in search of the perfect outfit. Does it make me a terribly shallow person that my nightmares involve not war or hunger but “the perfect outfit”? Is fashion my secret, superficial heart? Or a symbol for some deeper anxiety?

As I was ironing a shirt this morning, running late for work, as usual, I caught myself humming the song from Disney's Cinderella where the mice are pitching in to create a ballgown from scraps: hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry got to help our Cinderelly, got no time to dilly dally... The dark climax of that movie is when the stepmother says she can come to the ball, if only she had a dress to wear. I also remember much panic and intrigue about having clean white gloves in Little Women. In Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge, a fashion faux pas is like the central conflict of the story. And what about The Scarlett Letter? I bet there's lots of examples of fashion anxiety as a symbol in literature. So maybe I'm not spiritually corrupt. But does it apply only to women characters?


The comments to this entry are closed.