The Painter’s Canvas
My husband stood next to me. The owner of the fancy women’s store stood slightly behind me. We all three stared at the full-length mirror, assessing the pants I’d tried on. Tight-fitting, boldly-colored pants. The owner leaned close. “Enjoy your body as long as you can,” she whispered in my ear.
I thought two things.
One: what is she talking about—I’ll always look like this (I was wrong).
Second, am I enjoying my body? I thought I was deciding whether I liked these pants.
Walking down the sidewalk, I started when a slight, grey-haired lady ran up to me. Gushing, she said, “You young women with the way you dress! Someone is going to jump out of the bushes and rape you!”
I was not young. Unless you call over 50 young.
I glanced down at my outfit. I’d put it together because I liked the shape it gave me, kind of like a pencil. Long-sleeved grey tee tucked into a high-waisted, slim black skirt. When I’d added the black tee-strap heels to the black tights, it did seem somewhat dramatic: tall and lean. But not a smidgen of skin in sight.
When she said it, I thought two things: men don’t rape based on the way a woman dresses. And who on earth would think this outfit was put together for its effect on men?
“Shouldn’t they at least match?” my editor objected, referring to the pink faux fur jacket and red ball cap I had my character don. Worn with her silver lame pants but with a simple white camp shirt so it wouldn’t be too sexed up. “Even in the context of this slightly quirky character,” my editor writes, “shouldn’t they at least match?”
I’d only given my character what I myself would wear.
I add a black sleeveless top to the mustard pants. Over the top I add a black cropped jacket, unstructured, and finish it off with a necklace of a black straw flower. What comes next is crucial. I forgo the black platform sandals and, instead, add my red and black “snakeskin” cowboy boots, pointed toe. We are going to a luncheon at the Peabody Hotel featuring the mayor from New Orleans. I want to bring a bit of Memphis with me to the gathering, hence the boots. When I walk through the famous lobby, a young woman says, “It’s so nice to see someone styling around here.” I am inordinately pleased.
Like a painter with a palette, I scan the closet and choose what jumps out at me—would that work together? I give it a whirl; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to tweak it . . . or start all over.
Some artists work in oils, some take simple ingredients and create amazing dishes. In the mornings, clothes are my chosen medium. Like all artists, I appreciate it when folks like my work. I am also misunderstood (see old lady) which can make me irritable (see earlier blog on “Doctor, my ass.”) Some folks just don’t share my taste (see editor above) and some consider my work ”shallow.” But every day I wake up, I am a blank canvass I get to paint. How can I not enjoy that?
here’s to creative synthesis . . .