Dress – I’m beginning to think it’s a like a code, and I think I might have cracked it.
Either I currently look so ridiculous that I’m aware of getting a lot of looks, or I’m getting them because I’m finally learning to make my clothes work for me.
So why do we bother making such an effort: why invest time in attempting to put together something that pleases us? Why don’t we all simply just wear the same, utilitarian clothes, keeping costs down and probably being more comfortable, at least on occasion?
Well, obviously the question of attracting a mate comes into it – although the success of this aim doesn’t suddenly stop people making a big effort with their look.
But then there’s also what could be described as the desire for individualism; to stand out in a crowd.
Let’s take a step back in time to 1982, to an institutionally bland room at Leicester Polytechnic, undistinguishable from any other in a block that had been thrown up a decade or so earlier.
We were working on a scene from August Strindberg’s dour Scandinavian drama, The Father, where the nurse has to con the captain to don the straitjacket.
I still remember how powerful it was and how a fellow student (amazing – I can remember that it was lanky, blonde Gary from Manchester) and I got right beneath the skin of the thing in the sort of way that left us emotionally drained afterward.
Our tutor was a man called Tony Yates, a great actor trainer. I remember how he told us all: “You’re gods, all of you; because you have the power to create. Never forget that.”
But if the act of bringing words on a page to life is one of creation, then how much more is the act of creation that we all, to some degree engage in – the act of creating the self that we choose to present to the world – the work of ourselves as gods?
A few days ago, I mentioned self-awareness.
Is it a case that the more conscious the act of self-creation, the higher the level of self-awareness?
Take Marilyn Manson, for instance. You might not like him, but he’s set out with a very specific aim of creating himself for himself – and to piss off the establishment – and been rather successful in terms of achieving those aims. How many other people achieve such a distinctive and successful self-creation as Manson?
And dress, of course, is part of the process. Perhaps too, self-awareness brings with it confidence – and confidence is also something, like clothes, that attracts people's attention.
Maybe the dress code is really just a question of knowing thine own self and then being true to it?