I am having a common predicament this morning. I sit on my floor contemplating which part of the day to dress myself for. My options: the hot and sunny morning, the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm, or the chilly evening. This blank staring at the closet usually lasts for about five minutes. Packing for my move/indefinite visit to Colombia was a struggle. And, when I say struggle, I mean literally laying on my Chicago bedroom floor pouting and groaning for hours until my generous (or annoyed) friends helped me pull my life together and begin placing clothing items into piles of “yes”, “no”, and “maybe.” I lived in the same apartment for almost five years and had accumulated an enormous and diverse clothing collection overflowing from two (and a half) closets. When it came down to the “final elimination round” of stuffing my bag, my helpers oftentimes looked at my choices with a raised eyebrow and a valid question of practicality.
Now, I look at my clothes every single day and (despite the weather fluctuation struggle) I am completely satisfied with my seemingly questionable clothing choices.
All (okay, maybe 90%) of items I brought tell a story. The romper from my favorite vintage store in Michigan. The old MSU tee-shirt from my mom’s University days. The purple scarf I found in Mexico. The ill-fitting gray sweatshirt my roommate left behind. The red tights I acquired after too much wine and not enough clothing on a night out in Australia. Each item in my closet I can probably talk about for a good five minutes; however, the shockingly yellow cardigan wins. It is hands down my favorite item of clothing.
My friends know this cardigan well (and probably hate it!) but not many know the story behind it. At the end of my studies in Melbourne, I was completely sick of my wardrobe. I was moving out of the dorms and beginning travels around Australia/Asia/New Zealand. After seven months, I was bored with my selection. With no money to buy new additions, I tried to mix and match as much as humanly possible…. until my Australian friend Rachael rescued me. Not only did she invite me to stay at her house until my trip and hook me up with a (slightly black-market) Yellow Fever vaccine in her kitchen, she saved my wardrobe. Rachael was cleaning out her closet and I was the happy recipient of her leftovers. I acquired maybe about ten items, but I just about salivated when I was handed the sweater.
The sweater saved my life trekking in Thailand after I greatly underestimated the nighttime temperatures in the mountains. It was my favorite companion on a road trip around the south island of New Zealand. The sweater was a staple in my Chicago wardrobe (lost and resurfaced at friend’s houses many times). It went skiing with me in Vancouver, dancing in Mexico, and was one (of many) layers in Moscow. Now, my sweater is happily in Colombia and recently garnered a slew of compliments at el Museo de Arte Moderno.
I believe it has a long life ahead of itself (with a few more anticipated button repairs). My plan is to wear it until it unravels… or the number of Colombian treats catch up to my waistline. As much as I love my shopping splurges at BCBG or Zara, I realized since I’ve been here how much more I prefer the story than the brand behind the item. Now, I guess I’ll throw the sweater into my purse for the imminent evening chill with a smile.