Emily’s Meta-Primer #1: A is for Adornment

| April 29, 2014

“Why was fabulousness important? The world was a scary, sad place and adornment was one of the only ways she knew to make herself and the people around her forget their troubles. That was why she had opened her store almost five years ago. Everyone who entered the little square white house with miniature Corinthian columns, cherub statues, and French windows seemed to leave carrying armloads of newly handmade and well spruced-up recycled vintage clothing, humming sixties girl-group songs, seventies glam and punk, eighties New Wave one-hit wonders, or nineties grunge, doing silly dances, and not caring what anyone thought.”–Francesca Lia Block, “Necklace of Kisses” (a beautifully-written book by my favorite author, definitely worth a read)

Connecting Schusterman with my personal experience, I keep thinking of the practice of defining one’s personal aesthetic through clothes, accessories, makeup, body art/modification, and the other physical trappings we employ for such purposes. Paying attention to these elements may have no value beyond that which we ascribe to them as individuals or members of a society, but I’ve always viewed them as a means of lifting one’s and others’ spirits (I love how my pretty red coat brightens up the drabness of a subway commute and makes strangers smile), expressing various aspects of one’s identity (e.g. the “work me” wears a pantsuit; the “casual me” wears jeans and t-shirts; the “creative/hippie me” pairs Doc Martens with embroidered Indian skirts.), and functioning as a simple method of self-care (there’s a reason why, statistically, purchases of lipstick rise during an economic recession–women tend to view a new color as a cheap pick-me-up and an easy way to alter one’s appearance for the better.) Simply put, when I feel I’m dressed in a way that is flattering and reflects my personal tastes, my mood is better and I feel much more like “myself”–which, in turn, affects the attitude with which I approach life.

Sure, changing our clothes isn’t likely to change the world. But the world is made up of individuals, and contains a variety of beautiful, interesting, and creative ways in which to decorate ourselves and our immediate surroundings. As long as we’re not harming ourselves or others in their pursuit, we may as well enjoy them. Perhaps they’re the toppings which make this whole sundae worth consuming.