The guest's eye can set you free

Have you ever had a friend "borrow" your closet? A house guest comes, for example, with the wrong clothes for the climate. ("I thought Canada was cold!?")

Invited to choose, your guest plucks a skirt and pairs it with an odd tee... in this case, my chartreuse linen wrap skirt that never seemed very wearable with a teal tee. When she twists my forgotten silk ikat scarf around her neck, I'm surprised to see the clothes' colours echoed, the combination offbeat and fresh.

That gray silk piano shawl bought for a wedding and never worn again? She ties it over a white scoopneck tee and dark denim pencil skirt.

I cannot believe how great her choices look. I want that! Wait. She's wearing my clothes.

I resolve to regard my very large wardrobe with her eyes, instead of falling back on the familiar combinations. To no longer glance past an eight year old Gigli jacket, but appreciate its still-perfect cut.

So much buying is simply the result of the eye being stimulated by something fresh, instead working to revise what one already has. I've been easily seduced by the novelty of the new, and too lazy, blind or habit-bound to realize my closet's plenty.


Anonymous said…
A few years ago a mother at my children's school asked me if she could borrow a few of my outfits as she had been invited to the Venice Biennale and would be attending several private views and functions. She came round and took away several garments to try at home before going to Italy. She finally decided on two very plain sheath dresses which she wore most of time during her visit. She was especially careful to tell me afterwards that whilst wearing the raspberry coloured one she was approached by the actor Steve Martin at a private view and complimented on her dress!

Don't know why I'm telling you all this, but your article just reminded me of it.
Duchesse said…
Hi GP: Lovely anecdote. It's also fun to see someone attired in your clothes- made me realize how my friend's body and movement changed my clothes as much as the new combinations she found.

normally I do not lend cothes; i had a disastrous experience. A good friend borrowed an expensive cocktail dress and returned it with a cigarette burn. When I pointed it out, she said, "I guess I won't do that again." Nor will I lend unless I don't care if i see it again.
That is fantastic. Hmm, wonder if I can get someone to come over and borrow my closet. I fear they would be overwhelmed by all my options of black and never come out of the black hole that is my wardrobe.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse, your last paragraph rings so true for me. All the new fresh things have unlimited scope for exciting adventure whilst the stuff I own, well thats just a middle aged ladies crap.
Clearing out ones closet regularly and experimenting with your stuff, as my sister does, is a great thing to do for "fresh eyes".
Anonymous said…
Sorry, just wanted to add Greying Pixie, that is a wonderful story. Are you annoyed that your dress has had such an exciting time without you though?
Anonymous said…
I was really flattered that this woman asked to borrow my clothes as I considered her to have such good taste. She was an architect. It has never occurred to me that my dress has had more of a life than me! Actually the said dress is as old as me as it dates from around 1960. I bought it in a secondhand shop in 1989 for £2. So really I'm just a passing phase in its life as is Steve Martin!

duchesse, with regard to the cigarette burn. I would be mortified if I handed back an item damaged. Did your friend offer to pay for the dress, or at least to have it professionally altered or mended?

With regard to seeing old clothes through fresh eyes, it is one of my treats to myself at the end of a long period of work, to spend a morning trying on my clothes and working out new outfits. I do it perhaps 3 or 4 times a year, no more, and it is so relaxing. It also allows time to experiment which I just don't have when getting dressed for work in the morning. Of course I need to be completely alone in the house with no impending appointments and answer phone switched on.
Duchesse said…
GP: The fabric of the dress and location of burn made repair impossible. She did not offer to replace the dress nor did she offer any other option. Eventually, after other incidents, I ended the relationship.
Anjela's Day said…
Fascinating to read this posting and comments and how the lending /borrowing of clothes can give one a whole new perspective on what is old to oneself yet, 'new' when viewed on another.

Maybe it is not as deep as a friend's energy being imbued into the fibers of the clothing. But, still a form of switch and change that adds or detracts from the clothing or the friendship.

I think of myself as being generous but, might be slow to lend my clothes. As the youngest child in a family of three sisters who were all older I, only once almost had to inherit their special clothes- Holy Communion and thankfully it didn't fit properly and my mother decided to buy me my very own, brand new, trusseau. I am afraid I rather coveted it and I buried my face in the box, in the layers of gauze. I inhaled the smells and felt the tiny pearls beneath my fingers. I traced the lace and to this day I can feel the wonderous feel of being enveloped in silks and satins and luxury. I admire all of you who share with your friends.
Anonymous said…

The posts with the most