The Cast

Deja Pseu wrote a thorough, precise two-part post on her former and new clothes-shopping approach and resolutions here. As usual, she stimulated my thinking.

Once upon a free-spending, single-gal time, I welcomed a cast of characters to my closet: Hippie Chick, Executive, Single About Town, Avant-Garde (Japanese Division), Sporty: there was a theatre troop stuffed in there, all waiting for their break. Time passed; these were joined by Busy Mum.

Twenty five
years later, the characters have dwindled to two: Work Casually and Yogini.

Work Casually owns a few jackets and nice pants; she can muster cocktail attire, but no longer owns a skirted suit. She's settled on black, charcoal, pale grey.

She knows what the workplace expects and is willing to conform, but wants clothes she enjoys, too.

Yogini is not the ascetic sort; she sometimes goes to wine bars, so likes Indian shawls and graceful skirts. She wears more colour, mostly in accessories. Hers is the more sensuous character, and she is gaining ground.

But I still see a 'character' on the street and think, "I can do that": a Buoyant Preppy in a cabled navy sweater and immaculate white jeans, a Deneuve-ish Soigneé Siren in a sleek suit and stilettos, waiting for her driver.

An Adorable Twig in a pink plastic raincoat and flowered rainboots is so fetching, for an instant I think about way-too-young styles.

In the moment, I want to introduce these characters to my closet; I'm like central casting for clothes.

When I look back on the items that did not yield much value, it was these character-costumes. They are someone else, or at the very least a me I don't take out very often.

Who are the characters in your closet? Has the cast changed? Do you welcome a multitude or accommodate only a few?


Anonymous said…
I do like naming the different "departments" in my closets "characters" - I really do love this term. Yes, I obviously have different characters. One is the "casual" look: wide linen pants in diverse colors, matching tops and lots of black, turquoise, emerald green and colors alike.
Then I have the "romantic nature lover":Linen pants in natural, softer and muted colors, matching silk balloon dresses, A-lined silk tops etc. And one of my most fav characters is my "victorian at heart" section: Lots of antique dress stuff, laces, vintage stuff re-vamped, vintage hats and such. All quite elaborate, frilly,decorated,feminine.
I am certainly not the kind of woman who is happy in a black Turtle plus slim black pants. Sometimes I do this look - very "Rundholz" - but mostly I burst out in colored accessoiries to add to the black :-))
Nancy K said…
I don't name the different departments of my wardrobe because there aren't that many. I don't need corporate, though I love tailored jackets but if I succumb they rarely get worn. Who needs a suit to sit at home at my drafting table or computer? Not I. But I do see interesting women around and think oh that would be fun to wear, but hey wait a minute, not my body or its way too young. I have eliminated those departments that aren't really me and if bought or sewn won't get worn. In other words, I try and sew for my real life. It is a bit sad though.
I do try for some drama in what I wear, well sometimes, again who needs drama at the drafting table. It just gets dirty or caught in my drafting stool wheels. But, on the whole this is a good thing. I look at old pictures and cringe at some of those experiments I used to try out.
mette said…
I have very little clothes in my wardrobe. I won´t keep anything that won´t fit, or which has lost my interest. Maybe there are three me´s. One of them has durable, thus high quality outdoor wear, easily dressed up a bit to run for small errands if needed ( and often is ). Then there is the casual me, who instantly, with only having to grab a coat and bag is ready for town ( and often is ). Third, there is a festive me, who as her simplest, doesn´t raise eyebrows, but who, given +10 minutes, is ready for any occasion ( this does not happen often ) ; there is very little of it. Hmm.. I´m not quite sure if I understood you correctly, but this is my comment ; )
Anonymous said…
An interesting approach, I had not considered it before. On reflection I think my wardrobe is polarised - on the one had there is 'very scruffy, harrassed middle aged mother' [jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts]and on the other there is 'slightly scruffy middle aged lawyer' [black skirts and trousers, white blouses and a selection of black/gray jackets]. It is only in the last 6 months or so that there has begun to be any common ground between the two extremes, as I have moved on to wearing some colourful woollen dresses for work, that I actually like enough to wear outside work too, sometimes. I really need to overhaul my wardrobe - I shall go and read Pseu's post now for ideas.
Susan B said…
I love how you've described this phenomenon. For a long time I felt as though I had two different women sharing my closet, the Straight-Up Classic (and it's close cousin, Corporate Drag) and the Happy Hippie. Lately I've found myself merging the two with the Twisted Classic aesthetic, which feels very comfortable and organic, and has made getting dressed fun again.

These days, if something feels costume-y when I put it on, I know that it's not really me.
LPC said…
Yes, of course. The Grande Dame and the Sturdy Gal. I just try to make the Grande Dame wear comfortable shoes and the Sturdy Gal put down my son's khakis in favor of some without frayed hems....
spacegeek said…
A kind of side topic: do you think it is important to have a wardrobe that works for all of your characters at once or is it "okay" to have these separate characters in one's closet? Or is it inevitable? I have Weekend Mother, Dressed-Up Mother, No-meeting Working and Meet with the Executives in my closet. Weekend Mother sometimes becomes Working out Lady or Horse-back Rider, but in general, they are different characters too.
Glove Slap said…
What a charming, delightful, imaginative way of describing the different moods of your clothes!
Unfortunately for me, my space, budget and lifestyle pretty much limit me to one "character".
Wanting to wear three or four used to get me distressed; it made me think maybe I didn't know who I was, and that my worldview was confused. But I realized, I'm just a complex person... who loves clothes, all kinds of clothes.
I love it when you categorize! You're downright sociological.
Mardel said…
I used to have many different characters, but they are moving out and I am not quite sure who will be left. There may be only one winner. But I'm not working. If I were, it would be different.
Belle de Ville said…
Great post. I used to just have my young matron, equestrienne, and hippy chic outfits. Now I have so many characters in my closet that I have wardrobe schizophrenia.
Duchesse said…
Chatelaine: Oh! Would love to go out with Victorian at Heart; we would get the best tables! I had a dear friend who wore vintage Victorian to bars, men went wild.

Nancy K: "To eliminate the characters that aren't really you" is the holy grail. And I think we all need a touch of drama (whatever that is for you).

metscan: You have such discipline! Of all bloggers who show their clothes, yours are consistently closest to my taste, but unlike you, my head gets turned by other styles too.

Alienne: Pseu's posts always enlighten me and she's so frank about her hopes vs the reality when she buys clothes.

Pseu: We are all benefiting from your exploration- and when you find your Twisted Classic groove, I can hear your little Pseu heart sing.

LPC: Yes, yes, that's utterly you. But love how you invite Arty Cousin to your party.

spacegeek: Of course it's OK, honeybunch. One day, you may choose to say farewell to one of them (or more). It is *your* call. I haven't been Western Roadhouse Gal for decades so bye-bye Tony Lamas and flashy silk Western shirts.

Glove Slap: You're ahead of me- my world view is still sometimes confused. Maybe that's the cause: complex people build these diverse wardrobes, then wonder "What have I done?"

Mardel: Not knowing who will be left, what a marvelous expression. I'll bet she will really be 'somebody'.

Belle: Unlike some here, you are moving into the 'more characters' domain. I think this can be a creative venture and would love to see the various Belles.
diverchic said…
I have to watch out for "Manic Gardener" and the "Queen Mother" getting out in public. Colour rules my clothes but I have a couple of"Gentle Executive" black outfits that aren't too boring. Mostly it is the "Sporty Wit" who goes to lunch and sees therapy patients. Shawls and scarves and bracelets and rouge help keep Sporty off the shuffleboard court.

I love your characterizations!
Tiffany said…
I'm working on finding out what my characters are - for a long time I was stuck between 'Working from home boredom' (jeans & t-shirts) and 'Working in the city' (suits etc). Now I'm finding a middle ground that is more dressy than jeans, more interesting that suits. Like you and many other commenters, I do often find myself taken by a look that, on reflection, really wouldn't work for me. At least I'm learning to work that out BEFORE I shop the look!
Duchesse said…
diverchic: Wonder who will be called forth from your new home?

tiffany: The cast changes, and the challenge is to not buy until we have the current characters identified. Took me the longest time to stop stroking Armani suits!
Shelley said…
What a great idea, knowing what characters you are costuming! I'm afraid my closet is currently full of Tired & Re-tired Executive, Bag Lady and the drawers are full of Reluctant Athlete. I could also name Hand-me-down Hannah. I think I need me a new attitude and a bit more ...character.
Unknown said…
Ha! I used to have long conversations with my therapist about exactly this problem: I had all these different personality facets and really succeeding at the goals of one was incompatible with supporting any of the others.

While there were real, deep, painful issues and choices to face, I'm pretty sure the driving crisis was insufficient wardrobe space. :)
Duchesse said…
Shelley: Sounds like you might need rest, relaxation and then a major closet prune!

Gwen: Do you know the school of psychology called psychosynthesis? A wonderful way of naming, understanding and welcoming the many 'selves' within our Self, called subpersonalities. (This is NOT the split personality concept.) I was thinking of pyschosynthesis when I wrote this post.
materfamilias said…
What fun! I'll have to go think about this, but off the top of my head, I'd say that two things have been happening over the past year or two. One, I've been refining and culling and assessing, getting closer and closer to knowing what suits and pleases me. Two, I'm becoming more comfortable with the range of my style/personality and owning my eclecticism. Artsy Cousin/Sturdy Gal probably comes closest but is still a bit reductive. It's all good fun, no? And your "theatre troupe" approach amps up the fun even more -- thanks!
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: Perhaps was not clear- don't want a theatre troop in my closet! Too much space, too much maintenance, and requires more consumption than is good for me. Finally down to two characters (a two-hander?) after years of cramming in characters, some well past their best-by date (Hootchie Mama and I'm With the Band).
DocP said…
It is interesting how some of us define by roles/events/work and others by style or persona.

My closet is shared by a classic/Grande Dame and a more boho lover of Victorian/Edwardian/exotic.
materfamilias said…
Oh no, you were quite clear, and I did realize that you're trying to pare down and clarify, eliminate characters rather than invite any in. I was just musing in response--sorry if my response seemed disconnected from what you said.
s. said…
You and your commenters make me giggle. I think I'd like to meet this ENTIRE cast of characters; each one sounds delightful. My closet runs the gamut: stragglers from my long-gone Size 6 Fashionista days; Sloppy Mirthful; Sloppy Depressed; Classic Wannabe and ever-so-many more.

I wonder - did the Style Statement book help you cull some of the outliers from your closet?
Duchesse said…
s: I must meet Sloppy Mirthful! Dutifully slogged through entire Style Statement and my reward was a capsule description I could not have second guessed- valuable to me. Was not thinking of it when wrote this post but yes, having it helps me say no to other characters.
I've always been curious about what your Style Statement is - I slogged through the book but never came up with anything - and it was a slog, but nothing really spoke to me.

I used to do flirty classic when I worked in institutions, now that I work for myself I'm way more deconstructed dramatic.
Anonymous said…
The "Cast" Party is raging right now. Lots of characters. Never mind about that...
I only wanted to invite
Updated Strict + Gentle Soul with color added = one character!
I couldn't think of a name for the character she is sometimes played by G. Paltrow.
Duchesse, do you know this one?
Duchesse said…
Imogen: Sensuous truth. Though it sounds vague seeing it written here, it has given me a reliable compass.

Anonymous: I can see the elegant but not uptight effect, perhaps she is "Gentle Gwyneth"?
Glennis said…
Great post and food for thought. I think I have an entire crowd in my closet.

The posts with the most