I have this pair of beautiful green leggings–my soulmate leggings.
Oh wait, is that not a thing, soulmate clothing? It should be, don’t you think?
Case study #1: The green leggings. Dark green, cotton and spandex, not too tight but taught enough not to be bunchy, they have been my go-to long underwear all winter long. They have also stood in for tights on those days when actual tights were just too thin for the cold blowing down the city streets. It’s the color, really, that makes me love them so. Such a unique legging color! But a subdued enough hue to work under a long skirt with a pair of boots–unlike my striped pink and yellow pair of actual long johns.
Case study #2: The polka-dot purple leggings. I fear the fate may someday befall my current verdant soulmate leggings that long ago befell these purple beauties. Oh, elementary school, when one could while away the day in purple leggings with small black polka dots and feel on top of the world. These puppies were not relegated to long underwear duty. These puppies were worn to be seen. Worn and worn and worn well past the point where they fit properly. Worn well past the point where they could still technically be considered fabric, they’d become so thin from so many washings. One day, they mysteriously disappeared. My mother had a guilty look in her eye when I asked her what happened to them. Sigh. Growing out of–and wearing out–beloved clothing and shoes was one of the harder parts of growing up.
Case study #3: The gray shirt. This was the first actually wearable item of clothing that I ever designed myself. I used computer software to draft the basic pattern for a long-sleeved t-shirt to fit a sloper with my exact measurements, then once it was printed, altered it by hand to give it a yoke. Cut it out from organic heather-gray jersey knit. To assemble the shirt, I was left entirely to my own devices–no pattern directions to aid me–and loved figuring out the puzzle as I went along. Midway through making it, before I’d sewn down the yoke lining to the inside, I tried it on…and hated the fit. The look in the shoulders wasn’t at all what I had in mind. I tossed it aside and moved on to greener pastures, then finally told myself a week later that I should do the finishing work on the shirt as a matter of principle, since it was my first self-design. It didn’t matter how it looked; I could wear it as a sleep shirt. So I added the cuffs, did the hem, hand-stitched the yoke lining, tried it on once more…and loved the fit. Without the lining curling all around inside, the shoulders fit great. The simple band cuffs added a subtle sophistication. I remember freaking out in front of the mirror, so happy I’d pushed through to finish it. I wore it ALL THE TIME for over a year, put it aside for a time when it was too small, and am now happy again to pull it out of my drawer and put it on when I need a bit of comfort.
I could go on. Soulmate clothing? I think yes. These examples–and all of the many more special garments in my life that I haven’t listed–have felt not unlike destined figures in my life. They make me feel like me, so happy to be in my skin. I think, in fact, that the reason I became so enamored with making clothes was because it upped the amount of soulmate clothing in my life. I was much more in control of the items hanging in my closet–of whether I loved them or of whether they were there to get me by, because I hadn’t had the kismet or energy or funds to find something I liked any better.
When you buy clothes, you are on a hunt through a dark forest that may or may not present to you the delicious berries you seek. When you make clothes, there’s a little bit of magic. You’re making the berries themselves. Of course, when you make clothes, there is still a great deal of chance. First, you have to find the right fabric. Find–or design, or alter–the right pattern. There’s no guarantee that once you make the garment, it will fit right or look the way you imagined. But the more you work at it, the better you get at taking an idea and turning it into the thing you imagined–or something better than the thing you imagined.
However my soulmate clothing comes to me, I am grateful for it. I don’t know many better tools for life than feeling comfortable in your own skin. When your clothing, your social skin feels meant-to-be, it’s a whole lot easier to move through the world, isn’t it?