Clothing provides warmth and healing

March 6, 2022

Now that you are retired or your part-time jobs are different, what happened to your professional wardrobe? My husband’s neckties are currently used as straps during a yoga class. He won’t wear a suit even to a wedding, while I seem to want to dress like a hostess at a party.

Recently, we attended an event at a country club where no jeans were allowed. Why should clothes matter so much? We are a privileged society that has so many choices and rules.

When I volunteered to help build a house in Piedras Negras, Mexico, years ago, we were told to discard our clothing on a table at the end of the week. Before heading home, I watched a group of women snatching up our laundry like they had won a lottery. The owner of the house we built felt that way, too.

Today, my husband and I take whatever items we’re not wearing to an area thrift store. And I’m ashamed to admit, I still buy more than I need. Maybe I love clothes so much because I wore so many hand-me-downs. My older two sisters were identical twins. For years, I had to wear what didn’t fit either of them.

My husband loves the $4 shirts I buy at the thrift store, because clothes, to him, are functional, not fashionable. Lately, I’ve been expanding his wardrobe with designer clothing from higher-end shops which pop up on my Facebook feed. I think the clothes I’ve chosen make him look handsome.

One of our favorite TV shows is called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” A group of five gay men rescues someone who has stopped taking care of themselves and provides them an entire makeover.

I love it when Jonathan Van Ness provides a new hairstyle, or he might shave a beard for someone who hasn’t the time or money to go to a salon. Anthony Porowski, a food expert, teaches one subject to make a dinner for their loved ones, while Karamo Brown provides much-needed counseling to boost their self-esteem. Bobby Berk and his team give their business or home a makeover. Tam France, a fashion expert, takes one to an expensive clothing store and encourages them to try on clothes they could never afford.

At the end of the show, we witness an entire transformation, and feel happy and hopeful that the person sees a better future for themselves. Imagine what might happen if five strangers came into your life and said, we are here to love you and support you no matter what.

In my family, I was the caretaker who took my sister Karen clothes shopping. She couldn’t afford supportive shoes, so I bought them for her, believing that what she wore on her feet was most important.

One of my former principals wore red at faculty meetings when she knew the upcoming training was going to be contentious. If the meeting went well, those of us on her leadership team giggled and whispered, "She must be wearing red underwear, too!"

March is a good time to donate unwanted items to our area thrift shops, which serve an enormous need in our community. When you help people to feel better about themselves, you feel better, too.


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