Fragility & Sartorial Self-Care

What do you when you start to feel fragile? In addition to transgressive women’s sexuality, my work examines the kidnappings and violent murders of negatively racialized poor women. In Canada, there are currently 520 confirmed missing Indigenous women, many of whom are also confirmed murdered in exceptionally violent ways.
After two-and-half months editing a manuscript on these enraging and distressingly immediate cases – and even as I recognize the cultural privilege that enables me to discuss and respond to these circumstances rather than experiencing them firsthand – I’m in need of some self-care. But the manuscript must be sent out before the fall term begins, so my efforts to address this personal fragility are necessarily limited.
This is all a very long way of saying, I’m using clothes to make myself feel better. Often I do this with soft fabrics in colours I find comforting. And I continue to be inspired by your blogs for this project, so thanks for being so awesome.
Todays’ outfit is part of my ongoing efforts to channel some Style Underdog. One of Bev’s many superpowers is accessorizing, and I want to learn. This is me trying to learn, while also doing some sartorial self-care:

Pale pink silk & lycra embellished cami: Le Chateau
White cotton cami: H&M (remixed)
Pale blue cotton & lycra boyfriend cardigan: Mexx
Cream cotton & lycra skirt: Jacob
(I’ve decided self-care does not involve ironing)
Brushed silver necklace: Foxy
Nude platform wedges: Nine West (remixed)
Watch: grandfather’s Pulsar (remixed)
Bracelets: various gifted & thrifted sources




Do clothes make you feel better?
What do you do for yourself when you start to feel fragile?

38 thoughts on “Fragility & Sartorial Self-Care

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  4. Thanks, Rad. And I WILL pick up the second and third books in the series. I cannot wait to learn more about Lisbeth Salander. Also, yes, it's a book-length project. And it's kicking my a$$. But not for much longer.3 more hours of work – with break for blog reading, of course – and I'm home to hug FR, to be sure.

  5. A-Dubs, this is an awkward question, but I would love to read the book, when it comes out. (As an Americanist, I have been thinking about ways to expand my knowledge base to, you know, actual North America, at the very least.) Once there is a book, if there is an appropriate way to reveal actual, you know,names, please let me know, so that I can read your work. If this was a horrible and inappropriate gaffe (as I fear it might be), please feel free to tell me so.

  6. I agree with everybody that you look gorgeous in these colours and these clothes–feminine and tailored at the same time. I'm still waiting for you to give up that pink cami to me. Blognation, A-Dubs has a history of buying pale pink clothes and then giving them to me because she thinks she can't wear that colour and I can. Obviously she is wrong. Dammit.And I think everyone is right about clothes actively working on emotions. I'm the opposite of A-Dubs, I think. When I am feeling blue I don't pay attention to what I'm wearing, or how I look, and that shows. It's not something I notice about myself, but it is something my close friends (like A-Dubs) recognise about me right away. Then they ask me what's going on. Then I burst into tears and pour myself a big gulp of red wine. The wine and the concern help a lot, but maybe I should try pretty clothes. Like a pretty pale pink cami …

  7. You look like a light, airy bite of cotton candy – so cool and fresh and sweet. Well done deciding to use clothing to improve your mood. I worry I too often use clothing to bring mine down – looking at how pieces highlight my "flaws" rather than how they make me feel.

  8. D-Med: Thanks, dude. Also, if you can find a pretty pale pink cami, I say buy it and go for it.A: 'Sorry to hear your morning's been rough, and I hope the comfy clothes are making things at least a little better for you. And thanks for the good wishes.Rad: 'Time for another full-length mirror, don't you think? I just picked up a cheapie for $10 at VaLOO, Ville-awge. Maybe your neighbourhood has similar offerings?

  9. I agree with everybody that you look gorgeous in these colours and these clothes–feminine and tailored at the same time. I'm still waiting for you to give up that pink cami to me. Blognation, A-Dubs has a history of buying pale pink clothes and then giving them to me because she thinks she can't wear that colour and I can. Obviously she is wrong. Dammit.And I think everyone is right about clothes actively working on emotions. I'm the opposite of A-Dubs, I think. When I am feeling blue I don't pay attention to what I'm wearing, or how I look, and that shows. It's not something I notice about myself, but it is something my close friends (like A-Dubs) recognise about me right away. Then they ask me what's going on. Then I burst into tears and pour myself a big gulp of red wine. The wine and the concern help a lot, but maybe I should try pretty clothes. Like a pretty pale pink cami …

  10. Dressing a certain way can definitely help if you're feeling fragile. I'm having a rough morning, and wearing something comfy to work today (a rare occasion that I'm taking advantage of our "casual" dress code), but also something that will let me just blend in. Most days I'm excited about my outfits and (silly as this sounds) know that I'll receive compliments from a couple of the ladies in my office, and thus have easy excuses to interact with my co-workers. But then there are days where I just want to keep to myself.Like others have said, even with your approaching deadline, I hope you're able to take a break from your research. I'm glad you have FR to help you feel better 🙂 My dog is pretty good at that too.

  11. @Style Underdog: I totally do that dress up too! I do it when I'm bored, bored with my outfits, sad, etc. The only bummer is that I have to go out into the bathroom and close the door, because we only have one full length mirror. I was kind of bashful doing it front of Blokey after he moved in last summer (I tried to sneak it in when he was asleep or gone) but now I do it will abandon! Isn't it fun?

  12. Sh: Thanks for you comments, and I agree about the Pickton trial stuff. It enrages me that the media are pretending its their "responsibility" to get the public all the sordid and terrible details the publication ban kept out of the papers and off of television for so long. I really like the idea of wearing pieces that belonged to others who you are or were close to. That's why I'm wearing my grandfather's watch today. It's nothing special in and of itself, but he wore it and that means something comforting, to be sure. I love seeing you mix in your grandmother's jewellery over on your blog!Ch: Too true about the tenderness. Often I feel best while holding my Fuzzy Roommate – do you pets offer you the same solace? And thank-you for your kind words. KB: Thanks, dude. I think I might remember the outfit you describe, and I love it even more in retrospect now that you've described in this way. I've never thought of make-up as armour/war paint, but I'm doing so now. Hmmm.

  13. This is a beautiful outfit, and I love the way you've combined the soft colors. It's lovely, and I'm glad it soothed you. Also, way to engage the accessories superpower!I totally dress to make myself feel better: cozy sweaters, protective scarves and hug-like jackets when I need gentleness, big tough boots and well-structured pants when I want to feel my strength. On a particularly bad day during a particularly bad term of grad school (theory comp + huge messy breakup), I wore a black angora sweater with faded bootcut jeans rolled up to show my huge black boots. I remember this outfit because it perfectly expressed my mood: fragile yet enraged, broken yet powerful. I've also put on makeup while thinking of it as armor and/or war paint.Last but not least, sorry to hear that your manuscript is making you feel this way. Take good care of you, okay?

  14. It's rare to meet an academic who speaks so candidly about the emotional effect of the work she does. Writers are always talking about it, but this is a bit different. And meaningful. Your clothes are all about fragility and gentleness. Sometimes we need to surround ourselves with tenderness, to remind us that it still exists in the world.

  15. Ah, sending you good vibes also, A-Dubs, that can't be easy on the psyche to be reading and researching on such a brutal topic. I was reading about the Picton trial, now that the publication ban has been lifted…god, I wish I hadn't. It just hurts my soul to know that people can do such awful things to other human beings. You look absolutely lovely…delicate and beautiful in this. [And I rarely buy from Jacob because all their frikkin' stuff requires ironing, which I am way too fabulous to do]. When I'm in need of a lift, I also like to wear something pretty and girly. I often turn to my grandmothers' jewelry, or my dad's ring, to make me feel close to them. Like, if I wear this piece that they wore, they're looking out for me, you know?

  16. BBSM: Thanks! 'Looking forward to your pastels post.R: I kind of love the idea of "armor" clothes. I use 'em in the classroom, but it never occurs to me to wear them as self-care. Hmmmm.SU: Damn, woman! That's high praise coming from a hero like you. Also, I like playing dress-up, too, but I'd never thought about it as therapy. I'm heading to my closet right now. Well, after I get this bottle of champers uncorked. . .

  17. I find much comfort in my clothing. There are days when I need the power of a pencil skirt, or a hug from a comfy cardigan, or some attitude from a leather jacket. When things get real bad, I close my bedroom door and play dress-up. It sounds silly, I know, but letting my mind and hands wander through my closet relaxes me. Sometimes I create a new combination that I can't wait to wear, other times I find my old stand by that carry a lot of memories. Whatever it is, I feel better when I'm done.Your subject matter is very heavy. You need to find time to SKYPE to D-Med. Have a glass of wine together and let her show off her new boots. You know she's wearing them!Way to gain the accessorizing super power. We are like wonder twins now!

  18. That sounds like interesting research, but I can see how it could be stressful to read those stories.I tend towards wearing "armor" clothes when I'm feeling vulnerable. Big boots and big bracelets and things that make me feel strong.

  19. i absolutely adore that combination of pale pink and pale blue. and the way you layered it and accessorized it. wow! i have been dreaming in pastels lately. trying to cook up something with pale mint green and peach.xx

  20. AFtK: Thanks for your interest – and if/when the book comes out, I'll find a way! Also, thanks for sharing your self-care strategies.LhdM: Thanks for the pep talk. I am definitely hanging in!

  21. Yeah, I have a friend who is working on the Rwanda's memorialization of the genocide and finds himself having nightmares. He has taken a similar route, with colors–his entire bed room is soothing shades of blue.

  22. This is a completely gorgeous outfit! I hope that it comforts you as you work on such a tough topic. Since I work on people who have been dead for hundreds of years, I find that I am pretty able to emotionally distance myself from my work. One of my former students (now a grad student for a couple of years) is working on a project about death and dying and she often feels depressed by her research. Hang in there! Kick this book project's ass!

  23. A-Dubs, this is an awkward question, but I would love to read the book, when it comes out. (As an Americanist, I have been thinking about ways to expand my knowledge base to, you know, actual North America, at the very least.) Once there is a book, if there is an appropriate way to reveal actual, you know,names, please let me know, so that I can read your work. If this was a horrible and inappropriate gaffe (as I fear it might be), please feel free to tell me so.

  24. I use the knitting for self care–I get fun books on tape, and when I am done with my day, I curl up in a chair, knit, and listen to someone read me a story. Part of what I want to do, through the exercise of fashion blog reading (and my little forays into fashion blogging) is to learn to use clothing this way. Otherwise, I let myself look glum (or at least shlubby) when I feel glum. But knitting, engrossing (but often light-I like mysteries) fiction. A knitting and movie date with a friend. Tea, cocoa, wine…

  25. So lovely. Truly.And glad you are able to use dressing as a way to self-soothe. That sounds like some incredibly taxing, soul-crushing work, right there …

  26. Thanks, Rad. And I WILL pick up the second and third books in the series. I cannot wait to learn more about Lisbeth Salander. Also, yes, it's a book-length project. And it's kicking my a$$. But not for much longer.3 more hours of work – with break for blog reading, of course – and I'm home to hug FR, to be sure.

  27. A-Dubs: I am sending many many good vibes your way. Is this a book length project? One of my buddies in Vancouver is a researcher and was involved with the res school T&R committee. Sounds like you are doing very very good and important work (Also, pick up those Dragoon Tattoo books when you get a chance!)I often dress to elevate my mood, and that started in graduate school. I'd be glum about something but I found that putting on a skirt helped. I mean, it's one thing to feel inadequate about your 2nd year seminar, but one shouldn't forget that you're still young and attractive. Good for you for using clothing creativity to take time for you. And also, love the soft pastels and the lovely accessories. Perhaps this can be your new super power.Take care of yourself, hug furry roommate, and good luck!

  28. @EK: You're right – a crisp white blouse can seem like sartorial shorthand for professional. Do you like being on hiring committees? I've never been on one, but I'm looking forward to seeing things from the other side of the process.G&G: Thanks for you wise, wise words. Also, your sartorial M.A.-exam mojo sounds luxe and awesome, to be sure. I'm trying to resist the retail therapy in order to save up for a house down payment, but I like the other therapies you suggest!

  29. I imagine being deep into this subject matter for months would indeed be distressing—so I can see how soft pastels and a sweet silhouette would offer some comfort. That makes total sense. And it is no mistake that you turned to white in spite of your misgvings about it—for most, it is the color of purity, and it gives off light, which you are seeking to counteract the darkness of your topic. I know that clothing most definitely plays into my feelings and how I cope with the world. The day I took my M.A. final exam, I wore a butter-soft leather jacket with a luxe fur shawl collar that I had purchased the night before at full-price. It was my mojo. I needed that piece of luxury as a reward and promise to myself that I had what it took, and that I would rock that exam, if for no other reason than to pay for that coat. I passed with flying fur collars.If retail therapy is not an option, cause that ALWAYS lifts my mood, then I suggest an afternoon off the computer, away from the books. If you don't have a child, borrow one you love from a friend or family member. They have a way of erasing everything else on your mind. If not that, then look at photos you love from a vacation or happy event over a cup of tea or glass of wine. Call a friend you've been meaning to catch up with. Or do some random act of kindness. That one always changes your outlook and your karma.And PS: the accessories are good—silver is cool. Reflective and soothing.♥ V http://www.gritandglamour.com

  30. Wow. It's really cool to learn about your research and how it affects your daily life!Clothes are very much tailored to my mood. Today I knew I have to be on a hiring committee and for my last appearance I felt a bit disheveled. So for today I picked something that I almost never wear: a white top. The color white just screams professional to me. Usually in a way I try to avoid. But for today, it was the right thing.

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