How to get your body caftan-ready for summer

The boys at work have been playing (and singing!) this song:

…which will forevermore remind me of the excellent article from which I stole the title of this post, thank you :

1. Select a caftan of your chosen gauge and length. Stroke its gauzy fabric and whisper into its folds.

2. Let your flesh settle into the crevices of your comfortable, comfortable caftan.

3. Crumbs? Let them fall where they may, swaddled in your caftan.

4. Throw out your razor.

5. Throw out your bra.

6. Throw out the aloe vera lotion you bought last summer. You will not be getting sunburned this summer.

7. Release your inhibitions. Feel the rain on your skin.

I’ve been itching to write about, in no particular order: the time I thought I needed to buy all new clothes to be more “feminine” because I had internalized all this male gaze crap and even went so far as to send emails back and forth with a few different personal stylists I was going to spend $$$ with and install a frikken wardrobe app on my phone and almost decided to grow my hair out, and then I randomly stumbled across an article by Cynara Geissler in The Establishment entitled ‘Toddler Grandma Style,’ The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free:

Toddler Grandma Style was my chance to embrace all the noisy novelty prints, sensible shoes, and Claudia Kishi accessories (excessories) I loved, while also living the patriarchy-flouting, male-gaze-dodging ideals of a Man Repeller. Because toddlers and elderly women are seen as devoid of any sex appeal, they stand outside the male gaze and as such get to ignore the rather limiting “rules” set out for women (in culture, and by ourselves) when it comes to personal presentation.

and even though I love love love this fresh perspective, even she appears to be stuck in the world of “I need to buy more clothes” and Consumerism, and then my colleague came out as non-binary gendered and asked the entire team to use they/them pronouns (which I’d been doing for months, because we’re friends), and I realized I’d rather be more inspired by them than believe the stories I was telling myself about what I “should” wear that I decided: Fuck It, all I really “needed” to feel more comfortable in the clothes I already owned was a pair of boots to replace the ones I finally threw out because they were falling apart.

I will still occasionally don the skinny black jeans I can barely fit into anymore and a face-full of makeup, mostly because it’s a film shoot day at work and “colors show where features fade,” as my musical theater friends used to say.

My colleagues inevitably notice that I’m not wearing my normal uniform of ill-fitting jeans with amorphous shirt and pay me compliments. If I’m honest I both I appreciate and resent this. But I have been practicing being gracious, responding with a smile and a simple, “thanks!”

Though I still have some questions about what gender norms I’m perpetuating by not launching into a lecture at such moments, it’s been a huge relief to relax my fighting stance. I’d like to believe that my attitude may one day learn, as my body has already, to joyfully inhabit its newly expanded, much-more-relaxed, caftan-style territory.

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