Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 26/04/12: Dressing for homeless people.

I’m an itinerant. In the inevitable picking-over that happens when a relationship dies, someone has to lose out. I lost my flat. My lovely (mouldy), well-situated (tiny), rooftop (freezing) flat. I’m without boyfriend, without home. Cue violins.

My mother says that I’ll always have a home with her, but her home is unfortunately not in Cork or anywhere near it – let’s just say that I can’t take the 232 in every day. In between jaunts to Cork, where I sleep on the sofa in what used to be my home and stays in my hometown, where my brother sleeps in what used to be my room, I have to regularly travel to Dublin for work.

This has its advantages, like getting to say, breezily, ‘Oh, I split my time between Cork and Dublin’ to easily impressed men in the pub. It also has its disadvantages. I may develop a stress and sofa-induced hiatal hernia. I also live out of a bag.

For the past three, no, four weeks I have been wearing and occasionally laundering the same clothes. Four sleeveless tops from Zara; two white, two grey. One black Agnes b cardigan. One black Topshop tux jacket. One grey Topman sweatshirt. One pair of indigo jeans from Penneys. One white lace dress with black leather collar and cuffs. One pair of black cut-out ankle boots, one pair of black and white Adidas low-tops and one pair of (in a shock twist) black leather heels.

You’d excuse me for making a bad pun about all the colour being leached out of my life, you really would. But it hasn’t. The colour has just vanished from my wardrobe. It’s not a grand symbolic statement. For one thing, the bag I use is a vibrant, crimson, overripe tomato red, so I’m at a loss as to what that might signify.

Black, white, grey. It’s all I wear. In the past month, these few things have taken me to Dublin, Barcelona, Dublin, Hometown, Cork, Hometown, Cork, Dublin, Cork and right back to Hometown. The versatility of these colours and shapes hypnotise me, keep me tranquilised. I forget that I have a wardrobe at all, let alone items of clothing that contain two or more different colours.

Black, white, grey. They’re like Valium. You get so used to it that you don’t care about anything else. The clothes are doing all the hard work for you, so you can concentrate on getting from one place to the other. Do work, pay bills, meet friends. Sleep. Repeat. Descend into monosyllables. Refuse to let any external embellishment meander through life, which can so easily devolve into a series of functions without the joy of colour.

Black, white, grey. They’re just functional colours. That’s all I need my clothes to do at the moment. Look nice. Be comfortable. Don’t embarrass me. Life is complicated enough already.

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2 thoughts on “Licentiate Column 26/04/12: Dressing for homeless people.

  1. Oh gosh . . . the dreaded 232. . . Would this be to Ballincollig or even further out?
    And although I’m a fan of colour, I always admire the maturity and sleekness of a black, grey and white palate. I know people talk about needing colour in their wardrobe, but it’s not a bad rut to be stuck in.

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