Winter cramps my style. All I want is to cover every inch of flesh to avoid the elements, which completely trumps being fashionable. I see women in stylish canary yellow coats, in sexy stockings, in cutie-pie knit caps topped with tufts of yarn or those funky Russian jobs old guys wear to go hunting. Despite the icy tundra surrounding us, these gals look like a million bucks.
Meanwhile, I’m dressed in four layers of clothes beneath a down coat hanging to my knees. I’m in a bulbous hat covering my entire head, a chunky scarf and boots heavy enough to pass military inspection. Because of my shortness and round features, the look is far from flattering. I could only describe my winter style as “igloo-esque.”
The winter is my cocoon period, a season of reinvention in which I discover new ways to put myself into the world once I become a butterfly in spring. Clothes may be the most superficial aspect of this rebirth, but certainly they’re the most fun. Usually, I only get rid of old stuff from the closet or choose new words to describe my style. Last year, I was going to be “funky,” the year before a bit more “boho.” But 2010 feels different. More transformative. My next incarnation?
I’m going to be an Italian woman.
I was watching this foreign film about an Italian guy trying to extract himself from a relationship with one woman while sleeping with another. The first time we meet the passionate Cloe, woman numero uno in the film, she’s sunbathing topless. When her bully of a boyfriend comes round to demand she get ready for dinner, she yells something impassioned and Italian at him, like, “I cannot live like this, you are nothing but a worm! I have no use for you. This isn’t love, it’s brutalization!” Cloe slips on a wrinkled, sheer blouse and ties her hair in a loose knot yet still manages to look absolutely stunning. Then she and her man go to a restaurant where she continues to don the see-through top, proudly displaying her breasts to any other patron who dares to look in her direction.
I’m totally gonna start doing that.
Really, I’d been working Italy into my wardrobe for years, but lots of items have remained hidden in my closet since I’ve been back in the States. In fact, much of the vivacious, voluptuous, hot-blooded textures Europe gave to my character have been subdued in an attempt to re-acclimate. Undoubtedly, it would be kind of odd to go to the movies in a busty, Sophia Loren-type getup or disagree with a colleague at work by telling him, “Your cruelty seeps into me like poison. You are a fool and you are dead to me.”
Anyway, it’s more than getting bored with my wardrobe. It’s about wanting to free a caged part of my soul.
Part of my reason for coming back to the States was realizing I couldn’t spend a lifetime drinking sangria and writing stories in cafés with manic poets and directionless bums. But why does the alternative have to be so humdrum? One doesn’t have to be a wanderluster who moves half way across the globe to know the way we’ve constructed our worlds kinda stinks. The passion is gone from our day to day. The vast palette of color that enriches our lives has been drained by a fixation on success, or nowadays, survival.
I want it back. Maybe I don’t have to channel Italian women, move to the other side of the planet or even alter the life I’ve built for myself in the here and now. Maybe I simply need to be adamant in not allowing my own passion to drain. Let the thigh high stockings beneath my business suit be a silent rebellion. Let the sound of my laughter reach socially unacceptable levels as a more explicit revolt. Maybe next time someone bullies me, I’ll skip the Oprah-style courtesy and let him know he’s a worm who’s destroying my life. I’ll take flamenco classes and mimic the languages I hear in foreign films and write stories raw enough to unsettle more emotionally detached sensibilities. And I’ll keep falling madly, dangerously in love. That is, once I get out of this dag-blasted parka.
Man, I can’t wait for spring.
**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart&Soul at www.TartandSoul.com.