As a Catholic Clothes Horse, I occasionally find it necessary to temper my affinities for wearable textiles with readings of The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, but that usually ends with a (rather uncomfortable) metaphorical roll in briars or fire. While I cannot counter that the remedy isn’t typically good for the soul, I’ve been able to develop, of late, a desire to seek some measures that are a bit more preventative. Enter my very own version of Dressing Liturgically, which, while in the same vein as black on Good Friday and red on Pentecost, is even more simple.
See, the whole purpose of the fashion industry is to entrap women, and yes, I am aware that this isn’t even approaching ground-breaking, especially as my husband seems to bring it up every time he unwittingly enters into a situation when he finds himself crossing over the threshold of The Gap – Matt’s own personal whore of Babylon… oh wait, that’s her more pious cousin… I meant that two-headed wench Abercrombie and Fitch and her sister Hollister… Those two stores are literally so dark on the inside that your teenager can’t even tell the wash of the jeans they’re trying on. But, I digress.
Women on the whole can probably not defeat the wiles of the fashion industry, who wishes to win over all their cash money, along with their heads. However, I believe that there are enough clever, Catholic women out there who can make pledges to dress more liturgically, and thus more seasonally, and score some saavy buys along the way. My case in point: the span of time from the day after Christmas through to the middle or end of January is when the bulk of the resort season wear (notably differing from spring fashion, which is debuting now) is out on the market. That means, that when the tens of thousands of Cincinnatians are getting ready to head to Cabo mid-winter, J.Crew is ready for us, right? Sort of.
See, J.Crew, and even Target have their scores of bathing suits and flip flops on the shelves, along with all the tissue-thin t-shirts with mid-winter beach resort-type sayings, but, quite simply, there are NOT tens of thousands of Cincinnatians who are in, or are preparing to head to, Cabo are this moment, but simply many, many women who A., are seasonally depressed (I hear ya), B., are trying to pretend to their friends that they are preparing to head to Cabo, C., are trying on those swimsuits in-between shoveling the driveway and sessions on the couch in a Snuggie, or D., some mixture of the aforementioned activities. Come on, who has time, anyway, when they’re planning their Victory Gardens? While I can relate (I did indeed buy a pair of quite preppy, pink, English Bulldog flip flops at J. Crew last January, and I cannot pledge that I wouldn’t do it again if put in a similar situation), I am willing to enter into Liturgical Wardrobe Recovery. Don’t worry, it doesn’t entail cinctures or albs, but it does encourage moderation in all things (this is maybe a bit more pagan in its philosophy- think Epicurus – than the Fioretti would like, but nonetheless Catholic, although I don’t see an encyclical on the theme coming out any time soon).
Here are the rules:
- Never wear anything promoting a holiday, especially one that is Christian in origin, that has not occurred yet. This includes Christmas Sweaters, a staple of Western pop culture that has some overlap with the ubiquitous Cosby Sweater – go ahead and wear all the way until the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, but don’t go jumping the gun and wearing them during Advent, or, God forbid, the day after Thanksgiving.
- Advent – Integrate purple and bring in the pink for Gaudete. Lay off the green and red!
- Christmas – Just when everyone else is drycleaning the Christmas Sweaters for next year, pull ‘em out! They may think you’re late, but you and a group of 1.13 billion of your closest friends worldwide will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re right on time (just try not to be snide about it…).
- Ordinary Time I – Stay strong! Keep wearing your warm, winter clothes! Don’t succumb to resort season (unless you are indeed in Cabo, in which case, email me if you could maybe swing another ticket and some room and board for your new best friend…), or invest in anything clothing that would be impractical without the added investment of a heat lamp. This is the perfect time for those florescent-colored sweaters and leggings that are reminiscent of fun in the sun, when the sun is just not ready for you yet. When in times of temptation, crack open the Fioretti or check the current weather in your zipcode!
- Lent – Even though we are preparing for Easter, a time most notable for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (and peripherally known for floral dresses, big hats, and fuzzy bunnies bearing candy, by the media), remember that it is still February and we are in a season of contrition and atonement. Don’t even think about that peeps pink or chick yellow, linen-cotton cardigan. Go to the Stations and remember the prayer power in the Sorrowful Mysteries. Don’t worry, you don’t have to aim for an Edward Scissorhands look, but probably not having been to Cabo this past winter, you have the complexion to give it a go. Gray, black, and dark purple look great on you.
- Easter – Easter day is a good time to, in recalling the Savior’s resurrection and our salvation from sin, pull out the white (ignore the Memorial Day to Labor Day hogwash, the new rule on white is Easter, through the Sundays after Pentecost, to Advent!), and pull out your gold accessories. This is the biggest feast of the year! If you must, go peeps pink and chick yellow.
- Ordinary Time II: The time of year when the most wardrobe scandal is committed in Western churches and city streets alike, go slow and careful when choosing wardrobe items to wear during this season. If a female, be sure to allow at least three full days of agony attempting to seek out a bathing suit, and, if you have a teenage girl, just say no – you might even want to direct them to some of the great Pentecostal Women’s bathing suit options.
- If you buy clothing when it is actually temperature-appropriate to wear them, they are on sale because they have already been in stores for months by that time! There is never any reason to buy full-price clothing.