Clothing as Costume and Uniform

Working as a costumer on films, I am frequently reminded of how clothing helps us convey who we think we are, or want to be, to the world. While working on a film, the costume designer, actor, and director bring their different visions together in order to best relay who the character is through clothing. The actor will arrive at a fitting in their customary uniform of expensive T shirt and designer jeans and will transform once the uniform is replaced with the costume. It is my job to then care for the costume, keep it looking as it should, and deal with a multitude of issues involving the actor’s comfort while wearing it.

While working, I have a uniform of my own, built around ease and functionality. Often working on location, out of a suitcase, at the whim of the weather, and on not enough sleep, I rely on jeans, boots, and layers of shirts in cooler weather. The heat presents more problems, because in the end all I really want to wear is a sundress and flip flops. I spend my days squatting down to tie shoes, climbing through odd, small spaces to get to actors, holding coats, fixing zippers, taping down lapels, soothing actor’s blistered feet, and dealing with any number of problems arising from uncomfortable clothing. The last thing I want to do is add myself to that fray. I have to be prepared for the unexpected dust storm, rain, and to be in mud up to my knees at any moment. When people hear what I do for a living and tell me how glamorous it must be, I laugh. While working on The Lone Ranger in Moab this past July, I finally embraced shorts to keep from turning into a puddle. Scarves soaked in ice water and wrapped around my head and shoulders were another necessity. It is a feat to try to look decent while working on what is really a dirty job site all day long. My life is too fussy for fussy clothing.

When I am not working I have another uniform of sorts, with moccasins in place of work boots and blouses instead of T’s, but jeans and leggings are a constant. I try to remember to wear the jewelry I forgo while working. Recently I was going through my closet, trying to see it as a costumer looking at a character’s line on a wardrobe trailer. Did it look cohesive and like it was one person’s closet? Or, were there pieces that had been bought on a whim, with the hope of becoming someone else for a moment, but had been hanging there ever since? After getting rid of several bags, I liked and related to the person I saw revealed in the clothing. She was someone I would like to be.

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom, will you please make German pancakes? I love you, Love Claire
A note left on my parent’s bedroom door circa 1985. Further proof that I have always been slightly fanatical about brunch.

German Pancake Recipe
1/4 C butter
1 C all purpose flour
1 C milk
6 eggs lightly beaten
1/8 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in medium baking dish, a cast iron skillet works great.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, milk, eggs, and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
Bake until puffy and golden, usually 30-40 minutes.
Serve with lemon and powder sugar, syrups, fruits, jams, anything.
Really easy and delicious, serves 4-6.
Can substitute gluten free flour and your choice of milk. And can use coconut oil instead of butter.
Delicious.

Centered…?

On December 31st, 2012, I filled out a worksheet that a friend emailed me.  It asked me to look back on the previous year and forward to the next, answering questions and making lists about where I was and where I wanted to be.  About half way through, it asked me to choose a word for 2013 and to think of what my word for 2012 would have been.  Happiness, Confidence, Adventure, Love, Balance, and Fun all came to mind for both. 2012 had been one of the more amazing years of my life, full of weddings, a home renovation, new friends, a job that took me to five states in nine months, and a confidence I hadn’t felt in years.  I looked towards 2013 with excitement and anticipation, but also slight trepidation because I really had no idea where it might take me.  After some thought, I decided my word for 2012 was Confidence and, after much deliberation, settled on Centered for 2013. It didn’t sound exotic, but I realized that it could encapsulate all those more exciting sounding words within it.  What I really wanted when it came down to it, was to feel grounded in my life but the keep the spontaneity I had become so comfortable with in 2012.  I wanted happiness that couldn’t be taken when outside conditions changed.  I yearned to feel the lightness I’d felt as a gypsy without the weight of not knowing when I would next be able to open my mail.  I wanted to let go of the parts of myself I’d only just realized were outgrown and to feel solid in what remained.  It has been over two months since I chose Centered as my new word and once again I am reminded to be careful what you ask for. You will without a doubt be given situations in which to practice that which you say you want.  Nothing has gone how I thought it would as I sat writing my list on New Year’s Eve, but at the same time I know, without a doubt, that I am exactly where I need to be.  We’ll see where I am on December 31st, 2013, before deciding if it was the appropriate word choice for the year.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

WILD GEESE

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver