Fine Feathers Make Fine Birds
When I read this week’s topic, I immediately thought of a novella by Swiss poet Gottfried Keller, whose title also serves as a well-used German phrase: “Kleider machen Leute.” The best translation I could find is “Fine feathers make fine birds.” It’s true; the clothes we wear give others ideas about who or what we are. So surely we can use them to make us seem to be something that we aren’t, intentionally or unintentionally, as in the story mentioned above.
While I have liked fashion all my life, it was a number of years ago when I came across information which made me better understand myself and my true nature. It also included learning about how to express those traits in aspects of fashion such as color, design line, pattern, texture, and fabrication. It’s almost as if I learned what I would look like if I were a garment. Or better yet, what a garment would look like if it was meant to make me feel and look vibrant and alive.
In my search of clothes in that category, I remember stumbling across a perfect piece. A friend and I had some time on our hands before we were to meet some other friends for a movie. So we walked into a department store nearby and browsed the clothing racks. Then I saw it: a collarless jean vest, with a deep v-shaped neckline, pointed edges at the waistline, and mini pockets settled at an angle. I put it on and immediately loved it. Then I saw the price tag, definitely too high in my opinion. It looked perfect on me though, it hugged all the right places and it felt…so me! But, “No, no, it’s too much money. And we were just looking around. I didn’t mean to buy anything. It’s too much for an impulse buy.” On and on I went. My friend interrupted me by explaining that while this was more money than I usually spent, it was a good brand, and the cut was perfect for me. It was very versatile allowing me to wear it with many different clothes and styles, which would make it a good return for that kind of investment. Yes, it’s an impulse buy, but it’s a good one, that I might come to regret if I didn’t make the purchase. Alex, to this day I could kiss you for that intervention, for you were so right on all accounts! It was seriously one of my best buys ever, and I haven’t regretted spending the money. It made me feel strong and powerful, no matter what I paired with it. It made me easily dress for success many, many times over!
It is true, Kleider machen Leute! And in the best case scenario, clothes do so by allowing the person wearing them to feel who they really are, and show up in the world accordingly. That’s the best look on anyone!