I've been struggling to write something for this. I have some ideas. I have an interview I need to finish. I have some stuff mostly finished. But I sit down and can't write anything.
As some of you may have gleaned from my chaotic internet presence of the last few weeks, my long term partner and I broke up at the start of September. It's been an uncomfortable and painful process as we've had to live together the last month. In that space I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I alleviate discomfort.
I've never felt that comfortable in my own body, but for the last two years I've been running from the totally new, out of body discomfort that comes from being sexually assaulted by someone you trust. My relationship with clothes and my body deteriorated and in its place I only had things. That was okay for a while. If the space around me felt safe and pleasing to look at, I could feel okay. But now the comfort I usually get from everything in my apartment– books and the art on the walls and records and the dozens of copies of The Reader I've been carting around for years– has been replaced by feeling a deep sense of despair. I guess in an effort to not fall into an alcohol fueled spiral, I've had to look back at myself instead.
So I got my first haircut in Philadelphia after a year of living here and spent $100 on a Dismemberment Plan t-shirt.
The former was overdue and imperative as I recently destroyed my bangs, but the latter was a longer decision making process. So now I'm writing an essay about that. I am a fan of the Dismemberment Plan, they have some great and cool stuff, but this is not really about them. This is about the shirt I bought with their band name on it. This is about me, not about them.
Anyway, this all really begins when I had coffee and lunch with a friend when he was in Philadelphia for a few days. Because he's very nice and seems to take me relatively seriously, I'll allow this 34 year old man to disagree with and correct my (mostly flippant) hard opinions without complaint. He argues things like, no, top shelf alcohol is worth it when I balk at his choice of drink. He makes a comparison to nicely made clothes or vintage clothes. He tells me about his vintage t-shirts. Notably, one Nirvana shirt from the 90s is worth a lot , but he didn’t buy it off someone online. That one was his natively (that's a brag). He talks about his friends’ records he worked on that are worth a lot more money now and how it's important to him he has copies of albums his art has been a part of. He's really making a case for items as investments– a concept I've never really been able to comprehend– and hey it's a nice wardrobe him and his girlfriend can share. Can't fault it.
So on bad days I pull up cool shirts that cost too much money and think about buying one of them. I'm stuck on the Dismemberment Plan shirt. I start making jokes on twitter about buying it. It's a fun bit.
Then eventually, on a day I really need something positive to look forward to, I buy the shirt. Then I wait ages for it to arrive in Philly.
Once it gets to me, I put it on and sit in front of my full length mirror. In that moment I feel really comfortable in how I look and feel in my body for the first time in years. It doesn't matter that my apartment is a mess behind me from days of extracting my things from my ex-boyfriend's things to prepare for him leaving. It doesn't matter that posters from the shows he and I met at got soaked when the window was leaking a few days ago. All that matters is that I think I look cute in a cool new shirt that fits exactly the way I hoped it would.
That sounds silly, but for that moment I could feel some comfort in how I'm presenting myself instead of needing to derive comfort from my surroundings. Clothes are still things, but they're a sort of conduit of ourselves. Things that are more a part of me than something I'm looking out toward. It's corny to quote fashion designers, but in a 2012 Wall Street Journal interview with Alber Elbaz he said something that resonated with me and my perspective on clothes.
"Two different women told me two different things at two different times, and I always go back to them. One person told me that every time she wears Lanvin men fall in love with her, and I thought that was so beautiful. The other one told me that she was in a taxi going to face her husband's lawyer because she was getting a divorce, but she was wearing Lanvin and she felt so protected. If I can make men fall in love with women and if I can protect women, I think I can die peacefully."
And I don't know about men falling in love with me, but I do feel a level of safety in the confidence clothes can bring. I'll probably never own anything from Lanvin, but I do have a jacket I love and that D-Plan shirt I love and I wore them to have a dinner that I knew was probably just going to end in pain.
I was right about the pain, but at least I could look at myself for the first time in months and find comfort instead of shame and guilt. That's an investment worth my $100.
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to hear more about music and my other poor financial decisions: @mirandareinert. I also have a paid tier of this newsletter for $5 a month or $45 a year! If you do that I'll give you at least one free zine if you respond to this email with a mailing address! Wow! Might want to get in on that! You may also just send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. But as always, thanks for reading!
And here's my Dismemberment Plan t-shirt