Bye Prada. We Have to Break Up
But thanks for the beautiful memories
It’s a known fact that a song can bring back memories. Many years later, when you listen to a song you loved in high school, you can be instantly transported back to that time — the good and the not-so-good time. Hearing a song from a meaningful moment in your life—when you met your partner, for example—can return you to the emotional state you were in when the song was first encoded in your brain.
The same thing happens every time I walk into my closet. An item hanging there transports me back to another time — a first date, when my children were babies, a promotion at work, or the loss of a loved one. The loves, losses and joys of my life are in my closet.
What I wore always mattered to me. It was a way to shape my day, and I chose carefully like a knight selecting his armour for the battles ahead. Over the years, I invested in beautiful pieces — classic jackets, tailored trousers, beautiful shoes. With the right, feel-great outfit, I armed for the challenge, whether an important presentation at work, a meeting with one of the kids’ teachers or the first date my husband and I went on.
We all have important rituals in our lives. For you, it might be Sunday night family dinners, the annual vacation at the beach, or treating yourself to the occasional bouquet of fresh flowers. Don’t worry, I like these things too.
For me, though, the right outfit was the ritual—a secret one. And Prada made me feel eleven feet tall—and invincible. My Prada jackets and dresses have classic, straight, tailored lines. But they have a little edginess to add to my otherwise staid persona.
When I open my closet, I see the single-breasted black Prada blazer with the flap pockets I wore to help me land my first big job. I run my hand over a boxy ivory cashmere one with a shawl collar and hidden snap closures, and I’m transported back to a celebration when a friend got a big award, and we drank a lot of champagne. A favourite black and white tweed jacket reminds me of countless times when life was rushed, and I threw it on to dress-up jeans and a T-shirt.
These days, I do not need anything that hangs in my closet because I rarely leave home, except for walks and trips to the grocery store. I wear sweat pants most days, and I feel unmoored. I am lost and floating in the pandemic haze of life. There is no separation or boundary between home and the rest of my life.
I wake up, pull on a pair of sweats and head up to my home office to bang on my computer. The clients I meet are on video chat. Nobody at the grocery store pays any attention to me. The day’s highlight is a quiet dinner with my husband when we catch up on our day. Thank God his is at least eventful, so we have something to talk about.
Gone are visits with friends, meals in restaurants, travel, theatre and concerts, and social events. It’s like my life has vaporized. My Prada jackets hang in the closet unworn. The handbags line up on a shelf like soldiers. The high heels wait patiently as if the old days will somehow reappear. Who needs a cocktail dress these days?
Prada and I are forced to break up, but like a lover long ago, I still have the memories. The items in my closet transport me back to all the big and memorable events in my life.
What I wear these days provides no armour. My sweat pants don’t make me feel invincible. Maybe that’s the problem.