A week or so ago, the tool I've used for years and years to make every imaginary outfit on my blog was bought by another company, who shut the whole thing down. Every one of my imaginary outfits disappeared.
I thought, well, here is an opportunity to practice my detachment from fleeting earthly things. They were creations of a moment, and now the dark and unpredictable jaws of the digital void have snapped, and that's that.
And anyway, the safety of blogging, for me at least, was the idea that somehow everything was ephemeral, provisional. A sketchbook, not the finished work. And when I began blogging, ten years ago this month, I was hopeful that would somehow prove true, that I'd find something more, that all this energy would find a less flimsy outlet.
So the years passed, and I blogged, and the posts grew: dry leaves added to a pile, prettily arranged in shifting patterns, held together by intention and whim. I stacked them up without much looking back. And nothing bigger came. I was not an artist, I was not a poet. I was not an entrepreneur. I was not a writer-with-a-capital-W, pitching and polishing and refining, earning bylines or making books. And as blogging became more of a business and less of a strange hobby shared by interesting people with various obsessions, I felt weirder about doing it at all, like the person who hadn't got the memo that everything had changed. But I kept on, anyway, because I liked it and it was fun.
I'm one of those people who love watching Antiques Roadshow. The weird tin toys, the ugly ceramics, the dark and heavy furniture no one in the family ever liked, all hauled in for expert eyes to appraise by people who want to be told their thing is somehow worth something. The best parts of the show are when someone brings in something ostensibly worthless that is revealed to be a treasure, but it is all a matter of timing. The show has been on so long there are now episodes looking back through the years at so-called treasures that are less of a treasure now.
Attaching a value to something is hard; it feels safer to err on the low side, given fluctuating markets. I do that with my own work, and I know many of my friends (women, mostly) do, too, which is bad: you undervalue yourself, everyone takes you at your word. But after I had some time to feel bad about the fact that I felt bad at all over something so inconsequential as losing a bunch of pretend outfits when we live in a world that's gone crazy, I decided they were worth saving after all. Flimsy or funny or too serious or boring (I do love a sweater and clog combo), they were mine.
I found that nearly all were saved on Pinterest or other corners of the internet (thank you, friends) and I eventually did get a download of nearly all of them, so they are all more-or-less uploaded, back in the archives, for whoever wants to find them. I was shocked to find I'd created more than 180 in ten years; a slant-wise diary of my life in wishful dressing and attempts to write things.
I don't know how much value they hold. Were they worth re-uploading? Worth however many words I've written here? Probably not, and yet, maybe. To me, yes.
I am sad the outfits have lost all the links to the things inside them; in the spirit of true imagining, I hated to add a bunch of links at the end of a post, in case anyone thought I was trying to sell anything more than an idea. But it cuts against the principle I've always tried to follow online of giving credit where credit is due. This outfit is one I made and never published. The jacket is past-season Acne, the denim shirt Madewell, the shoes Ceri Hoover, the watch Shinola and the bag Etienne Angier. The bracelet (I think) is antique, and the earrings may be Melissa Joy Manning. The jeans could be anything, but that's always been the point of these: to act as more of a template, and less of a shopping list.