Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Value of Costume

    Costumery, fancy dress, getting dolled up in things not normal to us, is as much a part of the Attire language as your blue jeans, or your favorite shoes.  Being in costume, choosing to step outside your daily routine, is a massively freeing experience.  It allows us to express hidden feelings and thoughts with impunity; because a costume party, or other costumed event like Mardi Gras, Carnivale, or Halloween enables us to do so without fear of disapproval.  For some reason, we allow ourselves as a community to look on people with much greater indulgence and acceptance.  Many is the time that I have seen tourists cozying up to outrageous drag queens, to be photographed together, while in real life they might not be willing to acknowledge them.
    We permit ourselves to see the person in front of us with far less judgement in place, so the person of size is not only allowed to be dressed in an overtly sexy fashion, but we can SEE them as sexy.  The man who is quietly mousy can dress as a noble lord and folk will see that nobility.  Or someone can get creative, and become an inanimate object, an animal, or a figure of dream.  It may only be play, but it can have a profound effect on the viewer and the viewed.
    The effect is an enlargement of world view for the observer, and an enlargement of personal understanding for the observed.  The more we expose ourselves to other modes of presentation, just like when we travel to other countries, we grow, we become less hidebound, and less narrow in our focus.  And every time we choose to present ourselves differently, we discover something new about ourselves, because we feel differently, and people react to us differently.
    So this is why I will always champion the idea of getting dressed up in a costume.  Whether its something store bought that cost 10 bucks, or whether you labored over it for months, the transformation can take you somewhere exciting, thought provoking, and revelatory, if you let it.  Conversely, you are giving a gift to others when you get up in a fancy dress outfit.  They have as much chance for self discovery as you, just in a different way, because you chose to do what you have done.

     Costume is a zone where no matter what your thought process, or feelings, you can safely express them. So I say bravo and three cheers for costume.  Its the opportunity for the most buttoned up of us to cut loose, and the most loosely defined of us to zip it shut for a while.