Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reckoning, and Reckoning Up

Last fall in the closet, several costumes and I had an unpleasant reckoning.

Pulling out the 1795 cream silk robe and petticoats and the 1790s transitional stays that go with them, I pulled the stays around me and tugged, and tugged, and tugged. Oh, were they uncomfortable. Did I feel like I was compressed into a barrel, splorging out top and bottom. Ug, unappetizing, too.

Then, fitting both arms into the gown sleeves, I eased into the gown...and stuck fast. Arms pinned back behind me, sleeves half on, movement restricted by the stays.

For a few minutes it was a toss up whether I'd have to call down to my husband for help in escaping, or rip the sleeves getting them off-- they never did make it to my shoulders. With lots of slow wriggling, I worked the gown off in one piece, bummed but philosophic. The dress is over a decade old, and I am closing in on 60. Bodies change.

If that dress didn't fit, the 1870 dress surely wouldn't, and I didn't bother attempting to squeeze into it, even though the stays still fit decently.

What about the 1880s pink lawn dress I bought fairly recently after falling in love with the rosy color? That ought to fit. Nope...I tried in front of the mirror but the buttons at the bust would never kiss the buttonholes.

A bit of panic, a bit of self-disgust.

Now for the 1780s gown, from Verdanta on Etsy, purchased because I loved the striped silk and was time-crunched in front of an event, that I trimmed with some of my antique lace at neck and wrists. Good ---, we'll let that moment slide. The sleeves were like sausage casings and the front only worked if the bodice was set as a flyaway with stomacher.

And so it went. Out of everything I love, only the 18th century English gown, made in 2015 from the Golden Scissors pattern, still fit, thanks to the stomacher and a more generous cut. And the unfinished 1895 outfit.

Age, Illnesses...

If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I live with multiple chronic illnesses. Lack of energy for physical activity, medication side effects, and age-abetted settling of fat, have slowly morphed this body.

For whatever reasons, perhaps some of you are in the boat with me. It's a very human phenomenon.

For long I accepted decay of my abilities as inevitable and frankly lacked the energy to exercise to make it even a whit better. After all, if a trip up the stairs entails a stop midway, to muster muscle energy for the rest of the steps, even a walk is exhausting to mull over, much less attempt.

I wrote last year about regaining strength after a 2018 skiing accident (it was wildly stupid to go back to the slopes to begin with), and until last fall had rebuilt some strength, but the body? Well, the Reckoning showed I had a long way to go.

Fighting Back Harder

Enter Pilates, on Reformer machines, which are bizarre contraptions. I added this class to the mix, and the body responded surprisingly rapidly. I am much stronger, the areas from bust to feet are slimming and toughening slowly. Brain fogs and sad moods which used to hit every few days are rarer now. It's slow going, and I compare myself to a box turtle for speed, but tell myself that turtles know that incremental change is safest.

Still, the clothes are not yet at fitting point. Darned if I will make any more in bigger sizes. Some of these, and some beloved summer clothes, Are. Going. To. Fit.

It's the moment to kick exercise up a notch. Two years in, time for a good push.

Time is scarce. Thus, I am scaling back on hobbies, except for finishing the research on the 1895 outfit and some peaceful moments spinning Lana and Nina's wool, oh and maybe some desperately needed napkins.

When some of the garments fit again, we can reassess. They won't all, and setbacks happen -- have had two interruptions for small surgeries in the last 10 months. Maybe something will go very wrong: it has in the past. That's fine. Yet a mission's a good thing: it gives a person an end point to work towards.

Perhaps you have your own mission of one sort of another. I salute you: allons-y!

Off we go!


Next time, more on holding out those 1890s skirts. Or that's the plan, anyhow :}


The Quintessential Clothes Pen said...

Ahhh, I'm so sorry to hear your struggles in all things and the clothes specifically! But I also applaud you for moving ahead at any speed, box turtle or not. It's wonderful that you've found exercise you are able to do and that you're making time for it. I hope that your strength returns as well as the ability to wear the clothes in your historical closet!


ZipZip said...

Thank you so kindly, Quinn! Plugging away, and it's feeling springy out, which always helps!

Very best to you,