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Abigail Joanne

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What do you think of when you read the word embodiment? You might be familiar with the term if you do Yoga, or if you take part in anything within the health and wellness field. Embodiment, however, is for everyone. Embodiment is you

It’s the whole of you, and it’s the quiet space that gives you the opportunity to choose how you respond to your day-to-day responsibilities and the things that you do for yourself. I believe that by practising embodiment we can have a better relationship with our clothes, from the purchase choices we make to the longevity of our connection to them. Here I will explore the main tools of embodiment (which you have access to right now) plus how to harness the benefits for your wardrobe. 

Mark Walsh is the Co-founder of EFC (Embodied Facilitator Course) and he says that embodiment is “how we are…our manner of being…the context for which we feel, we relate, we think, for which we perceive the world and for which we take action.”

So with that in mind, how can we put embodiment into practice? Some tools to consider are:

Attention 

What we focus on could be considered as what we find important or interesting. In some ways, it could align with your personal values. For example, if you value quality time with friends, you might stop what you are doing and focus your attention on them if they call you. When I consider for myself where I might feel attention in the body, I am drawn to my face and my shoulders.

Intention 

Something that we want and plan to do. Being clear about our intentions and following through with them is good self-care. I notice a warm sensation in my chest when I think about the word intention.

Posture 

The way someone holds their head, shoulders and back, or how one holds themselves when sitting, standing, etc. Remembering to stand up tall, with your shoulders rolled up, back, and down plus holding your head high is a quick and easy tool to become mindful of your posture. For me, going inward to feel where my tailbone is helped me to readjust my posture.

Breathing

The inhale and exhale of air. Even just one big, mindful breath a day can create positive ripple effects. Try focusing your attention on the space between your upper lip, and the place where air is inhaled through your nose. Notice the air-breathing in and falling out. At the time of writing this, I am noticing my forearms, feeling the rise and fall of my breath through them.

Movement

To change position, whether it’s fast or slow, free in its style or learnt actions, moving with intention or attention can refresh the mind and get you out of any sluggish or stuck states. When I think of the word movement, I notice my hips, my knees and my shins wake up. 

Did you notice any parts of your body while reading this? The act of noticing is simple and it’s also enough. We are so used to tools and strategies being very much based in the mind, quick in pace with an expectation of some sort of productive result. What I’m discussing here is a softer, quieter approach to life. One that will give you the value of its meaning and encourage you to stick with it. 

So what does this have to do with fashion?

Well, by engaging with any or all of these tools, you might start to notice little shifts. You might look out of your window and notice something that you’ve seen a million times before, but now see in a different light. Or, you might look in your wardrobe and notice an item of clothing that you haven’t worn for a while. You might pull it out, and recall a bracelet or a scarf that you think would go well with it. The beauty really is in not knowing what could come up for you by creating this headspace, and just being open and receptive to whatever does.

Most importantly, this headspace allows for a calmer sense of being, and when we feel this way we have better access to really choose our choices

Other benefits of embodied practices: 

  • Helps us get into the here and now.
  • Allows us to be more flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing moments of our days. 
  • Improves relationships.

So before you make plans to check out the new Spring 2021 arrivals, try out some of these tools or grab that old bag of clothes from underneath your bed and see if you can see anything old in a new light. #slowfashion 

When was the last time you dressed up? Was it for a Zoom date? A work meeting? Or was it some time last summer? 

Archetypes can be used as a way to get to know yourself more intimately, helping you to choose clothes that feel more authentic and appropriate to the roles you are playing in your day to day life. We will explore how this can be done by reflecting on some of your favourite characters and tuning in to yourself with mindful questions, and some examples to get your imaginative juices flowing. 

What are ‘Archetypes?’

Archetypes, as coined by psychologist Carl Jung are “universal, archaic symbols and images that derive from the collective unconscious”. These take the form of fundamental characters such as the Lover, the Hero, the Jester, or the Caregiver

We see archetypes presented in stories, whether that’s in the books that we’re reading or the films that we’re watching. Fairy tales, in particular, draw upon the use of archetypes, but there’s no reason why we can’t use this framework for human identity as a way to experiment with our own roles in society and build outfits around the characteristics we possess. 

I’ve chosen a couple of Netflix favourites to illustrate my point. In the Netflix series The Queens Gambit, we see Beth go from a young Orphan to Hero and Muse. As she becomes a giant in her field, she makes a conscious wardrobe transition from one that is childlike, clumsy and innocent to amplify herself as a stylish, successful, multi-faceted woman. 

Art by Esther Kim via Peter Belen, Pinterest

In the Netflix film My Happy Family, we see Manana appear worn out and tired with her busy demanding family life. Her hair is dishevelled and she seems to blend into the clothes that are wrapped around her consolingly. As we see her take control of her life and create a space of her own, we also see her hair become tamed, and her garments reflect her newfound sense of freedom. It’s a very subtle shift, and I think this character is a great example of the light and the dark side to the archetypal Mother/(Caregiver).

How can we use archetypes to creatively inform our clothing decisions? 

This is where your very own creative touch will come in. Denim for me might symbolize the Mother, yet to another person, it might symbolize the Rebel. The point is, when you identify your very own archetypes and tastes, you will feel more embodied and so, you will rock whatever outfit or selected accessory you go for.

Here are some simple steps to help you tune into your body and find which ones resonate with you: 

1. Identify archetypes.

Who are some of your favourite characters from books, TV and film? What characteristics do they possess? 

2. Identify symbols, imagery, shapes and colour

What visual associations come to mind when you first think of these archetypes? For example, extravagant gowns and jewellery for the Ruler, mixed prints and bright colours for the Jester.

3. Identify your own taste

What might some of your own, unique associations be? You can see examples on my Hero mood board below. 

The backdrop for my Hero look is an image of the Scottish countryside. I don’t know if it’s because of the number of films that I have seen that feature strong archetypes (think Outlaw King), or if it’s because for me a Hero archetype is symbiotic with nature. The rough terrain combined with splashes of colour blown by a strong wind conjures up images of horses (which are inherently symbols of strength) and feelings of freedom. The first piece I selected is an antique locket necklace. The Hero is someone who holds their loved ones close to their heart and is a person of honour. Having such a trinket close to the chest acts as a symbol of intimacy. Next, I picked a sheepskin coat, in a longer length to maintain a feminine aesthetic. Lace-up knee-high boots are practical and quite frankly, badass. And finally, a natural glowing makeup look to reinforce the values I associate with the Hero: open, bold, kind and true. 

Have a play around and see what you can create. There is no limit to who we can be.