Sunday, 27 April 2014

What does clothing communicate about the wearer?

Clothes are never a frivolity; they always mean something.
- James Laver

My anthropological studies from my student days have affected the way I view clothing. The function of clothing was first to protect the body from the environment and then to differentiate the wearer from his or her neighbours. Jewellery and clothing embellishment thrived, whether with hair, thread, bone, diamonds or metal. Just about any substance, where beauty naturally occurred or was somehow shaped, came to be symbolic of one's wealth, social standing or occupation.

We still use clothing to express ourselves and to indicate our standing in the community or perhaps to communicate what we would like our standing to be. Think of those in legal battles who are told to wear suits to their trials or job applicants who are advised to dress professionally.

Recently the idea of clothing being symbolic of our professions hit the CBC radio interview roster. The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses is running a "wear white campaign" for registered nurses in the province. Owing to feedback from patients, SUN is asking their membership to wear a white top to designate their professional standing. SUN's president says that they are responding to a survey that illustrated clients wanting to know who is attending to them. In the myriad of prints, patterns and colours, patients and their families are confused. As a family member of someone who was recently terminally ill in the hospital, I am one of the "clients" who understands completely and appreciates what SUN is asking their nurses to do. 

Some in the profession are objecting using the "comfort" card for both clients and nurses. The main argument seems to be that professionals wearing colourful clothing is more approachable, less institutional and therefore clients are more comfortable than having "starched whites" attend to them. It seems the survey results differ with this approach. As to personal preference, SUN affirms that the nature of the job dictates that the comfort of the patient comes first.

And so the debate begins . . . but what about the LPNs (licensed practical nurses) and the doctors (oh yes they're the ones with the lab coats and stethoscopes). It will be interesting to see how the nurses respond.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Silent Auction Donation Decision-Making

I have once again been asked to donate a piece to another fundraiser, a woman's night out in May. The set featured is what I did for them last year. When deciding on what "spring" colours to focus on, I went for general appeal rather than something like green, which was a hot colour trend for 2013. I thought of doing all black or all white but then I decided to include both in this set, which is made up of Czech glass "large" seed beads, white quartz and lacy silver plated spheres. As I worked through compiling the piece, the trends of white lace, black and white stripes and the continuation of the statement necklace were in my mind. But that was 2013. I added the drop earrings, although personally I tend not to wear earrings that are that matchy matchy. My personal style would put a black hoop or a silver drop with the necklace rather than the perfect match that I made.

So now I have once again promised to donate a piece or set. Interestingly the rose quartz Y necklacefor Isabel (Monday, March 24, 2014 post) sold higher in February of this year than the black and white set did (a more costly project for the maker). So my thoughts are to go simpler. What are my options? Fuschia? That's what Panetone is proposing this spring. Yikes! I do want it to sell. 

Funny with silent auctions. In some audiences, items go higher in the spirit of the fundraising efforts and in others, the audience is out for a deal. I've heard bidders at some auctions trying to outsmart the system by promising not to outbid each other. So much for the cause. Anyway, I'm still contemplating . . .