Philosopher Eve Garrard, with whom I have previously had an extensive email correspondence about the search for the perfect rose-pink lipstick, has a disquisition on the very subject of The Thoughtful Dresser, here on Normblog
Most of us aren't beautiful - most of us are, at best, good-looking on a good day, plain on a bad one. But for each of us, there's a kind of beauty which we would embody if we lived in a perfect world, however little we may do so here in this mundane workaday sphere. Sometimes we see this clearly in our friends: I have a loved friend, who is tall and slim (as sadly I am not). Again, she's not beautiful: she's pretty on a good day, harassed and worn on a bad one, like the rest of us. But when I look at her, with the eyes of affection, I see her as Modigliani might have done. In a perfect world, she would be a long, vertical Modigliani beauty.
For each one of us, something similar is true, and what the beautifully-cut jacket, the perfect rose-pink lipstick, does is to help us catch a clearer glimpse of that ideal beauty which we so signally fail to realize in our persons here and now (especially when we're wearing an old black fleece with holes in it and hair which hasn't met a serious, or at least an expensive, hairdresser for longer than I'm prepared to reveal on a family blog like this one). And why is it worth spending money, and time, and careful, thoughtful, longing attention, on so fleeting a glimpse of a Platonic ideal, which will never be fully realized? Well, beauty is like that, it's worth seeing for its own sake; and the chance to participate in it, however briefly, is not to be lightly passed up, as any dancer, or musician, or mountain-climber knows. It draws us to itself, and if we want to know more about that, we need to read Plato, or perhaps Yeats