I believe folks that we have our very first U.K. Seven Days of Dapper submission. dapperQ first met Kamalanandi via Facebook and extended an invitation to Kamalanandi to share some personal style with our readers.
My name is Kamalanandi, I’m 38 years old, and I live in Sheffield, U.K. I have two children and have my own business as a furniture maker. I also work as a technician for the Women’s Construction Centre in Sheffield. My name is a Buddhist name; It was given to me when I got ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order. I have been practising Buddhism for 16 years and was ordained 2 years ago. I use this name almost full-time now.
I came across dapperQ via Facebook 6 months ago and it has been a key part of a particular stage in my life. It’s been a great inspiration and support, giving me the courage to try out new stuff and explore clothes I hadn’t tried yet. For me, clothes are incredibly important. I really enjoy colour and texture, and had a radical discovery when I worked out my “colours” (Colour Me Beautiful) and am now only wearing my Autumn shades. About a year ago, I had cut my hair very short, had all the highlights cut out, and suddenly felt at a loss for what to wear. It was a revelation to discover the difference only wearing the colours that really suit my hair, skin, and eyes makes. Apart from really looking better, it also makes it very easy creating a capsule wardrobe!
I’ve been very conscious of the language of clothing for a long time, the links to pop culture, politics, gender and sexuality. As a child, I loved dressing-up, and I still do. Even though clothing is important to me, I also don’t take it too seriously – it is play. My hair has been all lengths and my hair was long when I came out as lesbian (which I wasn’t, I found out a few years later that I was bi, tho’ now I don’t even feel comfortable with that description – pansexual is more like it, but it still feels like a new term and not a lot of folk get it… people are still getting their heads around what bisexuality is!). All the gay girls around me had short hair and I felt I had more in common with the drag queens; I liked heels and makeup. It didn’t take long before I cut and dyed my hair in order to be accepted. I always regret this, it wasn’t me. I have cut my hair short a few more times since then, once before the birth of my first child to save on work (when it’s long it is high maintenance!) and then again a year ago as I wanted a break. It is my current hairstyle that has led the way on how I am dressing right now. I remember being envious of cis-male friends rocking beards and side partings, waistcoats and pocket watches and wondering how I could do that. Once my hair took its shape, the rest followed and I really am still surprised that I am wearing shirts, ties and bow ties. And loving it!
Meeting my current partner has also had an effect on my clothing choices. She is non-gendered and trans female, and I have felt very free to explore my own gender and sexuality with her. When I heard the term “genderqueer” I felt I had found a description of myself. So far, in this lifetime, I have felt myself to be different things at different times – a girl, a tomboy, moments of feeling like a straight man, a gay man, feeling like a woman and right now something that can’t be defined so easily anymore. I can’t really even think about gender any more, it doesn’t feel relevant. This time I am not doing anything to fit in with anyone, only to fit in with how I am feeling.
So, here’s my Seven Days of Dapper!
I’m at the train station to meet my girlfriend. We are in a LDR, so we’re at the station a lot. I’m wearing an old coat handed down to me from my big sister, originally from Marks & Spencer. The cardigan is a hand-knit given to me by my elderly neighbour. Jeans from Fat Face, shoes by Camper, red leather driving gloves are a family heirloom. Shirt from a charity shop, but originally Next for Men, and brown velvet bow-tie from a vintage shop. I’m on a fairly low income, so don’t have a lot to spend on clothes. But also from an ethical perspective, I value wearing pre-owned clothing.
A walk out through part of the city taking in a large cemetery, where these photos were taken, and where a lot of the founding families of the city’s steel industry are buried. Shirt above – goodness me it was hard to find a shirt to fit! I wanted a man’s dress shirt, but found it impossible to get something to fit at all the key points; So, this one is a compromise, as it really doesn’t fit across the hips. But I mostly tuck it in anyway, so you wouldn’t know. Bow-tie from a vintage shop, jumper from H+M, trousers from Fat Face, socks from H+M, and shoes from a vintage shop. These shoes were a total find! I love brogues and was on a mission to get some brogue boots, but being vegan made it slightly tricky. I tried and returned a few pairs for their poor fit and build quality. I have a personal rule with leather that if it’s second hand, I feel okay to buy it. Not all vegans do and I can understand that. When I saw these shoes, I was in awe of them but wouldn’t get them because of the cost. I went all round the city looking for boots like this but to no avail. So, I went back and got them, because they are quality and a perfect fit (UK Size 6). They are made by a company called Trickers (by appointment to HRH Prince Charles, no less!) and they get a lot of attention when I wear them.
Off to the countryside for a walk. Just 15 minutes’ drive out of the city and you are in the Peak District, a beautiful National Park. The history of fashion has always interested me, and I like the period when women (in Western Europe) started wearing trousers largely due to WW1 and WW2 when women took traditionally male employment, as the men were away fighting. And with land girl culture during WW2, what I am wearing in this shot is a nod to that and to traditional male attire of that time too. The knitted tie is from a vintage shop, as is the shirt which was also a great find as it fits me everywhere AND is my perfect colours! The cardigan is a hand-knit from a charity shop, brown cords from Howies, socks from H+M and the walking boots are Meindl.
Out and about with my girlfriend in Devon, southwest England. We took the train to Exeter, did some shopping and went to a great café. A lot of what I’m wearing here is the same as in the other shots except the fabulous vintage silk tie my girlfriend got me from eBay. My dapper wardrobe is very much a capsule wardrobe, which is great as so much of it is interchangeable. This is the great thing about sticking to my colours; It really helps. I wanted to show with this shoot that you don’t need complete separate outfits to have an effective look.
This is the kind of thing I would wear to an evening at my Buddhist Centre. When I am at work, I am very scruffy. so I like to come home and get showered and put on something smarter. The waistcoat is from a vintage shop. Tie and shirt as above, trousers from ebay but originally Next for Women, shoes by Camper. When I am at the Buddhist Centre, I wear my kesa (the strip of silk you can see me wearing in the seated picture). It has a key Buddhist emblem embroidered on it and for us is the equivalent of robes. We are a non-monastic tradition that puts emphasis on commitment to practice over lifestyle, so my ethical practice expresses itself through my parenting, my work, my relationships and how I support others on the Buddhist path.
At my workshop. I am wearing retro Carhartt dungarees. They used to belong to my girlfriend. I love traditional workwear and have long been a fan of Carhartt. I only wear these for work and tend to just put them on over the trousers I left the house in as they are massive and the workshop is very cold in the winter.
Working at home. I often need to be on my laptop, working on drawings, a quote or finances. I am wearing my beloved old brown rollneck, bought years ago from a supermarket and some great denim jeans from a vintage shop, made by Red Kap.
So that’s my 7 Days of Dapper, thank you for letting me share it with you. It’s been an almost therapeutic experience and has given me cause to reflect on the semiotics of gender and the human-made cultural constraints of clothing. Enjoy your clothes, have fun dressing up!
Photography by Melanie Freitag and Padmavyuha