There’s one person you should never stop dating: yourself. So says teacher Julia Cameron in her 1992 self-help book, The Artist’s Way. She suggests an Artist Date, a regularly scheduled unaccompanied activity, as a tool for refreshing your creative well. It’s an effective form of self-care where you “plan a festive solo expedition” to “enchant yourself,” says Cameron on her vlog. It can be anything from a museum visit to at-home crafting to a walk in the park. If the activity allows your mind to play and find inspiration, it’s an Artist Date.
Although aimed at creatives, Cameron’s concept can be applied to anyone. Who doesn’t need a fun opportunity to flex a little creative muscle? This kind of active rest allows you to be more productive in your day-to-day professional life, avoiding burnout and stoking your mental agility. Cameron emphasizes the importance of handling the activity as a date, saying you need to “woo your own consciousness.” One of the most important aspects of a date that remains unmentioned is the outfit. Enter our edit of designer looks, so whether you’re a spectator, a homebody, or an undaunted explorer, we’ll help you discover and style the ideal look for a date with yourself. Shopping may not be an officially endorsed Artist Date activity, but we’re here to recommend it as a worthy warmup.
Feeling mentally drained? The antidote to an extended output of whatever you consider your creative medium is often to take in something new and inspiring that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.
Where to go: Take yourself to an art show, museum, sculpture garden, or film screening. It’s the sort of thing one tends to do in a group, but going by yourself (ideally, on a quiet weekday—avoid opening night) allows for more honest and uninterrupted dialogue with the subject matter. Whether you’re looking for an escapist or educational experience, it’s up to you. As long as your chosen show sparks interest, the date will be a success.
What to wear: A suitable ensemble for the occasion need only be a slightly elevated take on your everyday casual look, and the easiest way to do that is with a pop of color. Wear IAMISIGO’s Paneled Shirt for the full-colour block experience. The fuchsia and navy panels create a chic contrast between light and dark tones, while feathery fringe detailing on the sleeves ensures heads will turn. The Nigerian label’s design is as practical as it is bold: you have the option to wear it buttoned up as a shirt, or down as a light jacket, while gathers on the front and back panels create an always-present hourglass silhouette. Another strong two-tone piece worthy of this Artist Date is Orange Culture’s Duro Skirt with its diagonal waves separating golden yellow and deep green. If you’d prefer to work just one strong color into your neutrals rotation, IAMISIGO also has a vivid turmeric Paneled Short-Sleeve Overshirt that’s primed to brighten any ensemble with its sunny disposition.
Cameron clarifies that an artist date is for you and for you alone. If you live with family, roommates, or a significant other and want to get creative in your personal space, make sure you schedule a time when you have the place (be it a room or the whole house) for yourself.
Where to go: You don’t need to leave home for an Artist Date. Get crafty on the dining room table, try something different in the kitchen, or get your hands dirty in the garden. It should be noted that any form of relaxation or housework that you already do to unwind won’t have the desired effect. The key factor is a creatively stimulating activity you wouldn’t normally do.
What to wear: Getting creative on home turf requires a look with a certain level of practicality. Still, this is a date, so leggings and a sweatshirt just won’t do. Kenyan label KikoRomeo has just the thing: a trio of fuss-free jumpsuits that elevate their utilitarian design with rich color and dynamic prints, a perfect creative starting point for your date. The Barah style’s sunny saffron cotton fabrication is handwoven by the women of the Pendeza Weaving Project, a Kisumu-based mentorship organization that trains the rural community in the economically viable craft. The Bumi style is tie-dyed by hand, and the Mermoz is painted with bleach to achieve its artist-chic splatter print. If you’re drawn to something a little more conceptual, IAMISIGO’s Short-Sleeve Tie Detail Jumpsuit walks the line between playful frivolity and practicality. Depending on your activity of choice, the jumpsuit’s convertible design allows you to remove the sleeves or shorten the trouser if necessary. You could also detach the upper and lower halves and wear them as separates. If ever there was an outfit primed for creative thinking, this is it.
Whether or not you consider yourself an explorer, if your routine has you locked into a set roster of spaces for over a month, a change of scenery is overdue. A weekend away is ideal, but even an afternoon in a different setting can be the refresher your mind is craving.
Where to go: Accompany yourself on an adventure, close or far, to a place that differs from your daily reality. Explore your city on foot, or drive out to the nearest beach for a walk along the sand. Book a room in that neighboring town you’ve always meant to explore, or just treat yourself to a meal with a view.
What to wear: Commemorate your getaway Artist Date with Industrie Africa’s most effortless statement piece: the printed dress. Senegalese label Dirrablu’s Guddi Black Diago Maxi Dress has a one-shoulder neckline and unstructured cut that feels simultaneously dressed up and relaxed. Zanzibar-based Doreen Mashika’s Tatu Dress strikes a similar balance with its playful print and asymmetric ruffled hem. As an added benefit, the dress is designed to be worn back to front, or front to back. If you’re after something a little more fitted, the Nigerian label NKWO’s tie-dye kaftan emphasizes the waist with a twist front design, while allowing plenty of room for movement with its thigh-high slit. The structured cut of Ghanian label Studio 189’s Mandarin Shirt Dress is offset with a lively hand-batiked dot print. It evokes the sense of occasion you’d expect for a date dress, keeping the mood light and conducive to the creative reset your date will facilitate.
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