I'm ditching loungewear and now wearing my fancy frocks to watch the box
WEARING a baggy T-shirt and joggers, slumped on the sofa with my hand deep in a bag of crisps . . . it was a scene I re-enacted almost daily during lockdown.
And I know I wasn’t alone. Loungewear sales soared 49 per cent in April as the nation ripped off rigid jeans and replaced them with loose pyjama bottoms.
Yet as we inch ever closer to national lockdown 2.0, I refuse to return to Slobsville. As a self-confessed fashion addict, I love clothes shopping.
And in a time when, frankly, there is little to be cheerful about, why would I give up one of the things that truly makes me happy?
In fact, I’m going a step further and actively dressing up, no matter if the most exciting thing I do that day is make a cuppa.
I’m talking sequins to the supermarket, heels for hoovering and dramatic dresses to do the dishes.
If having my big, fat, fancy wedding cancelled by Covid restrictions twice this year has taught me anything, it’s that there is simply no point in saving your “best” for best any more.
In life BC (Before Covid), I relished that fashion buzz, constantly buying bits and pieces to put new looks together. I had a tier system when it came to outfits. No not THAT tier system — my own style version.
In tier one were the loose, unsexy sweats reserved solely for hangover days. Tier two had the stylish pieces for work and casual socialising. The top tier, the holy grail of my wardrobe, was exclusively for special occasions.
I would flat out refuse to wear any “high alert” outfits before their special day arrived.
I wouldn’t wear a fancy frock to the local spit-and-sawdust pub and risk ruining it, nor chance any pictures of me in said outfit making their way on to social media before the event. Can you imagine?
My style willpower was quite something. If only I had that same willpower when it comes to a packet of biscuits, but that’s a different story.
Following its one outing, the outfit would often hang for months — sometimes years — gathering dust in my wardrobe, never to be worn again — but admired with pride every time I looked at the rail.
But as 2020 plunged the nation into confinement, instead of filling me with joy, the sight of my sequinned and tulle garments drowned me in misery. Each one signified a friend’s wedding, special birthday or fancy do — happy events that I might not experience again for months, maybe years.
And who even was I, if I couldn’t get dolled up? But I felt I couldn’t justify wearing my best garms if I had no one to impress apart from the Deliveroo driver. Before I knew it, an elasticated waistband had become all the permission I needed to down make-up tools and set up camp in front of Selling Sunset.
Sure, I would change my top if I had one of those insufferable Zoom quizzes to attend, or a work video call, but the second they were over the old moth-bitten fleece would be back on.
More often than not I was braless, too. Because what crazed woman would willingly cage her boobs to leave lattice marks on her skin if she was staying in?
Yes, I was definitely comfortable in my loungewear, but within a couple of weeks I had morphed into a person I didn’t recognise. My posture drooped and I spoke in monosyllabic grunts about dinner. Slouchy outfits made for slouchy behaviour.
I’d never worn clothes to impress others before, why had I stopped trying to impress myself? I’d forgotten the power of dressing up — and, let me tell you, it’s pure magic. Dr Dawnn Karen, a fashion psychologist and the author of Dress Your Best Life, believes clothes really can give us a boost.
She says: “With such draconian measures inflicted upon us, we lack autonomy right now. Selecting something we like to wear gives us a sense of control in a world full of uncertainty. We might be feeling anxious, frustrated or fatigued, but dressing up is a way of alleviating those negative emotions.”
Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has been a champion of this for years. Posting snaps of herself online wearing ridiculously glamorous outfits to take out the bins last spring might have been criticised as attention seeking. But ladies, she was on to something.
Who are we to judge if someone feels good in their clothes? As I ditched my dressing gown for dressing up and finally got to slip on my new lockdown looks, the change in my mood was nothing short of miraculous. For the foreseeable future, we are living in limbo and unable to make proper plans.
It’s natural to feel anxious, but all we really have is the here and now, so why wait? If you have a passion for something, you should pursue it — and I won’t apologise for mine.
Browsing Zara’s website, getting Asos deliveries, meticulously planning an outfit and getting dressed up to the nines are a few of life’s simple pleasures — and I won’t let lockdown measures get in my way.
Who cares about being all dressed up with nowhere to go? I’m now wearing my Spanx and sparkles to fill the dishwasher and fancy frocks to watch the box. My loungewear is officially on furlough and I beg you to give yours some time off too.
- Joely Chilcott is a freelance fashion editor, stylist and writer
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