Being a vintage lovin’, retro-style-sportin’ modern woman already tends to mean you are more dressed up than anyone else in your general vicinity. It means petticoats and pincurls and red lipstick where other people are rocking skinny jeans and boyfriend cardigans and top knots. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way we dress nor the way anyone else dresses, but because we pinups are already pushing the formality envelope sometimes our heart yearns for the truly glamourous, the achingly old hollywood, and our sensible side tends to tell us to calm down.
It’s one thing to see a gorgeous gingham repro dress with a huge gathered skirt, pockets and a cross strapped neckline and know you’ll wear it to the supermarket if you have to just so you can own it, but another to talk yourself into the floor length velvet gown with the flattering draping and the plunging back. We all know how that feels. You want it. It looks amazing. But really, honestly, realistically, when are you going to wear it? I’ve been in this situation plenty before, most recently in the Collectif changing rooms on a London visit in March as I stood in the velvet green Claudette gown, turning this way and that, telling my friends Sophie and Giselle that I did love it, and yes, it was a steal reduced to £37 from £75, but was I just buying it for the sake of it? Should I be sensible?
God no, they said. And so they should have! “Get it. Get it. You have to get it.” I didn’t take much convincing. And that’s no great surprise. Because I am a loud and proud advocate of wearing what you want, whenever you want. And I don’t just mean wearing a pretty dress when you run errands or being the most overdressed person in your friend group when you go out for coffee. I mean if you have to create an occasion to wear something you love, then you should do it. Not only because that means you get to indulge in dressing up and putting on something that, presumably, makes you feel incredible, enough so that it got stuck in your head in the first place. Also because in this life, this short space of time we have that is not only definitely not infinite but also of an unknown length for each of us, I fully support anything that means you decide to make a random, typical day or night special just for the hell of it.
For me, that meant telling my three best friends that I wanted to wear my fancy new gown and I thought it would be fun for us all to get dressed up on an early summer’s eve and wear glamorous things while we ate a three course meal by candlelight and fairylights in my garden, watching the sun set. Just deciding we were going to do that for the pure sake of my Claudette gown was fun and exciting, because I know any evening I spend with my best friends is bound to be a great one.
The funny thing is, after prepping the main course the night before so I could wake up early to do my full face of makeup especially before work and leaving my pincurls in all day at the warehouse so my set would be perfect, after getting home and getting all dolled up and taking pictures to put in this blog post telling you to have a glamorous night for the sake of it–my whole night kind of imploded. I was packing away my tripod and camera, bling at my throat and red lipstick ready to be food-ruined, when I got a text from my friend Laura telling me she was stuck in such bad traffic that she didn’t know how late she was going to be for our special night. My friend Menna replied saying she was running late too. Our friend Juliette had already cancelled earlier in the day due to family health issues. My special evening was evaporating. No one would be ready on time, a part of my gut said Laura might not make it at all because if I were her I would not feel like going out to be sociable after being stuck in traffic for hours after already having a horrific work day.
It was all falling apart.
But, really, I didn’t care. Seeing my friends was more important than wearing my fancy dress. I hadn’t seen them for two weeks, though we usually met weekly, and I wanted to catch up with them, see their faces.
“Let’s just forget the garden party and do it like a normal meet up, shall we? That way you don’t have to bother getting all dolled up when you get home, Lau. You can get here sooner and we can all eat and just hang out.”
Laura agreed. She came to my house straight from the road, still in her work uniform. Menna ditched her planned outfit and turned up in shorts and a vest top. I unlaced my corset, wiggled out of my dress, ditched the heels and met them at the door in my red lipstick and pincurls and pyjamas.
We ate three courses still and laughed as usual and the night was still special anyway because the tinge of doing something special and making an effort lingered far sweeter than any tinge of traffic messing everything up. When you have good friends you can just as easily get super dressed up with them and feel unjudged as you can wearing your sweats around them.
I think it’s important to allow yourself the room to make a special effort and do something different and indulge your silly little fashion fantasies. Because what’s the point in anything at all if you can’t even choose to wear something special every once in a while? I don’t think a life full of rules and expectations and restrictions that rigid is one I’m interested in.
If you want to get the dress, get the dress. And wear it. Create the event. Enjoy a fancy dinner with your best friends as a celebration of your friendship. Have a super special date night with your partner. Take your parents to the theatre. Hell, get all dressed up, take a shit load of selfies and watch the sunset by yourself as you think about how fragile and lucky and beautiful everything is, yourself included. Let life be the event. It’s not invitation only and there’s no dress code. Wear whatever you want, darling. It’s your party.