I am not a fashion blogger, nor do I obsessively follow fashion magazines and influencers to keep abreast of the latest trends. If I go into a shop (because I’ve had too many bad experiences with online shopping) and I like something, I try it on and then I buy the item. It may therefore seem strange that my first post is going to be about a dress.
This particular dress was bought in the spring of 2013 as I prepared to finish university and mark the occasion with a trip to Barcelona with my friends. At this point, I must commend Dorothy Perkins on the quality of this dress as it’s still in excellent condition to this day, which cannot be said for anything else I bought that year. The dress itself probably won’t make anyone stop and stare; it’s a floral tea dress with a ruffled neckline and elasticated waist which falls just above my knees. I always wear it with leggings as I’m a little bit too tall to avoid flashing people if I wear it on a windy day. However, I wore it recently and it dawned me just how much I’ve been through with this dress. It’s been there as my shape has increased and decreased, it’s supported me through awkward, as well as lovely, first dates, I’ve worn it to concerts, swing dance socials, work, events, the cinema and, of course, on holiday. For me, it’s become the outfit that I throw on when I’m not sure what to wear but, somehow, it suits every occasion and doesn’t make me too stressed about my appearance. I bet you have an outfit like that, too.
Despite not being a fashion follower, I find it fascinating the meaning that we put behind clothes. I have plenty of outfits that remind of a specific time in my life, or ones that I will only permit myself to wear for special occasions in case, somehow, their ‘specialness’ wears off. The flip side of that is that I also have plenty of comfort clothes which I wear when I want to feel cosy or safe but would never dream of leaving the house in. Lockdown has definitely increased this feeling for me; as uncertainty has grown in the world, I have developed a new appreciation for feeling protected inside in an ancient hoodie.
I truly believe that attaching meaning to clothes is universal. For example, the wedding industry makes its money on our view that what we wear on the day of our nuptials must be the most beautiful outfit we’ve ever worn, or when we visit certain people or attend different events, there is usually a dress code, whether it’s formally specified or not. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve squeezed into Spanx to try and fit in with the accepted aesthetic of a night out in Cardiff before deciding I’d rather just wear something that I love. I appreciate that the meaning we attach to clothes does get mixed up with how we think we’ll be viewed by other people but, ultimately, how we feel about our clothes is an emotional attachment that we form for ourselves.
And so I come back to my trusty tea dress; an outfit that I bought for a city break that has become a surprising source of comfort. It’s versatility and endurance has somehow made it perfect for me and I really hope that it sticks around for more memorable moments. I might even treat it to cocktails if it reaches its tenth birthday.