Archive for May, 2012

21 Days of Dresses Challenge

May 28, 2012

21 Days of Dresses Challenge, originally uploaded by pennylrichardsca.

Christine Lewicki was my neighbor for several years–our daughters are close in age and still enjoy seeing each other every chance.  She also happens to be a best-selling author in France, a creative teacher of French, and one of the best party-throwers I know.  I like wearing dresses and skirts anyway, so when she set a 21-day challenge on Facebook, to wear a dress or skirt everyday for three weeks, I was in.  Turned out, about ninety other women thought it was a fun idea too.  Some rarely wear dresses and skirts; for them it was a challenge of doing things differently.  Some have worries about showing their arms, or legs, and being photographed; for them it was a challenge of body image.  I already like to wear dresses and skirts, and I’m fairly comfortable with my shape, so I used the challenge to think about my wardrobe and to learn about how much of it I actually enjoy wearing. Now. Not twenty years ago, not twenty pounds ago.

Some things I learned from the challenge:

1.  I have a lot of clothes.  Okay, I already knew that, but I really have way, way more everyday dresses than most people do.  Which is fine if they fit and I wear them, take care of them, etc.  This challenged helped me see which things were worth the storage space and laundry duty, and which probably need to move along into another closet (or be remade into something that interests me more). In the course of this challenge, I cleared several unwearable dresses from my closet; I dyed three dresses; I mended a few; I made a new dress from two thrifted garments (and some scrap fabric from a third).

2.  A dress is no-fuss dressing.  It seems like we’re trained to think the opposite–a dress, it’s dressy!–but honestly, a good day dress has the virtue of being one garment–no matching, no layers or fuss, just pop it on and go.  It already matches itself.  You can get dressed in the dark and be confident that it’ll be okay.

3.  Aprons are a dress-wearer’s best friend.  I was fine to wear a dress and wash dishes, bake cookies, care for kids, eat lunch, even paint–because I have a sturdy denim apron.  That also makes the pocket question moot–serious aprons nearly always have pockets.  (Some, these days, even have a buttonhole and interior pocket for your iPod or phone, to keep it away of splashes and spills.) 

4.  Dressing for a “special day” can make a special day.  I remember someone telling me to dress my baby daughter up in all her cute clothes whenever the mood struck, and not “save” them for special days. Maybe someone should say that to the moms too.  Why wait for someone else to decide the day calls for a dress?  You don’t need a party invitation.  Wear a dress anyway, just because it’s fun.

5.  There are dresses for every kind of weather.  It was funny–the women in France were insisting that they couldn’t wear cute dresses because it was too cold there; but meanwhile, I’m looking longingly at my cozy wool dresses and sweater-knit tights, which could never pass for spring gear in Southern California.    I tend to wear long dresses more than short, and layer them with cardigans, crinolines, underskirts, overdresses, whatever–perfectly fine options for the complete range of May weather here.

6.  A dress makes the day-into-evening transition more definite.  By this, I don’t mean evening-after-work-drinks-and-dancing; I don’t have that kind of life!  I mean, the moment you say, I’m home now, I’m in for the night, I can change into my loungy pajamas and sit down with a nice drink or my crochet project and relax, decompress.  I like having that be a decision, rather than the default mode.

What will I wear tomorrow?  Probably a skirt and a t-shirt, which is my typical choice.