Ain’t nobody got thyme for that! Weed it and reap
If there’s one thing the Brits love to talk about it’s the weather. We revel in its unpredictability, it’s a necessity, not just a conversation filler but a conversation-starter. In this current climate, us Brits have been luckier than most - the weather has been so gorgeously dreamy for the entirety of lockdown. I feel even more fortunate; I have a lovely English country garden in which to wile away my lockdown days. But the question pops up each morning as the light seeps through and cracks open my eyelids: what to wear for our glorious stay-cation, particularly if the weather turns and is so reliably mixed during a British June? I ask if dressing up just to sit in my own garden is worth the effort. I put on makeup, I adorn my neck with jewellery, and I zip (growing) torso into white lace and wrap robes, all to.. what? Have afternoon tea with myself? Or worse - my parents! As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I do, and I invite my grandparents from next door to elevate the conversation.
Before this situation forced us all indoors, I used to think the only reason I would dress and make myself up was to see other people. Vain I know, but unfortunately the patriarchal structured internet has indoctrinated me into thinking that I need to look my best in order to impress. BUT - looking my best doesn’t have to equal feeling my best. I’ve worn makeup for a total of five days in four months, the longest I’ve gone bare-faced for roughly ten years. I’ve also grown very much accustomed to the comfort of lounge suits, ie joggers and a vest top (see previous post.) This combination of going au-natural led to the realisation that when I do put on makeup and a pretty dress to take tea in the garden, it makes it feel that much more special.
Recently the weather has been mixed: chilly but bright. So I am faced with the classic phialsophical dilemma: to jacket or not to jacket? Usually invitation-worthy events are held indoors, so indecision over whether to bring a coat need not an agony. Cardigans for the win, I say, embrace isolation-station! My grandparents, who love to indulge in afternoon tea, have taken it upon themselves to host this 3pm soiree once a week. Sitting outside is mandatory, (classic northerners) but instead of just throwing on my dressing gown and trudging downstairs, I choose to formalise the occasion. I will not be held hostage in my own house by pyjamas, I will dress up, I will put on makeup, and I will have a good time. I don’t feel my best because I look my best; I look my best because I feel it.
But what kind of formal wear does this kind of home-grown situation warrant? It’s always a family affair, and we are many in number, so that’s one level of formality down, and I won’t actually be leaving my garden, so that pulls accessories out of the equation. I don’t need my purse (for once!) I opt for classic white lace, pastel linens in lilacs, greens, and yellows, enhanced by a dignified low-key locket. I think ahead about wearing heels in soil and grass, so plump for pumps, mules or good ol’ espadrilles.
Colourful robust ruche details provide me with a licence to frill, whilst frills themselves become the unsung heroes of our gardens, injecting wardrobes with a much-needed dose of optimism. Simple yet vibrant colours remind us not to give up hope. For a more understated look, champion the great plains and prairie blouses: wearable whites, tantalising terracottas, boastful beiges. For those of you seeking drama and theatricality, balloon sleeves and belligerent bling are sure to take leading roles on any stay-at-home-stage.
As a person who finds it difficult to be out of control, lockdown certainly has me feeling more than a little claustrophobic, but four going on five months later, I’ve learned to appreciate what I have. There’s no point dwelling on not being able to go out for coffee - laden yourself in lace and lather up your own latte. Don’t think about how you’d rather be on a beach in Marbs - pitch up the paddling pool and pull out your pastels. It’s no use mourning over those missed nights out - concoct a cocktail and self-cocoon in a comforting cardigan. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that clothes exude one superpower: the ability to transport their wearer to faraway lands - even when your mum says “it’s too cold for that dress”. I don’t make up the mules in my house, but I certainly set the dress code.