Dressing Up?

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

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.

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