Thursday, 29 January 2009

When Did Everybody Stop Playing Dress-ups?

Alternative title: Flamboyance Vs. The Social Uniform: The Sartorial Death Match

When I was little, like most little girls (and some AWESOME boys), I played dress-ups all the time.

My favourite thing to wear was my mother’s old debutante dress, dyed blue and clumsily hacked off around my feet. Playing dress-ups influenced my ideas about practical dressing so much so that when I pretended to run away, aged six, I packed only my most ‘essential’ clothes: Riding boots, a silver shawl and a white puff-sleeved flower girl dress. All stuffed into a Garfield satchel.

These days, I often experience a kind of struggle when I dress. I wrestle with what Sark calls the fear of being “too much” – dressing too extravagantly, standing out from the crowd. By the time we reach adulthood, a lot of us have already begun practising ‘unconscious dressing’ –clothes become nothing more than glorified fig leaves. It becomes habit to throw on some trousers and a t-shirt and start the day. Which is fine, of course – clothes, style, fashion – in the end it’s no more than fabulous window dressing. I get it. But blending in is just not for me. From the plastic tiaras, silver shawls and two-hats-at-any-given-time obsessions of my childhood, to the three tutus that are tucked into my wardrobe as I write this, I am, and always have been, a dresser-upperer.

What I am not is an unconscious dresser.

So why am I nearly always tempted to dress to be invisible?

If you read this blog, you’re probably a fan of playing dress-ups as well. You love shopping, or perusing or, and deciding what to wear each day is an adventure of sorts. That’s what I love about the blogging community.

But re-watching this old video, Ellen von Unwerth’s Wendybird, which has made its way around the internet countless times, reminded me that in the real world, the meat world, whatever you call it, while people dress up for certain occasions – not many people play dress ups anymore. What’s the difference? The approach.

And that if I want to keep playing dress-ups and going out into the world, I’ll have to just suck it up and stand out a little bit.

Von Unwerth’s Wendybird:

This kind of topic – and idea of playing with your clothes (like playing with your food! Haha) – is endlessly fascinating to me, because it’s more about the people wearing the clothes than the clothes themselves, and I'd like to write about it a little more from time to time. If you don’t agree with any of these things I say, though, don’t worry – I’m just thinking out loud here.


futurelint said...

I just wandered over to your blog for the first time today and I LOVE this post! I feel the same way! I tend to wear "little costumes" to work and out and about and everyone makes this BIG DEAL out of it. I love the "why are you so dressed up?" comments. And I'm like, oh, no reason, I wear this to the grocery store... or to work where I get covered in blood and puke every day (I'm a school nurse). I always have a bad day if I'm dressed boring. I don't love being stared at, but I just have to think, "I love myself, I'm proud of myself, here I am! look if you must..." And, it always makes my day when I see eccentric old ladies dressed boldly, so hopefully my little costumes brighten the day of someone at the bus stop!

laura said...

this post is fantastic! in the cheap date guide to style (that i read some time ago and loved), they also tried to encourage people to "play dress-ups" more often, to try new things, to be someone else if you want, to have fun with clothes, basically. i really like that idea! grown-ups are much too rational when it comes to clothes.

Pony said...

futurelint - Thank you! I'm so glad you wear little costumes too!! More people should dress like you - I bet you brighten everyone's day!

Laura - EXACTLY! I mean, sometimes it's smart to think practically about clothes, but it's like all the fun and wonder has been sucked out of dressing by the sheer force of adulthood.

Trisha said...

We appreciate your support of SARK! Have you seen the launch of SARK's fabulous new affiliate program called SARK SHARE (SHARE stands for SARK's Happy Affiliate Revenue Earnings).

Check it out here:

If you post an enthusiastic word about SARK’s Awesome Anytime Adventure in at least one online location between now and October 31, you’ll receive an exclusive invitation to a LIVE Virtual Vacation with SARK: a telephone gathering on Thursday, November 4, in which SHARE Team Members will get to gather live with SARK to explore new adventures together! (The call will be recorded if you can’t attend live.)