A fashionable defence of getting dressed up


Mairi Hughes

IN 2020, nearly every single clothing retailer across the world found themselves facing unprecedented demand for one thing—loungewear. Online fashion retailer, Misguided, saw a 700 per cent increase in the sale of joggers and leggings, while clothing and cosmetic retailer Asos reported a 329 per cent surge in their profits as demand for casual clothing and sportswear was sky high.

As people stayed at home to work, socialise and exercise, they re-evaluated many of their habits, including how they dress. Rather than opting for carefully coordinated outfits, people opted simply for comfort. Being stuck inside for the best part of a year caused many to ask, what do I really want to wear if I am dressing entirely for myself?

For me, 2020 was a year of relatively infrequent showering, a neglected hairbrush, a barely touched makeup bag and a time when ironing became a distant memory. It allowed me to save the cash I would ordinarily splurge on pricey makeup and accessories and provided unprecedented levels of comfort as I lived in gym wear for months at a time.

However, once the novelty wore off, I began to miss planning outfits, coordinating jewellery, and wearing something a little more stylish than slippers on my feet. I realised that I don’t plan my outfits to impress the people I ordinarily see every day, but because I enjoy the creativity that goes into forging a sense of style.

Having spoken to many peers in similar situations, I know I am not alone in this. The maintenance of a unique style can be something of a hobby, which both requires time and delivers contentment.

Far from being trivial, fashion is a legitimate art form, and we don’t need to look further than the iconic clothes on display at some of the world’s best museums for confirmation of that. Alongside their beauty, fashion trends through time provide a fascinating insight into our social history. Fashion is important and something to be celebrated.

While stuck at home due to restrictions, I miss the small pleasure I take in planning outfits for a day in the office or for a trip to meet friends. I am aware it is a very small thing, however it is one of the many very small things which ordinarily makes up the fabric of our day to day which has been taken away this year.

A lack of social life in 2020 has also meant less reason to buy new outfits, in turn making me pause to consider the frequency with which I ordinarily buy clothes, my own materialism, and how wasteful this can be. Ultimately, however, style does not require endless new clothes and accessories, but simply resourcefulness.

This year has made me realise how much dressing up means to me. This is not due to vanity, but the small opportunity it provides to be creative every day. While I will happily put on my favourite outfit to sit around the house, I look forward to the day I will have a real reason to dress up again.

Mairi Hughes is a Journalist and Creative Writer