All dressed up and no place to go

It’s been three months since I’ve worn a pretty dress and eaten dinner, complete with a bottle of wine, in a restaurant. The dress was navy blue with silver dots scattered all over it and I wore it with my favorite velvet Frye ankle boots. It was a fun night.

There are times when it feels as if that dinner with a friend was a very long time ago. Back then, winter was drawing to a close and spring party season was just around the corner. My Rent the Runway (RtR) lists organized by, among others, Vacation, Dressy, and Hot Weather, featured frothy dresses and floral confections that were priced far beyond my budget, but within reach with my Unlimited Membership. I always had something, often just the right thing, to wear no matter what the occasion or event.

And then everything stopped.

As the pandemic spread through our country, parties I had planned to attend – the NABA Visionary Gala, A Moveable Feast, Champagne on the Park, were all cancelled. Concerns much greater than what shoes to wear and how to accessorize, pushed fashion and style to a distant back burner. In a new world of work from home, (hashtagged  #wfh) wardrobes shifted from business and party wear to clothing that was casually professional. Pretty dresses were shoved to the back of the closet, saved for future, better days.

But, not at my house.

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Not me. This time.

Despite my social calendar being completely devoid of events, I elected to continue my RtR membership. This choice has, at times, felt incredibly self indulgent. I mean, it isn’t as if I don’t own any clothes. I don’t need to rent garments and, at a time when so many are struggling financially, spending nearly $45 a week on clothing is a definite luxury. So, why do I do it?

Well, I’ve spent a little time thinking about that very question.

Growing up with a talented seamstress for a mother meant I always had beautiful and custom made clothing. I was taught about quality fabrics and finishes, the importance of fit and how to best dress my shape. I devoured fashion magazines for inspiration and developed a tactile sensitivity that allowed me to identify articles of clothing in the dark by touch. What can I say? I love clothes.

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But, that doesn’t mean I necessarily feel the need to own closetfuls of clothing. In a similar fashion to how I am content to borrow books without buying them, I prefer to have a library of clothing. As for the expense, I know there are people who make payment in a similar amount for cable television or their daily muffin and coffee fix. It’s a choice and, believe me, one I would immediately reconsider if my finances necessitated.

So, I continue to receive my wardrobe in a fabric bag delivered to my front porch. Even when RtR came under attack for corporate policies relating to their status as an essential business.

Now, don’t imagine that I’m indulging, a la Little Edie, in my own Grey Gardens fantasy. Nope, it isn’t all ballgowns and brocade. “My” wardrobe has been a revolving collection of sweaters, blouses, jeans and dresses with the occasional  appearance of a more fashion forward garment. I’ve discovered some previously unknown to me designers and worn a few dresses that brought me unmitigated joy in a very dark time. No regrets.

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I’ve come to realize that what I choose to wear is a decision that both impacts how I look and, more importantly, how I feel. I may not have any place to go, but I’m still getting dressed as if I did.

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