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Festive Dressing 101
Ben Pechey wants to take the stress out of festive dressing.
With the festive season nearly upon us, I thought I would offer some sage advice. This is solid advice that will work for family events, work parties, back from uni reunions and even, at a pinch, impromptu dates a la Cameron Diaz in The Holiday.
Yes, ’tis the season where we are supposed to shine the brightest. When it comes to the glamorous party season, don’t get caught up in what you think you are expected to wear. I say this more than you think possible; but when it comes to dressing, you have to please yourself.
There is no point making an extended effort in the direction that you would never take. I see this time and time again when it comes to special occasions and events, none more than at the holiday season, people pushing themselves so far out of their comfort zones, that they don’t feel like themselves anymore.
The high street is full of sparkly dresses, jumpsuits and items festooned with glitter. All of these things are de rigueur for the holiday season.
However, this is not how a lot of people choose to dress, and it can feel like a huge mountain to climb just to look the right way for those office party drinks you have been dreading.
We all feel the pressure of these events to present what we think we should look like, which as a seasoned confident dresser, I can tell you is a HUGE mistake. Going to a family meal, heading to a reunion, you may already feel like you are on the back foot, lacking the comfort familiar situations afford us. Add into this heady and toxic mix of emotions, an outfit that you would not normally pick, and we are heading towards a disaster.
I can hear cynics at the back, suggesting that how we look has nothing to do with how we feel and are treated in these situations. Well, I would argue that is has a huge impact, and can leave us very traumatised. There is a lot of confidence to be drawn from the self-worth we feel when we create a great outfit.
I draw a lot of power from the way I look, my outer appearance does a lot of speaking for me, and presents my unique vision of the world. This is my comfort bubble, and where I can draw a lot of strength, if I was dressed in a way that I thought I was supposed to dress, I would feel sincerely uncomfortable, stressed, and anxious. How do you think that you will be able to perform at your best, when under that stress?
The In-Laws, eccentric aunts, your boss and who knows else at this function will be asking awkward questions, spouting incredibly poor political views and you will be stood there, not quite firing on all cylinders. I urge you to stick to what you know when where you are headed is the unknown.
An outfit that doesn’t feel familiar can create quite a hostile feeling within, that should not exist. Clothes at their core are for function, but how they make us feel is a whole other set of functions. When we dress in something we are used to, those garments act as an extension of us and don’t hinder us in any way. That however does not mean you cannot dress for all occasions.
I hear you saying, but what if my personal style doesn’t suit the situation? Right, I am going to imagine that we are talking something super fancy and perhaps even ‘black tie’, and you are more casual in style. The best advice I can give you, and plot twist, is ‘on theme’, stick to what you know. Pick your current favourite outfit, the one you feel the most comfortable in, and work out how you can make the smartest it can be.
Let’s try a dress and leggings, comfy and casual, but very easily turned into a formal favourite. When it comes to finding a formal look, pick a dress in a similar material so that the garment feels familiar and will foster a positive feeling on your skin. Go for a similar length, that way you will move with all the ease you have day-to-day. Chose a similar colour, remember familiarity equals comfort. Swap the leggings for a mid-weight tight, and either use shoes you already own or if you do purchase a pair, make sure you have worn them for at least the length of time of the event, to make sure your feet feel at home.
Simple additions of a clutch bag and some jazzy earrings, and you are well on your way to being party ready!
At no point have you had to change yourself, or your style for this event, but merely adapted your current style to adhere to the social expectations that scenario dictates. All this takes is a little preparation and some lateral thinking and you are halfway there. Once you do this a few times you will have an easy and scalable method for event dressing.
At this juncture it is a good time to point out that you shouldn’t for one minute think that you cannot try new things, of course, you can, but make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. When it comes to dressing you should always have one aim, and that aim is to please yourself. If you are dressing for other people then you will never win.
There is an inordinate amount of stress and hassle during the holiday period, but don’t let it sweep you away, remember at the heart of every situation is you, and that you should always be putting yourself first, and that is the best way to tackle stressful situations.