We have a long Holiday Season in America. It really starts on Halloween, and goes through Thanksgiving, Channukah, Christmas, and the New Year. It’s basically eleven straight weeks of food, decorations, and parties, filled in by mad bouts of shopping. We’ve almost become a cliche of ourselves, and a lot of people are getting kind of disillusioned with the whole deal. Many people get depressed around the holidays, because the pressure to make it all feel “special” year after year is just too crazy.
I have a theory about why nothing “feels special” any more, and how to make it “feel special” again. It’s simple. It’s really hard to make the day feel different if you look exactly like you do every other day! How is Thanksgiving a special day if you show up for it wearing jeans and a flannel shirt over your tee? It’s not. It’s just too much food and a football game. If we want the day to be special, then we have to take the trouble to be special too.
There is a social meme that appears to have developed in America over the past 50 years that makes people feel like they can never dress up for anything (except maybe their own wedding… and even that often has a camo theme here in Humboldt!) It seems like dressing “too fancy” has become a terrible faux pas, so much so that the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction, and we’re all in our pajamas half the time. I think it’s wonderful for us to feel like we’ve leveled the social playing field, but in the process we’ve also robbed ourselves of the joy of decorating, not just our streets and houses and shop windows, but ourselves!
There really is something to be said for how you feel when you put on that magnificent dress, completely unpractical shoes, and maybe even actually DO your hair, instead of just wearing it like you do every other day of the year. Surprisingly enough, the very worst thing that will happen if you do dress up is this: People will tell you how fantastic you look!
Of course, there is a new and growing contingent of folks who are taking that pendulum and swinging it back the other way, and that’s the Steampunk crowd. Why not make your own with this wonderful pattern from Simplicity. One of my students just finished the jacket from this pattern, and it’s fantastic! Sometimes just one piece like that can make the whole outfit. If the corset and skirt are too much for you, this jacket will make your average Little Black Dress into just that Something Special you need for your event. Not so adventurous? There’s something out there for modern minded folks as well, like this lovely flounced and ruched dress from Lily & Iris!
Dressing up doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. There are plenty of thrifty options for you, starting with thrift stores. My neighbor on 2nd Street, Little Shop of Hers, has a wonderful selection of affordable vintage dresses. They might need a little “love”, but that’s just part of the fun of getting ready for the holidays. Of course, you can always start from scratch and make your own. Then you can really express your own personal style, and be absolutely sure nobody else shows up at the party with the same dress on. You probably even have something already in your closet that just needs some trim or sparkle to make it into a party dress. Adding a little ruffle of tulle or lace, or sewing on some sequins or beads can change the plainest dress into a brand new party dress. You can even convert it back later, if you feel like it.
Just remember, if you brighten up your wardrobe for the holidays, you will not only jazz up your own day, but everyone else’s around you! So, live dangerously! Dress up a little! You’ll make everyone’s holidays brighter!