This exercise is admittedly impossible while reading, so retain what you can just after this colon then follow the instructions along with me: Close your eyes. Picture that dress in your closet you haven’t worn yet because you’ve been waiting for just the right occasion. It’s probably a fancy event you’re waiting on, right? Something involving a call for black tie, or a wedding where your college friends will not be attending and therefore “stains” are not your primary concern. Something grand, dramatic…and as of yet, not on your calendar, which means your dress just hangs there, sad and unworn, collecting dust rather than memories.
I’m the worst offender. I treat certain clothes in this one section of my closet as though they were collectable figurines with the plastic still on them. When I moved, however, I donated/sold so much that I began to look critically in my closet and ask how much I actually wear — or plan to wear — each item that took up space. It’s easier to get favorite-but-forgotten jeans and shirts back into the rotation, yet so much harder with special pieces.
But special pieces aren’t special because we reserve them! They’re special because we’ve assigned value to them, because we fell in love when we bought them, because we picture ourselves as better versions of us when we wear them.
So then I said to myself: You know what? Screw occasion. Why can’t I wear that which sparkles or is designed for the ball room on any old Wednesday? Why can’t I wear ruffles on a Tuesday? Why couldn’t I, in theory, wear a floor length dress with ruffles and bows to take photos, or to ride my bike, or to get my morning coffee?
I could, it turns out. I can. But far more fun is to have a model act out my fantasies with four Needle & Thread dresses (and one Needle & Thread blouse) instead.
Wear Your Gown to Get a Morning Coffee
Throw a streetwear-appropriate house coat over your dress (in this case, a robe of pink shirting over an embroidered Needle & Thread gown) to ensure that wherever you pause to stop in the name of a.m. leisure really feels like home. And since you’re being fancy, skip your regular drip; order a latte instead.
Wear a Dress to Go Biking
Not revolutionary, really, but since when does a breeze get old? In the name of safety (don’t forget a helmet!), pad your arms with an autumnal cable knit and make a series of sequins, sparkles and glitter your reflective gear.
Wear a Dramatic Dress to Play Photographer
Whether you shoot for profession, hobby or dreamed-up scenarios, there’s no sense in aiming to get the shot if you haven’t got on the right look. If art imitates life, and it absolutely does, why not dress for the photo you want rather than the camera skills you currently have? I paired this pink Net-a-Porter Needle & Thread exclusive dress with red accessories is in the name of alternative exposures and light experimentation.
Wear a Sheer Sheath to Get Flowers
If there’s anything that could brighten a day or room more than flowers, it’s a sheer sheath that is actually a dress, one that you removed the lining from so as to wear the overlay as a top with striped pajama pants. It says “I work from home, but my desk chair is actually a chaise lounge.” Is that a relaxed sigh I hear? Man oh man, do I love that sound.
Wear Your Finest Top to a Sweets-Focused Picnic
First of all, I think we turn too much of our picnic-centric-focus on the meat. Why isn’t there a more strictly-enforced cheese, baguette and dessert ratio rule when it comes to muted gingham, anyway? Never mind. Pick your battles, as they say, and today, try a buttoned-up frilly puff-sleeve top, like this one by Needle & Thread, with literally anything you can imagine on the bottom. Tie a scarf around your neck if you need color, or to pick up what the long shirt tied around your waist is holding down.
I’ll tell you what you don’t have to do: feel constrained for a second longer about what you can or can’t wear and when. The world is your black tie invitation. You RSVP by pure virtue of getting dressed for the occasion.
Photos by Edith Young.