This may come as a total surprise (sarcasm!) but: I wear dresses. All dresses, all the time. Even on the rare occasions I’m wearing jeans out of necessity (like this weekend, in which I wore jeans and hiking boots to take pictures in the great dead outdoors) I’m wearing a dress over them. I made the original Dress Decision in 2006 – prior to that it was Just Skirts. I shifted to dresses because even though 90% of the skirts I was wearing were selfmade and thus accomodated my measurements near-perfectly, I found that the dress was far superior in ease of fitting and wearing on my particular body shape.
So, since then I’ve been pretty much dress exclusive.
It may also come as a surprise that I’m quite fat. Fat enough that I can only fit things at plus-size shops, and sometimes even then stuff is still too small in the fattest size.
Lastly, I live and work in the metro Boston area.
Combine these three factors and you’ve got the reality that my dresses, drawn from an already-narrow pool, need to be made adaptable all year round to all sorts of weather.
I layer the crap out of everything. I even layer in the middle of summer – I grew up in Florida and get chilled even in air conditioning, okay? – which has provided endless amusement and befuddlement to my friends. In the winter, though, layering becomes less a mild matter of “what if my office is cold?” than pure survivalism. Last year it occurred to me that beyond my usual cardigans and scarves and tights and leggings and legwarmers – and for the record, you can have my fucking legwarmers when you pry them from my frozen dead calves – that I could also be layering things UNDER my summer weight dresses. As you see above.
Even now, I can hear my fellow New Englanders exclaim, “Are you MAD? You’ll FREEZE in a dress in January! You will FREEZE to DEATH!” Lies, my friends, all lies and misinformation.
See, the dress isn’t really what I’m wearing. The dress is gift wrapping; the dress is just the attractive frosting on the more substantial cake* of my under and overgarments. Real winter dressing is just boring and ugly; it serves a purpose, and that purpose is to keep you alive, not to look pretty.** Because I am compulsive and greedy I like to do both. So (with the help of some northerly inspiration!) started putting on the normal winter garb and then throwing a dress over it. A turtleneck under a cotton sundress and I almost have a fancy-looking jumperskirt. A long-sleeved tee under a silk wrap dress and I won’t die when the temperatures fall below freezing.
Thus my suggestion to my dear readers with much-beloved dresses is NOT to let them languish sad and lonely in the back of your wardrobe til next May, but to bust them out of their summer-only purgatory and give them some winter exposure. The worst thing that can happen is, well, people will think you’re somewhat odd. Though I would argue the sooner you can stop worrying about that, the better off you’re going to be in a general-life sense.
* Who doesn’t love a cake analogy? MMM, CAKE.
** Here I mean “pretty” by my own definition, of course, which is not so much the “eeeee I’m liek a MODEL!” sense than the “I like how I look” sense. You have no responsibility to anyone to look “pretty”. Ever. Neither do I. If you dress with any concept of “prettiness” in mind, it should be exclusively because it makes you feel good.
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