Dressing up in a dressed down world

Dressing up in a dressed down world

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Girl in white cotton dress: Dressing up in a dressed down world

[photo credit: Dominik Martin/Unsplash]

Once upon a time, we used to dress up. We dressed smartly to go grocery shopping, to the movies and to travel, especially when flying. We wore our Sunday best on Sunday.

But now the pendulum seems to have swung wildly the other way. We wear yoga pants everywhere but the yoga studio and sweatpants everywhere but the gym—even pajamas outside the house.

Dressing more casually started as a rebellion against overly formal dressing, and even as a rebellion against overly gender-defined norms. It seems amazing today to think that it once was shocking for women to wear pants.

While we have much to be thankful for with these shifts in style in fashion, sometimes it seems like the shift has gone too far.

If everything is casual all the time, when do we dress up? Can we dress up? Should we?

Why even bother?

To say who we are

“How we dress sends a message about who we are, or at least how we want the world to perceive us. It’s the semiology of clothes. … I subscribe to [the] theory that language is a self-contained system of signs. How we dress is a personal form of language. … How will people respond to [the] image of you, and what assumptions will they make about who you are?”

Tim Gunn, A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

To honor ourselves

“Dress presentably on a daily basis to honor yourself and those around you. Remember, first impressions are terribly important. … Never save your best clothes for ‘later.’ What are you waiting for?”

Jennifer L. Scott, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

Cheryl Fascinators

To add a little glamour and confidence to our lives

“Just think how much more beautiful and pleasant your office, favorite bar, or local Starbucks would be if people ditched the frumpy clothes and grumpy attitudes and instead opted for elegant ensembles and charming manners on any given Thursday.

“Replacing your favorite ‘running around’ sweats with an actual outfit (nothing crazy, think a relaxed, yet chic striped top and great jeans) will make you carry yourself with more composure and confidence. Even wearing a chic or elegant matching set of pajamas at home instead of worn-out yoga pants will make a difference in your attitude.”

George Kotsiopoulis, Glamorous by George: The Key to Creating Movie Star Style

To take control and earn respect

“If you depend completely on others for a sense of self-worth, you’re not just greedy, you’re needy. Style can help foster self-esteem and in turn the kind of confidence that attracts friends, lovers, employers and coworkers into your life. Celebrate every day the person you are, and garner the level of respect you deserve. …

“Style is about creating possibility. It’s about taking passionate, strategic control of your image—not just to dress for a job you may not even have known you were going to want but for oodles of other things you can’t predict for your future.”

Stacy London, The Truth About Style

cheryl and Tara

To bring us joy

“I will love my body as it is today. I will honor it by taking care of it and dressing in clothes that flatter my shape and bring me joy.”

The Fab Mama Style Manifesto

So what does it mean to dress up in a dressed down world?

It doesn’t mean you have to be formal every day. It’s not a return to pearls and heels at the supermarket. It doesn’t even mean you can’t be casual.

It’s about dressing in a way that’s deliberate, with items that are chosen just for you and your lifestyle and your body, ones that make you feel fabulous when you put them on, even if they’re a pair of jeans and a knit top.

As my friend Estella says, we don’t always have to wear our Sunday best, but maybe we can wear our Sunday better.

Learn how to dress for your body shape, clean out your closet and create outfits you’ll love in the Frantic But Fabulous style makeover workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials.

norma jeans poster


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