Fashion & Beauty

It’s 2021. Get Dressed Already!

January 3, 2021

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HERE’S MY resolution for 2021: I’m going to get dressed.

In fact, I’ve even jumped the gun, something I realized when a neighbor stopped by several weeks ago. She had come to drop something off, and we were social-distancing in the living room, chatting, when she looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re all dressed.”

To be clear, I wasn’t wearing anything memorable: black pants or maybe jeans and a loose-fitting paisley shirt. I probably had shoes on. But she plucked at the way-oversize sweatshirt she was wearing over baggy black leggings as if to apologize for somehow not meeting “my standard.”

My “standard” is that I’m tired of having only a nodding acquaintance with the clothes hanging in my closet. Why reach in for the same black pants and the same teal sweater when there are other possibilities? I’m aware of this faint feeling I have that it’s a shame to “waste” a nice blouse or jacket when no one is going to see it. Two things about that. One, I’m going to see it! And two . . . “waste”? Sure, I may have to wash something, or have it dry-cleaned, if I wear it, but that’s on the same level as using the “good” china and silver only for guests, as if family would somehow sully them. Bad message to send, no?

I admit that the black-pants-teal-sweater routine can be a blessing in the morning when The Dog Has to Go Out Right Now. But what follows that trot around the neighborhood is hours during which showers can be taken, hair washed, makeup (yes, makeup!) applied and fresh clothes selected.

I laugh along with acquaintances who joke about still being in their pajamas till 3 in the afternoon. But I don’t want to do that (and don’t even believe they do it). Getting dressed is the line of demarcation between asleep and fully awake; not getting dressed blurs the line.

Besides, people keep talking about comfortable sweats. But how much more comfortable is a sweatshirt and pants than this black-and-white outfit (below) I relied on for years as a kind of uniform?

MyLittleBird Managing Editor Nancy McKeon’s longtime uniform: a slouchy cotton Chanel sweater, a winged-collar shirt and cotton, ankle-length pants. / MyLittleBird photo.

And I doubt sweatshirts are much more forgiving than these tees I bought from Johnny Was (below). They stretch and snap back, and their clashing patterns make me giggle. They bring out my inner boho.

I failed Hippie 101 back in the late ’60s, so maybe that’s why I’ve become a sucker for the colorful T-shirts from Johnny Was, a West Coast outfit. T-shirt doesn’t sound quite right, though, because the fabric here is bamboo with a bit of springy spandex. Whatever, the Sandra Scarf Favorite Long Sleeve Crew Tee, left, and the Ardell Favorite Long Sleeve Crew Swing Tee are $120 each at Johnny Was.

I know I’m not the only one fighting impending sloth. My friend Holly the other day mentioned that she is going through all of her costume jewelry, putting on rings, earrings, whatever, every day. And then dabbing on perfume! Friend Jane says she wears  makeup every day—and that’s through weeks and weeks of chemo and radiation for metastatic breast cancer. My meander through my closet is chump change compared with those two.

After my closet, my favorite place to shop is [enter catalogue name here]. For years I was a mail-order junkie, and now I’m an online junkie. Plus ça change, etc. But now that higher-end clothing lines market themselves online and in mailed catalogues, it’s giving me a chance to upgrade my wardrobe. That was the purpose of those Johnny Was T-shirts—a girl gets tired of taking pride in snapping up tees for $16.99 at Costco.

I think the rest of my upgrades are fairly subtle, sometimes a simple style with just a hint of something different. My new black cardigan is just that, a black cardigan (below), but it’s made of very fine Italian merino wool and has the slightest metallic sheer ruffle on the edge of the front placket and the end of the sleeves, which are just a tiny bit longer than necessary. It’s by Lafayette 148, whose fabrics are on a whole ‘nother level of sumptuousness. And I don’t mind paying more for something I’ll wear, basically, forever.

This wool cardigan has a subtle ruffle on the front and tipping the sleeves. It’s $498 from Lafayette 148.

If you’re a luscious young model you can thrive on simple sweaters and blouses in sophisticated but dull colors, like those that often fill the pages of the Poetry catalogue (duck-egg blue is a wild statement for this London-based outfit). But my face and I need more. So the chance to score a double-layer crêpe de Chine shirt (below) for less than $200 got my attention. The oyster-cream color washed out on me (or me on it), so I returned it for the washed-aqua version. The double-layering may seem gimmicky, but I think it and the silk-covered buttons are subtle enough not to call attention to the shirt except to suggest . . . what? Quality? Opulence?

Maybe it simply suggests that 2021 is the year I got dressed again.

—Nancy McKeon

The double-layered crêpe de Chine shirt in washed aqua (left), oyster cream (right) or several other colors, is $189 from Poetry.


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8 thoughts on “It’s 2021. Get Dressed Already!

  1. Natalie West says:

    I’m gonna go get “really” dressed right now! Thanks for this!

  2. Nancy G says:

    Sorry about your brother, Carol. Hopefully he’s on the mend fully.

  3. Nancy G says:

    Thanks for providing inspiration. Although I do get dressed every day, it’s in jeans and sweaters/sweatshirts. But I love all my “real” clothes and look at them every day wondering when I’ll have a reason or occasion to ever wear them again. But you’re right, I can wear them for myself (I could wear a bag and my husband wouldn’t notice).

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Nancy G, yes! Show your “real” clothes some love–they’ll love you right back.The only risk is that after months of jeans etc. your husband may think you went out and spent your 401(k) on new stuff.

  4. Nancy McKeon says:

    Oh, Judy, that’s about as far as any of us are going these days. But you’ll be well dressed for the elevator ride down to the mailboxes!

  5. Nancy McKeon says:

    Judith Weinraub responds:

    Okay Nancy,
    MyLittleBird has made me self-conscious about my stay-at-home wardrobe. After considering the cost of several casual blazers out there, I decided to look in the closet where I keep my ‘a tad better than jeans’ clothes.

    And what to my wondering eyes should appear but two black indoor jackets that I’ve been neglecting. Now all I have to do is figure out what shirts and trousers that I already own would happily assemble under any of the jackets. And maybe a tiny bit of eyeliner?

    And then I’ll be ready to go downstairs to pick up my mail . . .

  6. Carol says:

    It’s been the strangest year of my life. Who would have thought we’d be talking about masks and getting dressed? But that’s where we are, folks, and I told my grandsons to think of the stories they will tell their kids someday! I’m grateful for all you little birds for being there. And my brother is in ICU Forbes Hospital outside PGH now with Covid, but he is improving. Sadly, he was in denial about the virus. This is the closest it’s come.
    Take care—wear a mask.

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Carol, I’m sorry about your brother, glad he’s getting better. Somehow “strangest” doesn’t even begin to describe this past year. Let’s hope for the best this go-round.

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