dressing up at a dreary time

There’s no disputing that we are living at a dreary time. Don’t even think of arguing with me. But it’s the holiday season, and I like the holidays. I need them, we all need them. This year, like many people, I’m choosing to celebrate any and all holidays that might come my way. So, happy every holiday to you!

I feel like doing justice to and extending the holidays by taking time to indulge without excess, to celebrate more than just one or two evenings and days. Even if you don’t have a packed social calendar, at this time of year almost everyone has something to go to where “dressing up” is called for.

I say, go for it and enjoy, but maybe try something different, too. Resist the temptation to leave things to the last minute and then rush out and buy something that you will probably never ever wear again. You really can enjoy, save money, and do the slow-fashion thing. 


I’ve come up with three more ethical, not excessively indulgent ways to dress up and make yourself gorgeous, without having to fully engage in the holiday shopping hysteria.


Go vintage.


I know there are women who would rather go naked than step into anything resembling a vintage clothing store. But if you want to go inexpensive, interesting, and slow fashion, make this the year you shop second-hand. In a good vintage or second-hand store you can let yourself go, try something new, and you won’t have to beat yourself up when you discover that you don’t like the dress the morning after the party.

You don’t have to go all Cher shopping in a second-hand store. Vintage is not all feathers, sequins, and smelly old velvet. In good stores you can find high quality, classic items in which you can feel comfortable and chic. And there are many shops run by non-profits, where by buying an outfit you are also helping a local shelter, church, or other social services program.


Dig out the old.


We all have a dress or pair of pants somewhere in our closet that we haven’t worn in a very long time because it never seems quite right for any occasion. This year dig it out and go wild with it. The dress with the thigh-high slit? Wear jeans under it. Take your pinstripe suit out and wear just a vest under it. Combine your velvet with denim, or wear your husband’s tie. Just dig it out, mix it up, and see what happens.


Buy one good thing.


Buy yourself one high quality, lasting thing: a good leather jacket or bag, fantastic boots or a beautiful winter coat. Wear this one good thing all the time, wear it with everything even if you’re not supposed to. Make sure it’s something you’ll adore forever. The addition of one good thing to your wardrobe can change your look and your attitude. Dress up early and often, start tomorrow. 




  • Jennifer says:

    I ove these ideas! My vintage things are either passed from my grandmother and mother, or I bought new, and they’ve aged to perfect!

  • Esther Zimmer says:

    I’m with Jennifer, I love these ideas too!

    Apologies for being so absent around here, I miss your blog when I haven’t had a chance to read it for a while!

    Esther xx

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