• Charlotte Dallison

Clothes Still Matter... Perhaps More Than Ever

I am of the humble opinion that during times of crisis clothes matter more than ever.

Clothes have been the centre of my world since I was about 14, when I got my first job and my own money, it meant I finally had the dosh to spend on my own clothes - my own clothes that had nothing to do with my mother's tastes or future hand me downs for my younger sisters.

I was a runner at a restaurant so naturally I was on a budget from day one. This is what led me to the wondrous world of vintage. I spent my time trawling Trademe (NZ’s version of eBay), second hand shops and a beautiful vintage shop in Christchurch named Tête-à-Tête, finding all sorts of one-offs that none of my friends had. Ever since then my obsession with clothes, fashion and vintage have been at the core of me. I have used clothes as armour throughout any tough time I’ve endured and always made it my mission to ‘get ready’ every day.

Since then my style hasn’t changed all that much, the only major moment of influence being the year I spent living in Italy, where fashion was an integral part of the place’s culture and spirit. Here I started toning down my eclectic “boho” look, which was so popular at the time, and opting for vintage that honoured tailoring and showcasing the female form - even though I was only 17, my body was well and truly that of a woman.

Earlier this year, I was already in the process of switching my attitude to how I was going to shop in 2020, knowing I would soon be leaving my full-time job and forgoing a secure income to start my life as a freelancer. I had returned to the wonderous world of eBay in a bid (pardon the pun) to be more cash conscious. I reminded myself of how satisfying it was to find beautiful things secondhand, and that I was good at it! A friend of mine also reminded me that I “...have so many beautiful things, so just wear them!”. Little did I know that this attitude would be the one we would all need to employ, and very soon.

This is where my long-winded monologue comes down to society and how we will dress in a post-pandemic world. A lot of media I have been consuming lately has had powerful people admit in interviews that they’ve been spending their days in pyjamas and don’t think that clothes mean anything anymore. That is where people are going wrong… clothes mean more now than ever! Taking pride in your appearance means you are preparing for a day of productivity, inspiration and social interaction - even if all of this is performed over Zoom.

In previous times of worldwide crisis media would encourage people to take pride in their appearances in order to keep up morale, normality and confidence. Society did not take the privilege of wearing gorgeous things for granted. If people are now spending their lives in pyjamas what will it mean when we’re allowed out again? I am fearful that the lockdown will allow sports luxe and smart casual to be pushed even further. When we return to the “new normal” we cannot allow people to give up on their appearances even more than recent cultural shifts have allowed.

Rather than using this lockdown as an excuse to dress poorly, why don’t you use it to reinvigorate your look. Go through your wardrobe, purge what you no longer need and edit the rest. Put away your Summer clothes so you have better scope of what you are able to wear this Winter. Have old things dry cleaned and/or repaired locally, then get on eBay and find some gems (just not the gems I want, please). Remember that trends don’t matter at all, they never have. Re-wearing the same outfit on Instagram is not a crime, in the same way that looking good while the world is in strife is not either. Make do, mend and spend on a budget.

This pandemic has really highlighted the power of places being self-sufficient. Pay attention to interesting local brands, even if you can’t afford them right now. When you support these brands you support local designers, your local economy as well as the health of the planet. Also look for local boutiques that stock the international brands you love. Even if it costs you $20 more than net-a-porter, you are essentially still shopping somewhat locally.

And never forget, when you wear activewear in public, you are wearing a tracksuit in public. Look good, feel good.

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