One thing that struck me during #MeMadeMay was that while I dress up during my working week my first choice at the weekend is super casual. I had to try hard to incorporate “me made” at the weekend. This is because I usually wear:
- long sleeved T shirt, often with a second one on top, sometimes with shorter sleeves
- slippers indoors; trainers outside
- cashmere jumper if it is cold
- down jacket if it is colder or I am going out
- waterproof anorak if it is wet and windy
- small silver earrings
- little or no make up
- Er, that’s it.
In a nutshell – comfortable trousers, leggings, jeggings, joggers, stretchy jeans – with a jersey top is what, literally, everyone (man, woman or child) wears.
I remember being impressed, in about 1986, with the concept of the “babygro” – a stretchy outfit that covers top and bottom and feet in soft, cottony jersey. It occurred to me as I pulled on yesterday’s worn, grubby and ill fitting clothes that what I really needed was a “mummygro”, an all-in-one, comfy, stretchy garment that in a jiffy, I could zip myself into.
The picture above of David Beckham’s designs for kids shows outfits virtually everyone wears – comfortable cotton jersey T shirts and leggings/jogging bottoms. My two year old grandson and I have almost matching Converse shoes.
What I like about this uniform
- warm (it’s rarely warm enough for proper summer clothes and if it is I have plenty of choice)
- casual trousers (as opposed to skirt and tights) means I can walk, climb, run, bend down etc. without a cold zone or loss of dignity
- casual trousers (as opposed to tailored trousers) can absorb dirt, rain, etc and can go straight into the washing machine and back on with no dry cleaning or ironing
- very economical as I can wear virtually the same outfit everyday so long as I change the T shirt (the value of a uniform)
- it’s easy and doesn’t require much thought
- suits me – I look OK in jeans with a fitted T shirt
On the other hand this look scares me because it has no individuality in it. Not much anyway. And boring colours – navy or denim often with a blue or grey jumper. And my casual wardrobe is almost entirely bought off the peg, which reflects its low effort/low maintenance vibe. For me this outfit is worn only 2/7th of my week – but if I didn’t have a fairly senior job I might also dress like this for work; then it might be a 6/7th of my week. When I retire (not for at least five years) is this my wardrobe life?
I was talking to my daughter about her wardrobe. She works nights and weekends in a small annex with three or four others, hidden in general from the public. She sometimes has to go to hospitals, police stations etc but is not expected to be particularly smartly dressed. The rest of the time she is gadding about with two little kids so has minimal need for formal wear.
My mother, (who is elderly and rather disabled) also likes to keep her wardrobe very simple, as she struggles to dress unaided. She has adopted a set of clothes that are either stretch trousers with a jumper, or a jersey dress and cardigan, over simple underwear (vest and pants) with support socks and velcro or elastic sided shoes she can remove without help. Even so she still manages to look pretty good – in terms of the colours, patterns and textures she chooses. Her outfits are restricted by the actual difficulties of dressing.
And I think all of us – Mum, me and my daughter all love dressing up and looking nice – but, like everyone else, our default look is easy, simple and comfortable.
Here are a couple of old pictures of us wearing “smart casual” My loose fitting floral maternity trousers are worn with a stripey red top and periwinkle blue cardigan. My Mum has a nice white blouse with pleated skirt, and Esme appears to be wearing something white and frilly. In the second picture Esme is wearing a floral dress I made for her from the softest Indian lawn. I wear a navy spotty dress and a Marks and Spencer purple linen jacket that I subsequently ruined by leaning on a bleached worktop. Mum is wearing floral jeans in muted pinks and greens with a light pink T shirt.
So what am I saying?
Should I try to dress up more at weekends? Or should I reinvent the weekend wardrobe to make it more exciting and individualistic, but still casual and comfortable? Do you make too many dressy clothes that you never wear, or do you just keep churning out comfy tops on your overlocker?