Five writers reveal their 're-entry outfits'04/04/2021
All dressed up… and finally somewhere to go! After a year of dowdy dressing it’s time to glam up… so five writers – ready for everything from birthdays to book launches – reveal their ‘re-entry outfits’
What are you wearing? A trivial enough question, pre-Covid days, designed to avoid sartorial clashes or clangers.
But now, with the end of lockdown finally in sight and calendars being filled with dates for get-togethers outside from April 12, women across the country are excitedly planning their ‘re-entry outfits’. Namely, what to wear on that first special occasion when they are reunited with friends and family.
Here, five writers share their ‘re-entry outfits’ and reveal the special social occasion that will truly signify that life has returned to normal…
A PRETTY DRESS CRUMPLED BY FAMILY HUGS
By Clare Boyd
There’s no doubt, I’m looking forward to feeling pretty again. But I hope that by the end of the day, my dress will be smeared with the kids’ sticky handprints and crumpled by big bear hugs from the grown-ups, marked by the love of my family
Seconds after Boris had delivered his roadmap-out-of-lockdown announcement, I frantically typed a group WhatsApp message to my family. It was an invitation to a birthday bonanza at my place, on June 26, to celebrate the many birthdays we have missed: my cousin’s son’s fifth birthday, my daughter’s 12th, my sister’s boyfriend’s 50th, my husband’s 53rd, my mum’s 72nd and my aunt’s 73rd.
Their replies were instant and filled with hearts and happy tears emojis. All of us with empty diaries, all of us recognising what we’ve been missing.
Ordinarily, over the past year, we would’ve celebrated their birthdays at mine, with crust‑free cucumber sandwiches, Iced Gems, Quavers and cake, washed down with tea or bubbly. To make up for it, on June 26 I’ll be dragging the gazebo from the shed, unfolding the trestle tables, throwing tablecloths, hanging flower garlands and switching sandwiches for barbecued burgers.
And I can’t wait to dress up in my summery maxi (by Hale Bob) to feel floaty and feminine and pretty again.
Picturing my family piling into my home brings tears to my eyes. In my mind’s eye, they’re interrupting each other, talking, laughing, smiling with delight. Together, finally.
In truth, we could order in pizza and slop about in our trusty old tracksuits and the party would be just as wonderful.
There’s no doubt, I’m looking forward to feeling pretty again. But I hope that by the end of the day, my dress will be smeared with the kids’ sticky handprints and crumpled by big bear hugs from the grown-ups, marked by the love of my family.
And only then will it feel like the most beautiful dress I have ever worn.
Clare Boyd is author of The Pretty One (Bookouture, £8.99).
SAVING THE PLANET IN MY GUCCI TROUSERSUIT
By Lorraine Candy
I want to leave the house looking elegant rather than ordinary. I can’t wait to celebrate something, anything
Getting really dressed up has been one of the great joys of my life, so much so that I’ve made a career out of it.
As the editor of Elle magazine, I sat in the front row of international fashion shows for more than a decade and was lucky enough to wear some of the world’s chicest designer clothes.
But just as the pandemic hit, I left my job in fashion to become a writer and podcaster. Overnight, I went from Prada to PJs in order to make a long-held ambition come true and finally finish a book.
Obviously, you don’t need to look glamorous for book writing, hence the daytime PJs — but you do need to dress up for book selling. And that’s the event I’m nervously gearing up for: the launch of my first book at the end of April.
I’m giddy with excitement about getting ready to go somewhere other than the school run, the supermarket or yet another dreaded walk.
I want to leave the house looking elegant rather than ordinary. I can’t wait to celebrate something, anything.
But what to wear? The answer isn’t obvious, because in my year away from fashion my attitude to the industry has taken a turn. And this is thanks to my two teenage daughters, the very people I have written my first book about.
Like most of their friends, my girls, now 17 and 18, refuse to buy anything new. All their stuff is pre-loved or vintage, bought in charity shops or from retail apps specialising in second-hand pieces.
They’re saving the planet one small step at a time. But I want something extra-special for the biggest moment of my mid-life career, and, frankly, I’m not going to find it in Oxfam! ‘Rent something, then,’ chorused the girls, and because I’m a bit scared of them (as all mums of teen girls are), I turned to two new rental sites recommended by fashion insiders — MY Wardrobe HQ and ByRotation. Both are easy to use, swift to deliver and offer a huge choice, and I chose MY Wardrobe HQ to rent the career rebirth outfit of dreams: a Gucci trousersuit. I’m saving the planet, looking glamorous and achieving a parenting miracle: pleasing my teenage daughters.
Mum, What’s Wrong With You? 101 Things Only Mothers Of Teenage Girls Know, by Lorraine Candy, will be published by 4th Estate in June.
LONGING FOR A DATE AND A DESIGNER BAG
By Liz Jones
For my first dinner date, with an ex-boyfriend (April 13; I have a wall chart), I’ve even hired a stylist. It may seem try-hard, but in the long, lost year I worry I’ve lost my taste, as well as my libido
This outfit isn’t subtle. It screams:
1. Thank God it’s over!
2. I really need to carry a designer handbag!
3. I need to feel a man’s hand in the small of my back, guiding me to a corner banquette for a romantic dinner!
Like most of us, I’ve spent the past year not wearing make-up. Every single day I have pulled on a pair of jodhpurs with holes at the knee. My feet, devoid of my usual monthly pedicure, have gone native.
I have hairy knees. A Captain Haddock beard. Because what is the point if there is no dinner a deux at a swanky restaurant looming in the diary? So, having not got dressed up for more than a year, would the pieces of the puzzle still fit?
I’m so out of practice at applying make-up, I’m sure to draw wiggly Barbara Cartland lines instead of eyebrows.
Dear God, will a size 10 dress still fit, and will I be able to stand in high heels?
For my first dinner date, with an ex-boyfriend (April 13; I have a wall chart), I’ve even hired a stylist. It may seem try-hard, but in the long, lost year I worry I’ve lost my taste, as well as my libido.
My stylist has chosen a blush pink bandage dress by Herve Leger (£650, from Net-a-Porter; it covers my knees, as sadly spas have not yet opened). There’s a reason it’s called a bandage dress: it constricts the internal organs, which have gone rogue after spending 40 hours sitting in front of Married At First Sight Australia.
My strappy gold Alexandre Birman heels (£12 a day, to hire from MyWardrobe HQ; like the man, they can go back) feel like getting into a petal-strewn bath with an old friend: I instantly feel more my old self instead of like a camel — pad, pad, padding around in a pair of Uggs.
But the best part of all is to carry a mini Birkin with a big price tag (POA from Bagista, a luxury handbag re-seller).
I instantly feel more feminine, when for a year all I’ve done is trudge, head down, with my keys, mobile phone and doggy poo bags shoved in the pocket of my battered Barbour. For far too long, I have resembled Jennifer Saunders in the famous farmhouse kitchen sketch, concerned only with whether the Aga, like the flame of my desire, has gone out.
Or Kathy Burke as Waynetta Slob, food down the front of my stained pink onesie. (There is no food. Dear God, I didn’t even dare take any water on board before squeezing into this!)
Today, I’ve unfurled like a spring tulip after a long hard winter.
All I need now is a hand sliding around what I’ve unearthed — Ralph Fiennes fashion in Netflix drama The Dig — to be a waist.
I want to gaze into a handsome man’s eyes and see only desire shining back. Because I sure as hell am going to need help peeling this lot off.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT IN ORANGE
By Kitty Dimbleby
The birthday girl has declared the dress code black tie because ‘we all need an excuse to get glammed up’, and I couldn’t be happier. Finally, the silk dress is getting an outing
It was an impulse purchase in the first lockdown. Ridi-culous really — I was going nowhere — but as I spent yet another evening scrolling online, it caught my eye and the heavy orange silk was impossible to ignore.
I bought it, optimistic that it would get an outing before the year was done. But since last April it has hung in my wardrobe, almost mocking me as I pulled on my lockdown uniform of gym leggings and hoodie, day after day after day.
No need for a full-length, fancy dress when your only plans are juggling home-schooling two young children and freelance work, with every evening spent on the sofa, binge-watching yet another box set with your spouse.
But now, after what feels like the longest year in history, hope is on the horizon; parties are tentatively, optimistically, being pencilled in the diary.
Well, one to be precise, and not until July — but I’m already very excited.
It’s a sit-down dinner in a lovely hotel for 14 of us, to celebrate the ‘90th’ of dear friends. She turned 40 last year and her husband turned 50. Despite them living only a few miles away, we’ve not managed a proper catch-up with them since PC (Pre-Covid) and I’ve missed them.
I was born in 1980, so last year was meant to be all about the 40ths. I was lucky, getting mine in under the wire in the first week of 2020, and hosting a large group of my female friends to mark my landmark birthday.
It’s the only time having been born in January has paid off. We piled into my house, shoulder to shoulder, dancing, hugging, and having fun until the early hours.
But that was when Corona was still just a drink (to most of us) and blowing out candles on a cake was socially acceptable. Just a few months later everything changed.
I’ve missed time with my friends so much. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my husband and two children and feel beyond lucky to have them, a house, garden and jobs we can do safely from home.
But my friends are a hugely important part of my life — a good chat with a girlfriend can cure anything, but Zoom is no substitute for time spent together in person.
The ‘90th birthdays’ party has been cancelled twice already, but this time I feel confident that it will go ahead (please Boris) and I’m counting down the weeks.
The birthday girl has declared the dress code black tie because ‘we all need an excuse to get glammed up’, and I couldn’t be happier. Finally, the silk dress is getting an outing.
So I say hurrah for the end of lockdown, for fun with friends and the chance to wear fabulous frocks. We’ve earned it.
SPARKLES FOR AN EIGHTIES SINGALONG
By Rosie Millard
I’ll be in my sparkly frock, bought this year and so obviously never worn to an event
It has to be wild! It has to be breathtaking and it has to involve sore feet, sore throats and Eighties pop anthems. Re-entry into the real world after lockdown needs to be the most groove-tastic night possible, but without mud and camping.
All of which means dancing in Leeds on July 23 to the wonderful 60-piece Orchestra of Opera North at its 80s Classical concert. This evening heralds a reboot of my teenage years. Deep joy!
It will feature singing legends such as Jimmy Somerville, Belinda Carlisle, Go West and Carol Decker. It’s the perfect way to have a happy time going wild, while supporting an institution for which I have huge support and respect.
I’m Deputy Chair of Opera North, and this company has been amazing during lockdown. The Orchestra and Chorus have performed individual recitals on Zoom and delivered a ‘Couch to Chorus’ virtual singing school.
But for a publicly funded institution devoted to live performance, the past year has been tough.
What nicer way for this much‑loved Northern institution to signal its return than by delivering China In Your Hand and Don’t Leave Me This Way in its home city of Leeds — outdoors to hundreds of people jumping up and down with delight?
Lockdown could have been a lot worse for me, it’s true. As a freelancer, I work at home, and spending time with my partner and children has been lovely. My cooking skills have reached unprecedented heights, and I even quite like having longer hair.
But just thinking about that wonderful sound of a theatre curtain winching open, or being overwhelmed by live music, wandering around a gallery with my children, or going out to supper with friends makes me nostalgic for the life I used to lead and eager to resume it.
I’ll be in my sparkly frock, bought this year and so obviously never worn to an event.
My partner (who’s more of a Bob Dylan man, if truth be told) will be forced to get down to Toto’s Africa and sing along with me to Never Can Say Goodbye.
For a nation deprived of singing together in celebration for more than a year, this will be music made in heaven. And as we all know, Heaven Is A Place On Earth.
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