When Helen H invited her friends to her Pretty Vintage Weekend to celebrate her birthday, she made it clear the the dress code was to be ‘Pretty Vintage’. No jeans, no tracksuit bottoms, no trainers, no fleece…you get the picture. And so as everyone started to consider what to wear, they seemed to get hung up on the vintage. What era? What style? Where to start? Vintage means something different to every individual. There was a fashion of the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s etc – what if each of us dressed in a completely different style? And to be honest, fast forward to 2016 and the fashion in the high street shops is a mish mash of all that has gone before – influences from every era.
And so she focused in on the pretty.
Just wear something you feel really pretty in.
Pretty? Really? That was just as hard as vintage, if not harder. When was the last time I felt pretty? If ever! I don’t do pretty. I’m a woman emerging from more than two decades of raising five children. My wardrobe consists of items that are practical, cheap, versatile, comfortable and easy to wash. I’m not as young as I was. I don’t see what I want to see when I look in the mirror. Where do I start?
Well, back in February, I tried on a dress. And it turned out to be THE dress. I loved the feel of it – I’m big on touch. I felt good in it. I felt that I looked good in it. I couldn’t stop rubbing my hands down the sides of my body to feel the smooth contours that it gave me. I hadn’t looked at the price tag. I hadn’t looked at the washing instructions. This was it.
It sat in the wardrobe for the next six months. Occasionally I caught a glimpse of it or brushed my hand past it and smiled. Other times, I battled with doubts about whether it was too much, whether I was being foolish, whether everyone would think it wasn’t right somehow.
And then when I put it on with the beautiful, beautiful shoes and the perfect borrowed tiara, I felt pretty. I walked down that wide red-carpeted staircase and felt like a princess. I posed unashamedly for photos on the steps outside. I danced through the village. I was transformed.
I can’t speak for anyone else but that outfit worked its magic on me. I felt like a different person.
It was wonderful to see everyone else transformed too. Each one of these lovely women had given the occasion so much thought. They’d planned the outfit that worked for them – from head to toe. And each one was so different. So many individuals with so many ideas of pretty – lace and satin, black and white, flowers and stripes, long and short, heels and flats, tiaras and slides. So, so pretty. Every single one of us. Pretty in our own way.
And dressing for dinner and the fab after party really gave the whole occasion a different feel. We had made the effort and it really paid off. We were in the most stunning of settings and we needed to look our best. We took loads of photos – photos we will treasure forever, photos that will be profile pictures for the foreseeable future. Feeling pretty is not to be under-rated. It feels good. And it transforms the whole evening.
I love dressing up. Maybe everyone else has a sense of that now too. Maybe this will transform our nights out. We each dressed for ourselves – not for our partners or our kids or our friends (well, maybe a little for Helen H – she had threatened she wouldn’t let us in if we weren’t dressed appropriately!). We wore exactly what we wanted to wear.
What I, for one, now want to wear over and over and over again.