All Dressed Up with No Place to Go




The tourist industry (to include the airlines, hotels, restaurants and all the places tourist want to go) is in my prayers every morning and night. We have a good friend and owner of our favorite restaurant, who had to close it because of the pandemic and the Washington State edict, “no more than 50% capacity.” It hurt my heart to see a vibrant and bustling restaurant go under along with our favorite waitress in the world and the best fish and chips anywhere, ever. But there are other types of businesses that are seriously affected by COVID.


When I think about all the places we loved to go but can’t, like church, lectures, the theater, the movies, meetings, concerts, celebrations and a million other activities we used to get dressed up to attend, it made me think about another industry that’s got to be hurting; the fashion industry. After all when we’d go out, we’d dress up.

“We have to be there in half an hour. Are you gonna wear that?”

“How dressed up should I get?”

“Well, I’m gonna wear my black dress with the ruffle on the hemline, and I’m wearin' heels.”

“Whoa, okay, I’ll change my shirt and wear my new pants.”

Now that we can’t go anyplace, I’ve been thinking about the reason behind dressing up in the first place. Why the heels? Why the black dress?

Maybe my thinking about dressing up has been influenced a little bit by the fact that in the last month we’ve been re-watching Downton Abbey. The Lord and Lady of Downton Abbey and their adult children dressed every night for dinner. (Or rather someone dressed them.) The guys wore “black tie” and the women wore formal, prom-type gowns. Oh, and when they went out of their castle, they really gussied up with long gloves, huge hats with peacock-sized plumes and bejeweled gowns.

Before COVID when I used to get to dress up (I had what I called “speech clothes”) I never dressed in plumes and sparkles, but I used those “go out” events to look better than I ordinarily looked at home. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to show others how successful I am. Remember wondering what to wear at a particular event? An invitation to a party would invariable designate what the “dress code” was. In other words we were told how much we needed to dress up and impress or dress down to be comfortable. No matter where we went we wanted to be appropriately dressed. Have you ever been “overdressed” or “under dressed?” Both are embarrassing. Remember in “Legally Blond” when Reese Witherspoon showed up at a frat party in a bunny costume and she was the only one in costume? We all sympathized with her because we’ve all felt out of place at some time or another in our lives, because of what we were wearing.

I’m embarrassed to admit that whenever I’ve dressed up, I’ve wanted “them” (whoever they are) to think “I’m doing well,” especially in those times when I wasn’t. I’d also look at “them” to see if they were doing well or not. ‘Hmm, Jolene must be having a hard time; she’s wearing stuff from the 80s.’ If we didn’t care how we look to others, there would be no need for fashion. With fashion, humans are sort of able to assess monetary success. However what a human wears is not a true assessment. When I worked as a bank teller, one of my customers always looked like he’d slept in the streets after a busy day of begging. He was worth millions.

Now, because of COVID we’re not able to judge how we’re all doing. The best we can do right now to show off our financial state is to get all dressed up and post selfies on Face Book. Somehow that doesn’t sound fun! I asked Terry, “What if we got dressed up, you in your tux and I’d wear one of my long formal dresses and we went to Walmart? What would people think?”

“I don’t know what women’d think, but guys’d think, ‘what’d that poor guy do to deserve that?’”

“I think women would think, ‘I wonder where they got to go.’”

Probably no one would asses our financial situation because they’d be too shocked by seeing us in formal wear. It did start to sound fun to dress up and get some attention, until a more mature part of me entered my mind and the whole idea to dress to get anyone’s opinion seemed utterly ridiculous..

Right now, we here in the state of Washington, are double quarantined. For one, because of the wildfires, almost everything is closed because of hazardous air quality and two, Terry and I are in our late seventies and considered high risk for COVID.

GOOD_BookMy suggestion to the fashion industry is, keep your old line of clothing from last fall and use it again for this year. Save all the “new looks” you’ve been working on and were going to entice us to buy and wear this fall, for the fall of 2021. There’s really no one to show off the latest fashions to. I can’t imagine buying a bunch of new clothes and shoes, just to post “selfies” on Face Book.

Maybe this pandemic will change the fashion industry forever. Maybe it’ll become like the expensive cars like Mercedes and BMWs that never change their look from year-to-year. So why not save our show-off-how-well-we’re-doing money for next year. This fall I’m investing in comfort clothes: new slippers, pajamas, bathrobe and lounging outfits.

If you’re itching to get dressed up, maybe your family could pick a night when you dress for dinner like Lord and Lady Grantham at Downton Abbey. Pretend you’re going out to a festive party where the invitation specified the dress code as “Cocktail Attire.” Tonight, I’m going to take a shower, put clean pajamas on for dinner and pretend I’m going to a Pajama Party!

Take care my dear friends. We’ll get back to normal and it’ll be wonderful. Wonderful because not being normal will cause us to appreciate normal like we never have before!




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