How to get dressed up again

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

I can’t wait to have a wardrobe crisis. I miss them. The heap of discarded clothes grows as the clock ticks down. My heart rate rises like I’m Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. I’m trying to figure out which dress goes with which shoes rather than defuse a bomb, but still. The stakes feel pretty high. And never more so than now.

When the time for “going out-out” comes – which, as I’m writing this, has been pushed back a few weeks – the wardrobe crisis will be back with a vengeance. Getting dressed to go out is a completely different ballgame from just getting dressed. So many things to think about. What are my friends wearing? When they said it would be fun to get dressed up, did they mean, like, jeans and a nice top, or floor-length and a blow-dry? Is it weird to dress to celebrate the end of something that isn’t over for everyone? Why do fancy clothes so rarely have sleeves? What happens if it rains or gets cold? If someone can invent driverless cars, why are strapless bras still so uncomfortable?

Related: How to wear a breezy cotton dress | Jess Cartner-Morley

Like cooking onions, getting ready takes longer to get right than you think, and if you rush it you will regret it. A wardrobe crisis can be adrenaline-stoking in a good way, if you allow enough time. And by “enough time”, I mean you may need to start the night before, by pulling out of yourwardrobe the pieces you think you might wear. Things have a mysterious habit of not being where you thought they were when you don’t use them for a year. And it won’t be until you, finally, triumphantly retrieve your favourite velvet jumpsuit from the floor at the back of the wardrobe, behind the also-unused suitcase, that you realise it needs ironing, badly – and not until you are ironing it that you remember it only really works with that one belt, which you now have to hunt down and possibly retrieve from the person you lent it to in 2019. A contingency fund of half an hour, just in case, is a wise time investment. You can always splurge on a cocktail if your outfit works first time.

One last thing. The right outfit is almost always the one you tried on first. It’s been a while, but some things never change.

• Jess wears dress, £275, Heels, her own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson, assisted by Peter Bevan. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Kiehl’s and Kevin Aucoin.

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