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Sparkles to Supervalu and sashaying down the aisle at mass: Why I’m getting dressed up this Christmas

by Edaein OConnell
03rd Dec 2020

Christmas may be the biggest occasion we’ve had all year – even if it’ll be spent with the same people you’ve seen in sweats and natty t-shirts all year – and we should take it as an opportunity to get decked out. 

I have dressed up on Christmas Eve for most of my life. There hasn’t been a year where I lounged around for the day waiting in hope for Santa. Instead, I wore sparkles into Supervalu and sashayed down the aisle at mass because I believed the church was my catwalk.

To be honest, I dress up almost every day. Well, I used to, in a pre-Covid world.

When we locked down in March, I promised myself that I would never lose the want to experiment. That I would never lose that need in me to express myself through my outfits, despite the fact no one could see me in them except for my family.

However, within a fortnight, I had ordered the first of many loungewear sets. Then the bra came off, followed by the shoes and the final remains of effort. Most days, I rolled over to the office, which in actuality was my bedside table. I stopped wearing tan and make-up, I binned my razors and saw hair grow in places where I didn’t think there was any. In truth, I gave up.

And it felt great.

Taking pride in your appearance is a lovely thing, but it is also an exhaustive daily task. When you stop the preening, there is much time to spare. While I may have wasted this time watching irrelevant TikTok videos, it was freeing to not have to ‘show up’ like I had done every day previously.

Gone were the days of squeezing into jeans and deciding what underwear pulled me in more. I was a delightfully blissful ball of comfort.

But that life can be too much of a good thing. My legs became restless, yearning to be adorned in leather pants and my chest was growing cold and bitter from the free-wheeling lifestyle.

I miss dressing up. I miss spending an hour meticulously perfecting my make-up and hair. I miss the elation felt when the outfit you have planned in your head lives up to your imagined expectations.

Cosy jumpers and leggings are sensational, but it’s Christmas people! It’s the only time of the year you can dress like an emergency signal and people will still think you haven’t dressed up enough. I think this is the moment for change.

I think it’s time for us to go big or go home and put the loungewear in the wash.

While we may have to pivot to a different version of the festive season, it doesn’t mean we have to forego the sparkles, bling, and iridescent gloss of it all. Happiness has been hard to find this year but clothes can give you that, even if it’s just for a day.

Because the height of our excursions will be to and from the supermarket and between the rooms of our houses, buying something new may feel foolish. However, look within your wardrobe for the hidden gems that can get their chance to shine in your kitchen. What about the dress you bought for the wedding last spring that never got the chance to go ahead? Or the sparkly skirt you swore you would wear with trainers and a knit on casual days but never did?

Take these items out of their induced sleep and let them breathe new life.

Clothes in their simplest form are used for protection and warmth but they are also a tool to enable normality.

For many, life before Covid was dotted with days to play dress up and wear colour, now its hues of beige and blocks of blacks while we try and navigate the bizarre year that is 2020.

Use Christmas to inject that vivaciousness and sense of excitement we have lost.

Personally, every chance I get to frequent my local Supervalu in the run-up to Christmas will be akin to a Vogue fashion shoot. Prints will clash, colours will bounce and sparkles will glitter under the florescent lights of the dairy aisle.

I will wear makeup and curl my hair. And I will document it all on Instagram without remorse, just to prove that I took back control in a time of upheaval.

So, join me in this protest of the year that has been. This rage against the machine of the pandemic is not political nor is it a threat to our safety.

It is us taking hold of any joy we can find and running with it.

Because I have dressed up for every Christmas Eve of my life.

And I won’t let this year be any different.

My ultimate go big or go home Christmas picks

ASOS Edition sequin maxi dress with split front, €186.64 at ASOS

ASOS Design Sara embellished heeled mules in pink, €38.71 at ASOS

Françoise Dylan dress, approx €200 at Queens of Archive

Featured imagery via Tracee Ellis Ross on Instagram

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