Tired of dreary Covid dressing Stylist Cathy O'Connor is rediscovering the clothes she loves and revelling in how good they make her feel.
Something across the road caught my eye. Was it a mirage? A vision of something longed for? Or perhaps a memory?
I squinted to see it better.
It was real. I was looking at style, yes style! An exquisite soft white tailored coat, luxury tee, tapered trousers, and heels (heels!). The epitome of elegance and sophistication. This vision also had glossy hair and impeccable make-up, a confident beauty.
At another time, this gal would have been one of many; a sartorial expression of a cosmopolitan city. But those days seemed like a lifetime ago. How had things changed so dramatically and so quickly? How had I changed so dramatically and so quickly?
The drudge of dull dressing
There I was in jogging pants, a dull top and trainers. Unlike the glossy mane on the other side of the road, my hair was tied back, visible roots and no make-up. Looking like I had just rolled out of bed, after all, I was only going to the supermarket, so why make an effort? I had to ask myself the blindingly obvious question... who do I dress for? I had always thought I dressed to please myself, for the pure pleasure of dressing up and feeling good. So, was that no longer the case, or had I just given up on feeling good?
I was an expression of someone dazed, who had given up a little, seeking the comfort of over-sized clothing
For the love of clothes
As I walked home, I remembered all the beautiful, cherished clothes in my wardrobe that were gathering dust. I love clothes, I love style and yet that passion wasn't enough to persuade me out of my dreary, comfy clothes into something lovely.
With the world in so much chaos, so much distress, style seemed like such a shallow pursuit
For me, style is all about self expression and it remained true on that day. I was an expression of someone dazed, who had given up a little, seeking the comfort of over-sized clothing and feeling invisible (even to myself). It truly was a reflection of having not adjusted to these strange days.
I was so far away from making any kind of effort that it simply didn't occur to me to dress up. With the world in so much chaos, so much distress, style seemed like such a shallow pursuit.
Nowhere to hide
The journey home was a gloomy one. I opened my door and saw my reflection. It was not good – dark circles under my eyes, dull skin and grey roots. This version of me was a rare one, simply because I would usually have the daily boost of make-up and had never let my roots run wild for so long!
I didn't put my game face on as I didn't want to play the game
This version of me became the daily one, just at a time when I had never watched myself so often. The endless Zoom meetings and online calls resulted in me seeing myself so much more than usual. Nowhere to hide, just me, the jaded version of me, staring back from that blooming computer screen.
Saviour salon by post
Even the prospect of washing my hair and putting on make-up was such a chore. An activity that would have taken me no time before was now something I avoided, if I could (and indeed I could). I didn't put my game face on as I didn't want to play the game.
I was fed up of looking fed up.
Now for the action step. Ah, action... I tried to muster some initiative, but the siren song of sweat pants lured me back.
I rediscovered the pleasure of wearing make-up, of creating that better version of myself, of wearing clothes I love and of loving how I feel wearing those clothes.
As if in answer, my lovely hairdresser, Robbie Foster sent me an SOS parcel with precious product, my hair dye. Who knew that that kind gesture was the beginning of my return to feeling good again. Once those roots were gone, I recognised the person in the mirror. And so I rediscovered the pleasure of wearing make-up, of creating that better version of myself, of wearing clothes I love and of loving how I feel wearing those clothes. A small effort that made all the difference.
The question remained –who do I dress for? The answer: Me.
And that audience is a worthy one.
Follow Cathy on Instagram at @cathyocstylist
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