There’s a weird stigma in Ireland around re-wearing wedding outfits. It’s an unwritten rule that you must arrive at a ceremony in something new, something never-before-seen. Then, assuming everyone else’s dresses have been newly bought, there’s an expectation for you to say, “Oh, that dress! Where did you get it?”
But why can’t we wear something people have seen before? If an outfit is stylish and makes me feel good, why can’t I show it off for a second time? The world deserves to see me in this floaty, floral number. It’s wasted in its garment bag and Lord knows I’ll never get another opportunity to dance around in it.
Besides, trying to find something new is tough. For the past few weeks, I’ve been scouring Dublin for a new frock to wear to an upcoming wedding. I traipsed the high street, scrolled online, and even dared to enter the shops I hate. What I found was this: diddly squat. Whether it’s an unflattering neckline or an uncomfortable fabric, there’s something wrong with everything I see. Meanwhile, my bright, chiffon ensemble hangs lonely in my wardrobe. It seems wasteful; not only keeping a beautiful dress hidden from the world but also spending money on one that I don’t even like that much.
What’s weird is that I never actually notice if someone else repeats an outfit. I’m always too focused on having a nice time; chatting with fellow guests; enjoying my meal and dancing to think, “My goodness, Aunty Paula wore that to the last family do.” Even if people did notice, they’ll probably be more impressed than judgemental. It might even inspire them to re-wear one of their old dresses next time. We ought to be more like Kate Middleton, who is proud to rock the same dress on numerous occasions. She wore the same white Alexander McQueen dress to both the Queen’s birthday celebrations last year and Prince Harry’s wedding this year.
The mum-of-three has been described online as a serial fashion recycler; wearing the same yellow Roksanda dress on a New Zealand trip in 2014 as to Wimbledon in 2016, and the same tartan outfit on a visit to St Andrew’s School in 2012 as she wore for Christmas 2013. She’s careful to make subtle changes, such as a swap of a hat or a change of jewellery, but she’s happy to reuse and recycle. Surely if the Duchess of Cambridge can do it, we can too.
Photo: 27 Dresses, 20th Century Fox