Why I’m Wearing Dresses Around The House 

A love letter to our most neglected wardrobe pieces.

Every morning since lockdowns began last March, I’ve gone shopping for dresses. At first, cruising websites and shovelling frocks into my cart was like a stubborn affirmation—if you say it enough times, it will be true. And my affirmation browsing (I only actually bought a few dresses, I swear) went something like: “This will be over, it will be over soon, and when it is, I’m going to be rocking this leopard-print maxi like nobody’s business! Also this pink jumpsuit! And maybe that cute skirt, too.”

But as the weeks stretched into months and the world’s snappy work clothes and going-out lewks morphed into leggings and matching sweats, my dresses started to feel neglected. I even banished them to another closet, because it was too depressing to look at them when I was still afraid there may never be a world where I’d need to wear them ever again.

Once things opened up a bit last spring, I started having a few of my girlfriends over for backyard gatherings. “Can we say it’s a dresses party?” pleaded one of my friends. “I haven’t worn a dress in months.” Hell yes, we can! I quickly tapped out a bossy group text. “GIRLS,” I wrote. “Entry to this event is contingent on wearing a dress. No dress, no service!” (What can I say—my backyard, my rules.) But to comply with this dress code means I too have to visit my lonely closet of dresses from days gone by.

I creak open the door. There they sit, waiting hopefully.

“Hello friends,” I say, and start flipping through hangers. Oh, here’s the one with the cutout shoulders and billowy sleeves I wore to an awards ceremony. There’s the leopard print, the zebra print and the cheetah print because I’m clearly an animal lover. Here’s the dress I wore for my first day at a new job that started last February—it looked smashing on my brand new employee I.D. card, I must say.  That contract ended suddenly when the pandemic sent everyone scurrying into their homes, but I still have the card, and I’m adorable. I pull out a jersey maxi dress—I figure it’s a step up from the tattered shorts and grubby tees I’ve been wearing, but isn’t too fancy for an evening of takeout pizza and homemade margaritas. My nine-year-old son and my husband look shocked when I come downstairs. I get it—they’re overwhelmed by glamour.

“You look like you’re wearing a church dress,” says my kid (he means a choral robe). My friends soon all appear in similar loose, comfy “church dresses”—all the better for eating pizza and getting tipsy on my excellent cocktails.

After that, I start wearing dresses around the house, when going out for walks or for those thrilling spins around the drugstore aisles. (I know I’m not the only one—there’s a reason the phrase “nap dress” trended in 2020!)

I never stopped wearing makeup—doing my face every day made me feel better even though I wasn’t going anywhere special, so why wouldn’t I keep wearing my dresses, too? Of course the more relaxed, nightgown-esque styles get more play than the sequined party ensembles, but as the lack of  sparkly soirees stretched on I started wearing my fancy dresses too (because why not?). They cheer me up and remind me of the world outside my front porch—a world that’s still there. Almost a year after lockdowns began, I still go “shopping” for dresses every morning, but with the possibility of a post-pandemic life finally glimmering on the horizon (thank you, science!). This time, I actually buy them.