Dressember 2010 Wrapup: What I Learned from a Month of Wearing Dresses

(Terry and I had a great New Year, but now we both have the lurgy: he has a horrible cold/flu type thing and I have “daggers” in my throat, so rather than typing out an all-new post, all about how very miserable we both are, here’s one I prepared earlier, to mark the end of Dressember. You are welcome!)

December 31 marked the end of 2010, but also the end of Dressember, in which, as I’m sure you know if you glanced at my blog even once last month, I and a bunch of other women (and men: let’s not be sexist about this…) pledged to wear dresses every single day for a month. As challenges go, it actually wasn’t a particularly difficult one for me, not only because I wear dresses a lot anyway, but because I spent part of the month in a completely different climate. That meant I had access to my summer dresses as well as my winter ones, and it also gave me a great excuse to get dressed up every night for dinner, thus allowing me to wear the occasional pair of shorts during the daytime: a little bit cheaty, but hey, I was on vacation!

And how did it go? Well, I wore a dress on every day but one: the single exception was the day we flew home from Tenerife, and as it was a full day of travel, which happened during The Great Airport Shutdown of 2010,  I decided to give the dresses a miss and went for the warmest, most non-crease option I could find in my holiday wardrobe, just in case we ended up being stuck at the airport for the rest of our lives or something. I DID, however, wear more than one dress on a couple of the other days of my vacation (not at the same time, obviously: I mean one during the day and then a different one in the evening), so hopefully that balances out my one dress-free day and makes everything right with the dress-wearing world once more.

Here’s what I learned from my month of wearing dresses:

1. Dresses aren’t any harder, or any more complicated to wear, than jeans or sweatpants

When I told people about my challenge, the most common reaction was something along the lines of “Oh, I just couldn’t be bothered with that!” or “I’m too lazy to get dressed up every day!” as if the act of throwing on a dress is some gargantuan task, involving several hours of manpower and a tremendous amount of forward planning. Here’s the thing, though: it just isn’t. We don’t live in the 18th century any more. Putting on a dress doesn’t involve lacing yourself into a corset, or calling in the maid to help you struggle into fifteen crinolines. In fact, I can throw on a dress and a pair of shoes in the same amount of time it takes Terry to put on his jeans and t-shirt: sometimes I can do it faster. It isn’t any more complicated than jeans, either: in fact, given that some of the time you only need to find one other item to wear with the dress (shoes or boots) as opposed to at least two (shoes, top), you could argue that the dress is actually the easier option, and I have argued this point many times, particularly in the summer, when it seems to me that a loose cotton dress and a pair of sandals is easier and more comfortable to wear (as well as being quicker to put on) than some other combo of top + bottoms. I also think dresses can be more practical at this time of year, too: no trailing hems to drag through the snow and rain, no restrictive waistbands to loosen after Christmas dinner: what’s so complicated about that?

2. Just because you’re wearing a dress, it doesn’t mean you’re “dressed up”

This is a more complicated objection to work around, because, as I’ve noted before, society in general (or perhaps just where I am, who knows) seems to feel that wearing a dress – ANY dress – means that you’re “all dressed up, OMG!” And this wouldn’t matter, really, except that for reasons that aren’t particularly clear to me, being “dressed up” has become something that’s very much frowned upon. Maybe it’s because it’s considered frivolous, maybe it just makes other people feel like THEY should be “dressed up” too, I don’t know. But despite everything I’ve said about dresses being comfortable, quick and practical in many situations, if you choose to wear one you WILL endure questioning about why you’re “so dressed up!”, and it WILL sometimes be the kind of questioning that’s designed to make you feel uncomfortable, as if you’ve just been caught doing something BAD. You will also be stared at: when we were on holiday, Terry and I actually made a game out of counting the people who’d stop what they were doing to blatantly stare at me as if they’d never seen someone wearing a dress before, and this was a totally new concept to them. Let’s just say it happened a LOT. In fact, if I didn’t get at least a few blatant stares on the way down to dinner each night, I’d start to wonder if maybe I should go back and change…

3. People will get used to it

All of that said, if you’re prepared to stick it out and break through the “OMG U R WEARING A DRESS!” barrier, you’ll find that people will get used it to pretty quickly. Maybe not the people who visit a certain hotel in Tenerife in the winter, mind you. They’ll never get used to it. (Other things They will never get used to: keeping the volume of Their TVs at a volume low enough for it not to be audible ten miles away; the idea that loudly blowing your nose at the dinner table, foghorn style, and then inspecting the contents of your handkerchief, is NOT ON) But the people who know you in real life will very quickly come to realise that you wear dresses because you like them, not because you have a job interview, are an airhead or secretly wish you were Marie Antoinette (which would be silly, because she got her head chopped off, and you all know how I feel about THAT…), and will say no more about it. This will be a happy, happy time.

4. YOU will get used to it

As the end of Dressember drew near, and I started to contemplate the prospect of having access to my entire closet again, I realised that I hadn’t really missed the jeans and trousers. I missed the skirts, sure, but as skirts aren’t so very different from dresses (and were actually permitted under the Dressember rules), I’m not sure that counts. I won’t be spending January in jeans: in fact, I’ve worn dresses every day since the challenge ended, and was really happy when the Dressember members decided to continue the dress-wearing, in the form of Frocking Fridays. (On which every Friday, you wear… oh, I don’t actually need to explain this, do I?) Naturally, I’ll be more than happy to take part in that: anyone want to join us?

Here’s my Dressember gallery – bear in mind that I didn’t manage to take photos every day, but I did faithfully wear dresses on all but one of them!

51 Comments

  • I absolutely adore this post!
    I wear dresses and skirts nearly all the time. I actually find jeans more stressful to make an outfit with. I’m just not a trouser person!

    Florrie x

  • Louise says:

    Great post, and a lovely selection of dresses you have too. I agree that a lot of people percieve dresses as a) dressing up and b) too much effort. Bizarre! Happy New Year.

  • Andrea says:

    I sort of want to email a link to this post to my mother in law, but I feel that would be as passive aggressive as the “dress shaming” you describe above. I know just the tone with which “oh, YOU’RE dressed up” is delivered. As if one were commenting “oh, YOU’RE a racist.” There’s even been gleeful mocking when I had a bit of skirt trouble on a windy boat. BUT I LOOKED PRETTY and was cool and comfortable and actually found the skirt trouble kind of cute and flirty. I just look better and feel more comfortable in dresses. Now I feel I should do frock friday on a matter of principal. der if sweater dresses with leggings count

  • i’ve been making an effort to wear more dresses and skirts lately and i’m loving it :) it’s really practical when it’s snowing cause i hate when my jeans get wet!! i even manage to stay warm with 2 pairs of tights :D hehe great challenge, and your dress collection is as admirable as your shoe collection :)

  • SJ says:

    I actually don’t own a pair of jeans – shocking I know! I didn’t do dressember purely because I wear a dress everyday anyway. I guess I always like being a little bit smart.

    I don’t find that I get people commenting on me wearing dresses, but maybe I just don’t notice it!

    You should definitely stick to wearing dresses more, you really suit them.

  • Claire says:

    I have to confess, it’s normally my hairy, hairy legs that stop me pulling on a dress and get me reaching for the jeans instead.

    New Year’s Resolution – shave them more!

  • Tali says:

    I agree – a dress can be even easier to put on than jeans and sweater. But it’s more difficult and therefore more interesting to style it)

    Waiting to see you on Frocking Fridays!

    xx
    Tali

  • SMScott says:

    Hi – I wonder if people are staring cos youre wearing a dress ? Or maybe just that youre really stunning ! Dont people stare whatever you wear?! x

    • Ophelia says:

      Agree. Just wanted to write the same thing. I would stare at you, even in your normal outfits. You’re pritty and dress nice, so you stand out – in a GOOD way.

      I can’t be bothered with dresses, mostly b/c I chicken out of the being stared at/ stupid questions part. Maybe I should start with Frocking Fridays once a month and raise the dose?

      Love all your blogs.

      • Amber says:

        That’s very lovely of you both to say, but alas, I don’t merit a second glance when I’m wearing jeans etc – I think it’s definitely the clothes rather than just me!

  • Roisin says:

    WORD.

    Also, I hope you and Terry feel better soon! I caught the cold on my flight over (when I was sitting on the plane for 2 hours prior to take off, I could actually feel myself getting sick) and everyone in my family has had it. It sucks. Keep warm and feel better soon xxx

  • Karen says:

    I hope you & Terry are feeling better soon too. I even agree with most of your thoughts on how wearing dresses can be easier and more comfortable than pants.

    The only reason I don’t wear them more is that I feel like pants make me look taller, and therefore thinner. I have a hard time finding dresses that I like that also flatter my apple-shaped figure. So I usually go for trousers or jeans. I do love the dresses I have though, and as I lose more weight, I look forward to buying more.

  • Alex says:

    The only reason I don’t wear dresses more often is that I have horrendously awkward feet (most shoes end up painful, even some flats) and dress-with-trainers doesn’t work for me. So I only wear them when I know I don’t have too much walking to do and can wear prettier shoes! Otherwise they’re certainly no more troublesome and frequently much more comfortable.

  • KAZ says:

    You look great, I love the dresses.I agree with you and lots of other comments. I much prefer to wear dresses, they are much more comfortable. Jeans and trousers are quite restrictive. I haven’t been ‘doing’ Dressember because I have no where to put the pictures (blog) and I was too shy to put on Facebook but I did find myself wearing dresses most days even if stuck in the house because of the OMGsnow!

  • Jaynie says:

    You have inspired me to try to expand my dress collection! I did always wonder why people seem to think it is more bother to put on one thing (a dress) than two (jeans and a shirt). In fact, I usually end up wearing a dress when I’m just sitting around the house, because it’s so much easier. Although you do need a solid collection of shoes (which, obviously, you have, but I don’t) to go with your dresses. Still, good excuse for a shopping trip.

  • Elle says:

    Hi Amber! I came on to email you and saw this post and thought heck, I’ll comment instead.

    As someone who is usually not one for dresses, I’ve enjoyed your Dressember photos and blogs and it’s inspired me to give them more of a chance!

    Wanted to email to say that after seeing you in the black ASOS midi dress, I looked for it and bought it as you look fab in it and it’s a style I like – it arrived this morning and it is GORGEOUS. It looks wonderful. (The proper start to the dress collection…) So THANK YOU! :D

  • Siel says:

    You look great in every single picture! Dressember really inspired me to wear/buy more dresses :)

    You’re really an inspiration to me, especially because I’m a redhead too… I’d love to look as fabulous as you every time!

    x

  • Katie says:

    you have just said exactly what I think but could never have formulated into sentences – I hope you don’t mind I’ve linked to you from my blog.

  • KAZ says:

    Hi Amber, I have (on an impulsive whim!) started my own blog today! I follow all your blogs and others and have been inspired! Mainly to encourage myself to be more glam on a day to day basis, which is I the ‘idea’ behind Dressember and Frocking Friday. It’s very new and not much going on there yet, but i’ll get there. Please check me out sometime (and your lovely readers).

  • I really should wear more dresses, I love them! maybe it’s the cold weather, but then with some nice opaque tights some dresses look stunning and it’s good to hide my ugly knees. It’s mostly laziness I guess. I love the idea, anyways, and I’m going to try to do the “every friday” thing

  • Gemma says:

    Fairly recent discovery – if you basically wear dresses all the time (as I have for the past couple of years) things go the other way. Now instead of the dress shaming, I get “you’re wearing JEANS?! ARE YOU OKAY?”

    I don’t know which is worse.

    But anyway, can I just say I have loved your Dressember choices. I am massively jealous of your Pin-up Couture dresses (need to place an order soon…) and am now stalking various ASOS pencil dresses as a result of your obsession. You make me shop. Bad Amber!

  • Jasmine says:

    I agree and think it’s you that people are staring at and not really the dress. You always look so posh I’m sure people frequently thunk they’ve just spotted a celebrity. And they’re right. :-)

  • Mitr Friend says:

    That was a fabulous month Amber… Loved your style each and every day!!!

  • I love this! Hats off to you for doing dresses for 30 days. I’d so like to see more ladies in skirts and dresses…I’ve live #2 above over and over. It’s ridiculous, the level of informality the whole world has gone to. I hate it. But I love all your fantastic frocks!

    ••V••
    http://www.gritandglamour.com
    @gritandglamour

  • RT @foreveramber: New Post: What I Learned from a Month of Wearing Dresses – http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/2011/01/wh…

  • Hazel says:

    I started a ‘Dress Friday’ during September. It didn’t last long but this post has renewed my desire to try it again! Great post.

  • Very_Hazel says:

    RT @foreveramber: New Post: What I Learned from a Month of Wearing Dresses – http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/2011/01/wh…

  • Katelyn says:

    Just got introduced to your blog when someone tweeted this post. I love it! I have always loved dresses. My mom often tells the story of when I was 4 and she and I got into a fight about what I would wear to an outdoor picnic. She wanted me in jeans for playtime outside and I insisted on wearing dress!

    Such a cute idea and very inspirational. Thanks!

  • Carolann says:

    I am totally on board! It would give me a great way to shake my warddrobe up. But one question … does it count as a dress if you were leggings under it … cause it is cold here in Jersey!

  • Superalzy says:

    Great post! One of my girl friends things dresses are some kind of evil torture device. When I told her she had to wear a dress to our best friends’ bridal shower, she screamed, “Are you BLEEPING kidding me!!??” It’s a shame. We never want to include her at nice events. I wish she would read this!

  • Is that your shoe collection??? Seriously so jealous right now!! I love every single one of your dresses too! That last one, the green and gold is amazing! I think you are beautiful and your hair is absolutely gorgeous! I will certainly be joining in for Frocking Fridays! :)

  • THE-LOUDMOUTH says:

    I personally wear dresses and skirts quite often because I’ve yet to find a pair of pants that flatters my body type! I would’ve loved to participate in this event.

  • Courtney says:

    Such a cute idea! I want to do this, too, but it’s rather cold where I’m at right now and most of my dresses are summery. Unfortunately, I can’t add tights to most of them because they ride up.

    I love this! very inspirational.

  • Loved this post! Your dresses look amazing on you. You really know what looks good on you and I must know, where did you buy your dresses?!

  • Maša says:

    inspirational! it really made me think why am i being so shy about wearing dresses. i am easily annoyed by questions like: why have you dressed up, where are you going, how can you keep your legs together all the time (lol) etc. wearing dresses is very rare in my community. i really love to wear simple dresses but i do not like getting too much attention – that is why i wish more girls and women would wear them in every day life.

  • All of your points are completely valid! I agree that wearing a dress is MUCH easier than trousers or jeans anyday. And no, when I wear a dress I’m not always “dressed up.” I love wearing dresses as much as possible because it’s so much easier to dress myself and feel comfortable. I mean, who eats at a buffet wearing skin tight jeans? Not I. A comfy flowy dress allows me to eat all I want… and that makes me the happiest… Great post, your points were very concise and on point to why dresses are a great wardrobe choice!

  • Charlotte says:

    What a great post! You are so inspiring! I love your shoe collection and your outfits.

    xx Charlotte
    http://www.littlemissmagnolia.com

  • Maria says:

    Great post! I love dresses! I’m going to go and look through all your dress posts.
    I actually used to wear dresses and skirts ALL the time in high school- I only started wearing jeans when I got to college.

  • Cate says:

    i love so much that you did this. i love dresses, but i don’t wear them often, precisely because people keep asking why i’m so ‘dressed up’. what’s so wrong with dressing up anyway? every day is a celebration!

  • Mrs Bossa says:

    Of all the challenges circulating the net in the last few months, this is by far the most appealing, not least because you did it for such a good cause. The dress in the top picture is beautiful; as a fellow redhead I approve of a bit of green and gold!
    I’ve never understood why more people don’t wear dresses – as you say, they are easy and a quick route to feeling fabulous. Especially with a wardrobe as lovely as yours appears to be!

  • Birdie says:

    Great Post!

    Dresses are efficient… they take less time, they’re often more stylish than the alternative with almost NO effort. You’re able to layer just as well as any other outfit. I love it. I’ll have to try this month-of-dresses thing! :)

  • What a great challenge!! I am totally going to do this soon. First let me get through the 30 in 30 remix and then my next challenge will be a dress/skirt a day. I seriously need help in the dressing up department so it will be a good challenge for me. Thanks for the idea! Great post.

  • Shannah says:

    What a pleasure to read this !! I’m currently in a whim : dresses. Midi pencil dress, all black. I have ordered … 7 in the month. I’m sick. But I’m gonna wear them. And each dress is different (always…) )))

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