6 min readLifestyle 24 August 2020
Last week, I scrolled and clicked. I clicked some more and more. Scrolled, paused to answer a Facetime call from my mom, and then got right back to scrolling. I added a total of seven dresses into my Ann Taylor cart. And then I paused and asked myself the following three key questions.
First, did I need another black sweater dress when summer hasn't even ended yet? Second, did I want to take the gamble on final sale items? The third—and most important question—I had to ask myself was, will I ever wear a dress for work again?
With one final click, I exited out of the Ann Taylor website. At that moment, a girlfriend just responded to a screenshot of one of the dresses I had sent her. Her text appeared, reading "You don't need another dress. When will you wear a dress for work again?"
Over the last 24 weeks in quarantine, I think about all the great times I have had with my dresses. Pre-COVID-19 memories swirl around in my head as I wonder when I will next drive to work or take the subway to go to a meeting in NYC again. I imagine the once-familiar sounds of my heels click-clacking on the pavement and my dress material swooshing around me.
Will I ever wear a dress for work again?
I remember the last time we had a fancy spaghetti dinner in NYC. I remember the last time we presented together in our board room. I remember the last time we traveled to Washington DC, and I had to speak after Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the National Archives Museum. I remember how, somehow, I managed not to pee, embarrass myself, and (more importantly) not ruin the dress I had bought for the occasion.
Oh, my dresses. I wondered how they were doing in this pandemic, while I sat there chewing on my sad homemade quarantine sandwich during a lunch break. How were they all doing? Were they hanging in there? Did they miss me as much as I missed them?
So I squeezed into my tiny faux walk-in closet for my quick daily visit. I whispered to them and softly pet each and every one of them. I miss you.
Hello, my navy-blue maxi wrap dress. Yes, nice to see you again, leopard print, florals, and even you, too, unflattering horizontal stripes. I should have ditched you a while ago, hot pink ruffle sleeve dress, but somehow you managed to keep clinging onto that hanger in the very back. Doesn't seem right to toss you out now during a pandemic. Why hello to all of my five jumpsuits, second cousins to the dresses, of course.
I stand there in my not-on-purpose ripped jeans and coffee-stained #BossMom t-shirt and softly belt out Adele's words of comfort:
Hello, it's me / I was wondering if after all these weeks you'd like to meet / To go over everything / and join me on a Zoom call / I'm not done reminiscing
Hello, how are you / I'm sitting on the bed dreaming of who we used to be / Since we were free, pre COVID-19 / I've forgotten how it felt to feel a dress swish at my feet.
And it's no secret / With my new quarantine weight / We are running out of time…
My song is interrupted by my five-year-old hollering for more Cheez-its, my husband warning me that he has a 1 PM call he can't miss, my seven-year-old whining that the iPad out of battery, and nd two missed calls from work.
My dear friends, I'll have to cut this visit short. Don't worry, I'll be back again tomorrow.
What's in a dress? Why did I own so many dresses? I have a closet full of hand-selected, hand-picked styles for almost every occasion. Why did these dresses mean so much?
Now, in my new normal, I choose to be comfortable. Because being comfortable in this environment is what makes me feel more confident, get more done, and be more productive.
Throughout history, the dress has always been an iconic piece at the forefront of fashion. The dress as we know it today is a garment that has evolved over thousands of years across ancient cultures of all locations and eras.
In the beginning, dresses represented what communities, cities, and countries individuals were from. With the evolution of the dress in more modern times, came all the things I had come to take for granted: elastic, safety pins, and of course the zip fastener. And in fact, there are over fifty different styles of dresses circulating in the fashion world today. The majority of which are represented in my faux walk-in closet—silently waiting for the moment they will be worn again.
In those early years in corporate America, I started wearing dresses to feel more powerful—to feel in control. Dresses represented a choice I was making. My choice of how I represented myself to the world and, by extension, what I thought a leader should look like. More importantly, my dress was my cape; my superpower that made me strong, confident, and unstoppable.
Unfortunately, my army of dresses no longer fit my new normal—the lifestyle of the moment. If I was a mediocre teacher before school let out, I have, now, discovered that I am a terrible summer camp counselor to my five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
On a day I decided to wear a flowy dress to rediscover my pre-COVID-19 self, my husband looked puzzled and asked if I was going somewhere. My kids were confused as to why I was dressed up. I tripped at one point, almost falling into the wall. And the poor dress ended up with popsicle stains. The dress was not used to the life of a summer camp counselor during a pandemic. And so, she went back into the faux walk-in closet with our other girlfriends.
Now, in my new normal, I choose to be comfortable. Because being comfortable in this environment is what makes me feel more confident, get more done, and be more productive. I no longer have to worry about a snag in my stockings, a dress's belt becoming undone, panty lines, ripped seams, buttons holding on for dear life through the quarantine diet, and, as a mentor one confessed to, a wrap dress unwrapping itself in the middle of a presentation.
I don't need the navy-blue maxi dress and pink high heels for confidence anymore.
My power now comes from turning on the camera, rolling up my chair to my laptop, maintaining my eye contact and engagement, and being present. In other words, my quarantine confidence comes from leading and contributing. I don't need the navy-blue maxi dress and pink high heels for confidence anymore. And yet, like old friends who have been with me through the good times and the bad, I do oh-so miss them.
I wore a dress the other day for a family photo. It felt strange and yet familiar to have my legs exposed. It was frightening to let go of the not-on-purpose ripped jeans and coffee-stained #BossMom t-shirt. Like a teenager, I was wobbling about in high heels and marveling at the swish of fabric around my bare legs.
Someday, I'll be back in my navy-blue maxi wrap dress, sliding on those pink heels, and this time also slipping on my mask and heading back into work. I'll see all my old girlfriends again. We will drink, we will dance, we will delight and revel in all of the moments we missed and the new memories we will create together.
For now—sorry Ann Taylor—my cart misses me. I don't need another shirt dress, jumpsuit, or a black sweater dress. Don't worry, I'll be back in 2021 with a vengeance. But for now, my new life is calling. I'll slip back into my not-on-purpose ripped jeans and coffee-stained #BossMom t-shirt, take this work call, and go hunt for more Cheez-its for my daughter.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist