It was with great pride and great ease that I wore a silk floral dress with a beautiful deep-v back to my oldest brother’s wedding this past weekend in Brooklyn. Even though I knew this would be a day where I was photographed and that I’d have these photos for years and years to come, I didn’t shy away from wearing the same dress I’d worn the dress was to my mother’s wedding nearly a year ago (another day of photographs!). I was determined to wear the dress both because it is the most perfect dress for a Fall wedding and after I had already mentally committed to wearing the dress, I learned that it perfectly fit into the color palette. No other dress would do.
For memorable occasions, there exists a temptation to wear something new (or at least “new to you”) every time. Even during the work week, I often calculate when I last wore an outfit to decide if it’s “ok” for me to wear it to the office. An even greater fear of mine has been running into someone you so rarely see only to realize that you’re wearing the same thing they saw you last in months ago (and you wish you could tell them that you have a full closet and you’ve worn lots of outfits since!). I do think there is a very tangible social pressure to not be seen twice in the same memorable outfit.
But my point is screw that. I’m not suggesting we all wear a uniform everyday, but I do believe we are allowed to love pieces so much and resist the ideas of “more” and “new” so well that we embrace being seen in them often.
I recently heard all-around inspiring woman and White Dog Café founder Judy Wicks speaking and was surprised when she unexpectedly diverted from her advice on changing the food industry to tell the audience that we’ve got to change the fashion industry. Part of her advice was that we’ve got to wear things more than once to start changing our expectations of clothing.
I actually first had this thought when I was watching Downton Abbey a few seasons ago and realized that the characters were always wearing the same outfits. My initial reaction was embarrassment on their behalf. Then I felt indignant as if I was being deprived of more beautiful costumes to swoon over. And finally, I realized that it was likely just historically accurate, as all clothing would have been made to order and vast closets of clothes impossibly expensive even for a wealthy family. I wondered why all TV shows weren’t similarly repeating costumes, since we do wear things more than once in real life, even if we always want our clothes to appear new.
In order to change this social stigma, I have this radical idea that celebrities should start wearing the same dress to multiple Red Carpet events. I imagine it to be like Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge but taking it a step further by actually wearing such beautiful responsibly made gowns more than once to show their value.
Recognizing the value of our clothes is an essential part of the solution, yet emotion plays a significant role too. I didn’t wear my dress to two weddings just because I matched the color palette. I wore it a second time because I remembered feeling incredibly beautiful in it, despite having a broken heart at the time on the inside. The dress got me through a difficult experience. It also was such an important celebration – to celebrate my mom’s new marriage – that somehow the dress felt important enough to wear for my brother’s wedding too. It had already proven it could hold up on a big day. Finally, I felt silly hiding such a beautiful dress in my closet when it was meant to be worn!
Wearing the dress for the second time meant I had to let go of worries that people would remember the dress but it also gave me the opportunity to create new memories in it. I know it won’t be the last time I wear it for a very special occasion either.
Join the movement! Tweet @ThisIWear or comment below to tell your story of wearing a memorable outfit twice. Or better yet, tag your photos with #WearItTwice to show your support!
[Dress by No. 6, purchased at a charity sale. Photos were taken before my mom’s wedding in December 2013 – no photos from this weekend’s wedding yet!]