Why I’ll still be dressing up this holiday season


Maddie Lawson, Staff Writer

While the holiday season’s main focus is expressing gratitude and spending time with our loved ones, and that can take many forms, one thing we miss out on in Zoom or outdoor holiday gatherings is dressing up and showing off your outfits to your family and friends. The clothes we purchase and wear day to day have changed significantly as a result of the pandemic, and emphasizing comfort is understandably popular. This might look different than the way people usually dress for the holidays, especially when we’re not gathering for parties or meals indoors. I think it’s worth dressing up anyway if that brings you joy.

Scouring through Pinterest for “holiday outfit ideas” is a yearly tradition for many of us just as much as baking or decorating is for others. Coming up with the outfit you’ll wear when you head to your family’s house to celebrate or go downtown to look at the lights is part of the fun for a lot of people. The holidays are about traditions, and the pandemic forced us to change those this season, but the clothes we wear don’t have to. This year offers an opportunity for us and our traditions to adapt in creative ways, and the solutions can have unintentional benefits. This doesn’t have to mean purchasing new clothes for the holidays; often this is nothing more than looking into your own closet and coming up with new ideas. If anything, this winter can present all of us with challenges that will mirror those of the fashion industry, and the solutions can have similar impacts. 

It’s undeniable that the pandemic has changed the way we dress on a daily basis. People are staying home, and rightly so, but this gives them very little reason to get dressed up as they would have when going out with friends and family.  Because this has lasted for so long, habits have formed that are likely to have long term effects. Some are enjoying the days of loungewear while in school at home, while others look forward to the days they have excuses to put real clothes on. People don’t dress up as often now, so they are also purchasing less. These changes happen on an individual level at first, but because this pandemic is happening everywhere, the fashion industry is feeling the impacts as well.

The carbon footprint of the fashion industry was enormous prior to this due to the massive amounts of clothing people today are buying. According to Dana Thomas, author of Fashionopolis, the Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, consumers today are purchasing five times the amount of clothing the previous generation bought, and on average, garments are worn only an average of seven times before being discarded. The pandemic offered an opportunity for the industry to reset this cycle, and the changes happening on a higher level trickle down to the people buying the clothes. The fashion industry was forced to take a long look at the cycles it created, and sustainability has taken a place front and center in that discussion. 

Fashion can be an exciting tradition for people of all ages, and holidays present times when this is especially important to a lot of people. This year, instead of shopping for new corduroy pants or a velvet dress from Urban Outfitters or Target, people can look into their own wardrobes for ideas, or shop locally or secondhand for pieces that will last them much longer. Not only is this better for the environment, but it can save people money as well.

Clothing is a way people can express themselves. Coming up with holiday outfits is a lot of fun. Incorporating colors associated with certain holidays can be a creative challenge, and it often gives you the opportunity to wear clothes you might not on a daily basis. Experimenting with colors, textures, and new silhouettes is exciting for those who appreciate that challenge. Especially right now, with so much else in our world being thrown off, clothing can be a creative outlet for people. It can also provide much needed connections with others. The feeling of having a stranger say they love your outfit, a pair of shoes, or the mask you picked out can completely make your day whether it happens while you’re at the grocery store or just posting a picture of your outfit online.

In the midst of so many world changing events going on at once, it’s hard to see why any of this matters at all. Fashion can seem shallow and unimportant, and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of smaller things that bring us joy when the rest of our world looks so different. Getting dressed up so that your family can see your head and shoulders on a Zoom call from miles apart might feel pointless because it’s not like your efforts will be appreciated. Those feelings of apathy are completely valid, but I think we’re looking for purpose in the wrong ways. 

If dressing up for the sake of dressing up brings you joy, then go for it. You don’t need to be doing it for your family or friends or whoever else you would normally spend the holidays with. Getting ready for the holidays the way you normally would can make the season feel ever so slightly closer to the one we always look forward to, and if fashion can give you the holiday joy we all need so badly this year, then it is absolutely worth it.