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OPINION | LET'S TALK: To dress up or not, that's the question

by Helaine Williams | April 4, 2021 at 2:28 a.m.

Today marks the first Easter many of us churchgoers will have spent in our sanctuaries since 2019.

Which has me wondering whether Easter outfits will be back in a big, splashy way, or whether the Covid Casualness bug will have bitten too deeply.

Easter dresses were a big thing during my childhood — in a "pastel dress accented with white hat, shoes, purse and gloves" kind of way — and a goodly chunk of my adulthood. And I always get a kick out of seeing the kiddies in their Easter finery.

But at some point, my having a new dress for Easter didn't matter so much. Matter of fact, I can't rightly remember the last Easter-designated church ensemble I wore. At my current church, everybody dresses down — all the way down to jeans and T-shirts — anyway. And last year, churches were closed due to social-distancing mandates.

Truth be told, I seem to have ... well ... lost much of my enthusiasm for dresses, period.

Hey, that's a big thing to admit. As a girly girl and a society reporter/photographer, I'd lived, eaten and breathed dresses — day, cocktail and especially evening — for more than a decade to the point where I went through a rockabilly-style dress phase several years ago. In the recesses of the utility closet is a garment bag stuffed with probably 10 petticoats I ordered from Amazon to wear under these full-skirted frocks. Right now, I'm not sure whether those petticoats will see the light of day again.

Really, it seems so much simpler to grab a pair of dress slacks, at best, when there happens to be a "face-to-facer" to attend, and it would be a bit too slothful to show up in jeans or yoga pants. Matter of fact, I have several dresses bought shortly before/during the pandemic that have not been worn, including one sweater dress that has spent the just-ended winter exposed only to the clothing hanging on either side of it; and a fellow sweater dress that has spent two winters thusly. (And, geesh, I can't even imagine dressing up in costume for anything ... something I also enjoyed doing when covering pre-pandemic Mardi Gras, masquerade and period-dress balls for High Profile. Give me a dollar-store mask and a sheet cape! I'm good!)

As for you men, I'm sure there will be some "dap daddies" showing up in church in their straw- hatted, double-breasted-suit best today. I wonder how many of you fellas secretly counted "not having to dress up for Easter" as one of the minute advantages 2020 had to offer — and stood up to your spouses in your determination to continue your "no-dress-up-edness." I especially wonder how many male counterparts I have — pre-covid dap daddies who are now content to be torn-jeans-and-college-T-shirters.

There's more than a spirit of Covid Casualness going on, in my case. I suspect age is a factor, too. I've wondered when I might begin to opt for jamming an old-school turban on my head, wearing knee-highs with skirts, paring my shoe wardrobe down to flat Mary Janes and Birkenstocks, and ceasing to give two rats' posteriors about whether or not everything matches. (I'm still good per the last two. I hate all thin, translucent hosiery and I even hate wearing metal jewelry that doesn't match the metal on my handbag. But those turbans are beginning to look good for bad-Afro days. And my enthusiasm for what a co-worker once called my "stupid shoes" — in her eyes, any shoe with a heel of more than 2 inches or with the word "stiletto" in its description — has waned considerably.)

If you're like me, you now find yourself considering how much time you'll spend at an event to determine how dressy you'll get for it: "Do I really want to invest Spanx and false eyelashes in something that's only going to last an hour?" You probably even throw in the expected number of attendees to help you decide: "I don't feel like getting all glam for a gathering of 10."

After considering the two factors above but reminding myself that hey, it is Easter, my plan for today is to show up to church looking somewhere between early-20th-century-anarchist and member-of-the-Court-of-Versailles.

I just hope, fellow churchgoers, that you belong to a house of worship whose members, even if known for being snazzy dressers, won't give the side-eye to more casually attired attendees ... and women who may have lost their enthusiasm for dress-wearing.

The gospel is defined as "good news." We of the faith know the good-news headliner: Jesus died and arose, which is the reason for today's holiday. One ancillary aspect of that gospel: Jesus didn't die for us to have to buy Easter outfits, and dress to the nines, on Easter Sunday.

Get dressed, and email:


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