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There’s no dressing this one up…

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

I have a small confession to make...


I have many *many* more dresses stashed away in my under-bed ibyss, than could ever be deemed reasonable in the context of today’s ‘capsule’ culture.

Some of them are new(ish), but the vast majority hail from the various bygone dress-wearing eras that defined my now somewhat-distant 'youth.'

From the barely-there bodycons of the late 90s... to the pastel coloured, figure-skimming get-ups popular with the poker-straight-haired posse of the early noughties.

You could say, there’s more polyester in that vacuum-packed square meter, than you can comfortably shake a slip (sorry stick) at, and the worst bit of all?

Much of it will never see the light of day again, let alone grace the catwalk of life in its full, 90s-stylee glory!


The whys and wherefores of this secret stash is a common topic of dinner table conversation, and something that I’ve no doubt grinds the gears of those nearest and dearest who are fortunate (*coughs*) enough to share in calling my bonafied ‘dress museum’ a home.


If I had to pinpoint just one reason as to how (and whyyyy) this collection of too-small, too-trashy and – in many cases - down-right nasty frocks has managed to dodge EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of the charity shop de-stashes I’ve made in the last 25 years, it would probably be this…




It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced the unique ability of a Bay Trading slip dress, to instantly transport one back to that rose-tinted citadel of sticky floors, smoked filled rooms and Malibu and pineapple!


For the sake of this article, however, I will try and articulate as well as I can, this legacy that all that lace-overlayed lycra has left in its 25 year wake…beyond the lingering landfill issue, of course.


To me, it’s not just that there is evidence of a former version of self intricately woven into those now-somewhat-sketchy seams, nor the fact that each item has a mostly happy, ‘those-were-the-days’ story to tell.


For the most part, I can vividly remember not just where I was when wearing each and every item, but also who I was with, and all the feelings and emotions that were wrapped up in that moment.


With this in mind, I’m today leveraging the #nationaldressday excuse, to not just celebrate the modern day dress’ unique power to make one feel anew with confidence, style and personality, but in addition… the lesser acknowledged ability of a questionably vintage number, to reconnect a woman with a version of herself that she’d long since lost sight of.


I’ve always been very mindful of this ‘other layer’ to fashion. So much so, that I’m confident the sum of ‘tensile strength’ lies not in the tension test that was replicating the Venga Boys dance moves circa 1999, but rather in the ability of a garment to carry the weight of a thousand dance floor memories…into the tricky terrains of middle age.

The fact that mine have passed this test, makes me feel slightly (just slightly) less bad about their being shameful evidence of my then-affinity for fast-fashion.

I feel even less bad still, for that the fact that these garments have defied their throwaway fate, and instead (ironically) found meaningful purpose in 'sustainability' - from a sense of self stance, if nothing else.

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