A Game of Holiday Dress-Up
by Alexa Hotz
Photographed by Hanna Tveite
It's easy to tell when a child has dressed themselves. A clamor of prints, two skirts layered one on the other, stretch pants and socks and patent shoes and a hat. The act of dressing up, for children, is uninhibited, expressive, and spontaneous. Like a color (love a color) and wear it two days in a row, or all week, or wear it head to toe, because, why wouldn’t you if you really love it? Or wear every pattern in your dresser drawer at the same time because it’s fun, not because you should or should not. According to child psychologists, pretend play fosters the imagination, strengthens cognition, forms empathy, and inspires exploration. When was the last time—as an adult—that you did all of that at once? For the grown up set, fashion freedom comes from a daily uniform, and while that’s a different sort of freedom (the freedom from crippling indecision), channel your inner youth and play dress-up instead.
Begin by taking everything out of your closet and lay your clothes over the sofa or out on the bed. The first act of pretending: Pretend these are not your clothes. Forget how they fit on you or how you normally wear them.
Start with all one color before graduating on. Here, it’s about all different textures in black; knitwear and long coats and turtlenecks and glossy leather shoes. An oversized bag is charming no matter your stature.
Playing dress up imbues the present with the memory of a former life; when dressing like an adult beget fascination for an unknown world.
Modern dressing with oversized proportions—extra long sleeves and long hems—is reminiscent of swimming in an adult-sized coat, like this one, a classic camel coat with double-breast closure, tortoise buttons, and a belt.
Exploration is better with a friend whose creativity and fresh perspective inspires new pairings. Here, a massive polka dot bow cravat from Loewe with a velvet trimmed Renaissance coat from Altuzarra makes for a happy surprise. The stylist to the right is, of course, adorned in black: a peasant top also from Loewe.
Recall the way you once dressed in your mother’s silk evening dress, pairing it with pearls and shoes that seemed unimaginable to walk in. Beyond nostalgic sentiment, pretend play is a break from routine, from the kind of habitual actions that lead to stagnation. Dressing just a little less like yourself—a little less predictable—keeps fashion feeling effortless, unconfined, and wonderfully childlike.
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Styling Gabrielle Marcecca
Hair Helen Reavy