This week, I went out for dinner for the first time in six weeks and blow-drying my hair properly and putting on make-up felt very alien…
As I peered into the mirror, I almost didn’t recognise myself. Gone was the fresh-faced 40-something whose skin had definitely felt the benefits of the lockdown, and in her place was this strange, slapped-up woman.
Not that I’m someone who wears a lot of make-up anyway. Even at my age I still don’t really know how to put eyeshadow on properly, and I never wear foundation – I use an extra bit of concealer on my face if needed, then I slap on a bit of eyeliner, mascara and blusher and I’m good to go.
Bar a handful of times since the pandemic started, I have pretty much lived in loungewear, pyjamas and other slouchy attire.
I didn’t feel the need to smarten up for a work Zoom as most of my colleagues were also in comfortable clothes and our job doesn’t require us to put a suit on anyway.
When us Brits were given some freedom over the summer to meet up with friends, during lunchtime liaisons the weather was so warm that the only thing I wanted on my face was the sun.
When I did go out in the evenings, a splash of mascara and a smear of lipstick was all that was needed – seeing friends and family was more important than how I looked.
So I was rather bemused to see the recently-opened clothes shops showing off sequinned and bejewelled tops and dresses, flashy high heels and sparkly bags.
H&M, for example, are advertising their party wear as “the perfect Christmas party dress and glitzy accessories to leave her sparkling at the office party or a night out on the town”.
Really? What office parties? Night on the town, maybe – but the only way to get together with friends or colleagues is to sit outdoors – and who’s going to see your sparkly new purchase under a coat and scarf.
Other high street stores have done the same from Next to Dorothy Perkins to River Island.
Even the supermarkets are trying to push their party wear. Visiting my nearest Tesco superstore a couple of weeks ago, I wandered up to the clothes section and came face-to-face with an array of party clothes,
It was the same in Sainsbury’s, who are also advertising their TU range as “whether it’s the office party, a girly night out, a family get-together or New Year’s Eve parties, we’ve got sequins, glitter and velvet for you to feel extra special this party season”.
Ok, so there might be a few Zoom parties taking place this month. But how dressed up is everyone actually going to get for a chat over their laptops with their friends and family?
It’ll just be me, my fiance, and my mother-in-law this Christmas, with maybe a cheeky glass of something fizzy with my parents in their garden under the heater. Or possibly an al fresco dinner at a rooftop bar with mates. And if that’s the case, as I mentioned earlier, who’s going to even see what I’m wearing under my big winter coat?
As for the make-up, the cold alone will be enough to make my eyes sparkle and give me rosy cheeks that not even Max Factor could manage.
After the year we’ve had, we could all do with some festive cheer, but we also have to accept this Christmas will be like no other.
So let’s raise a glass or two to our nearest and dearest and hope for a more sociable and virus-free Christmas 2021. And embrace the fluffy slippers and sequinned jim-jams because we probably – and hopefully – won’t be able to get away with it next year.
Featured photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash
Tesco photo by Georgina Littlejohn