Make Do and Mend came about during World War II when clothes rationing was necessary, as supplies were diverted to the war effort. The British Ministry of Information issued a pamphlet guiding people on how to extend the life of their clothes.
Fast forward to 2020, and women were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Our current cultural climate has been closely compared to the Great Depression.
Men and women alike have transitioned from office settings to working from home. The corporate meeting turned Zoom call; where one need only put on a nice shirt. No pants required. That had to be weird to someone used to wearing a suit every day.
Throughout the last 100 years, fashion has ebbed and flowed with the economy. When times have been good, the clothes got more glitz and glam – remember the 1980s and the big puffed sleeves and flashy jewels? When times have been hard, people lived in jeans and cotton, simple and hardy fabrics that are meant to last.
Once the stay-at-home orders were issued, online retailers delivered an onslaught of email marketing selling cute tie-dyed sweat clothes. They wanted us to be comfy and cute while we Netflixed and chilled. There were also a lot of sales happening.
However, I talked to several friends about this casual clothing thing, and it did not sit well. We all began quarantine in our workout clothes, but that got boring after awhile and was kind of depressing. There is something mentally healthy about getting up, dressing up and putting makeup on. Beauty and at-home-skin-regime sales are way up because women have felt more comfortable splurging on beauty items versus clothes.
The fashion blogs say we should get ready for the comeback of the housedress – long and loose cotton or linen dresses, like caftans, which are functional but cute. You could work in them but still be presentable for a social outing.
And there’s this from Instyle.com: “While house dresses during the Great Depression were humble and hand-crafty, that changed in 1942, when Claire McCardell, the designer credited with defining the American Look, invented the Popover Dress, a radically simple and comfortable yet flattering wrap dress, which came with a matching potholder, that any woman could own for $7 ($111 in today’s dollars).”
If it comes with a potholder count me in.
Minimalism and capsule dressing has been a thing for a while now, but experts predict that trend will continue to grow. Consumers will be more willing to invest in articles of clothing that will be seasonless and will last longer.
I have always been a jeans-and-T-shirt kind of gal, and my stack of heels has been gathering dust the past few months. Once all is well again, and it will be, I think everyone might be ready to dress up and show out. Until then, we can make do and mend.
~ Lacey Howell is a recovering English major from Auburn who now lives on Lake Martin, sells real estate, rides horses and loves good wine. Follow her at Instagram @LaceyHowell and on her Facebook page.