It's great to repeat your clothes, ladies

And then there was Rita Moreno. The actress wore her gown this year after 1962!

By Nivriti Butalia

Published: Sun 11 Mar 2018, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Mar 2018, 10:28 PM

I've never seen such hoopla for Women's Day as there was this year. Either I've been wearing horse blinders or it really used to be only cold cream companies that would put out a bunch of ads on TV 'celebrating the woman', all models with taut, flawless (airbrushed?) skin caressing their epidermis, whispering sweet inanities into the camera, beaming into our living rooms.
This past Thursday though, I had WhatsApp messages from sane people saying insane things: "Hey, Happy Women's Day, how are you celebrating?" I thought people had lost it. Celebrating?! What should I do exactly, as a woman?
Colleagues were even sending other colleagues lofty customised messages about how inspired they feel to have them as peers. Sweet? Sure. Believable? Well.
Then, we get into work to see that HR had made an effort. There were helium balloons and speeches and presentations meant to make us ladies feel empowered. I hear the cake was nice, too. There was a jewellery kiosk set up in the conference room. A bunch of us collected there, eyeing the out-of-reach diamond necklaces. The most useful part of the set up was a jewellery cleaning facility manned by two guys over steaming cauldrons, dipping our baubles in and out of detergent water. Post a pop-quiz and the consumption of sandwiches with the sides lopped off, we ambled out of the conference room with shiny rings and bangles and nose pins even.
The Oscars, according to Donald Trump, had the worst ever rating. Did you see his tweet? He called himself the 'only star', and threw in a 'just kidding'. But there was another part of the Oscars that I especially enjoyed, besides Frances McDormand's speech (everyone please go watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; it's also a really funny movie, if dark humour is your thing). I loved that she just put the Oscar down, by her feet while delivering her acceptance speech (and subsequently a thief made off with the golden man; she got it back later).
But what I was especially struck by were the clothing choices of at least two women. I liked that Tiffany Haddish, American comedian and actress, sported an already-seen-before outfit. It's cool. It's sensible. Hey, maybe it's even empowering. Here's what Haddish said: "This dress costs way more than my mortgage. This is an Alexander McQueen, okay? It's a $4,000 dress!" I am with her. I could celebrate that. Repeat clothing needs more champions. At my wedding, I wore my mother's lehenga that she wore at her wedding. Time lapse? 38 years.
And then there was Rita Moreno. The actress wore her gown this year after 1962! says Moreno wore the same Pitoy Moreno-designed black and gold gown she had sported when she won the best supporting actress Oscar in 1962: "I thought, 'Oh, God, what am I going to wear?' Then I decided to shop in my closet." Moreno said the dress had been hanging in her closet for 56 years, "not even in a garment bag! You would have thought the gold thread in the skirt would have tarnished, but it didn't." Apparently, the skirt was in its original condition but the top of the dress had "undergone a few tweaks".
We could do with more women making a case for repeat wear. Dubai could totally do with a movement where women aren't embarrassed to pull out an outfit they've been seen and photographed in already. We women blow up a lot of cash on dresses, then worry about "repeating it." Since when is this foolishness the point of life? There's probably beautiful stuff in your closet that you've forgotten about. Or you're too conscious of what other women might think to wear too often. Men, I suspect, don't care as much. But really, why care that you've been seen before in the same outfit and they'll see you in it 26 more times this year? Someone's got to start setting the examples, and - in however miniscule ways - empowering the herd.

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