Along with frequently having to remind myself what day of the week it is since the pandemic hit, I often have to remind myself the month. September has arrived with subtle signs of what is to come. The days are getting increasingly shorter and the early morning temperatures for our walk along the Susquehanna River are a little cooler.
This past Sunday Mr. Smith and I decided to take advantage of the waning summer weekends and headed out to hike the Nescopeck Ponds Loop Trail near Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. It was a fairly easy hike with part of it running along Lake Frances.
Back home post hike, I decided to gather up some of my favorite pampering items and retreat to my bathtub. After a lovely soak (long enough for Mr. Smith to poke his head in and inquire if I needed anything), I emerged and lotioned up with some of my favorites. Even though it was only 4:00 p.m., I donned a white vintage cotton nightdress that I’m very fond of. I’ve never been a “sweats” girl and have finally discovered my comfort zone in flowing caftans, silk robes, classic pajamas or elegant nighties.
While I adore my beautiful lounge wear, it’s not practical for me to hang out in it all day. I enjoy getting dressed to greet the day. I dress in my favorite clothes which these days leaves me all dressed up with nowhere to go! What’s a girl to do? Apparently, even NPR now thinks we should put on a house dress!
I grew up on Donna Reed and June Clever. I watched them vacuum in pearls and heels and make dinner wearing an adorable little, albeit useless, frilly apron. That of course was TV, but even in our home my mom ran the house all while wearing a dress for years. Where did the house dress come from you might ask? Enter the Mother Hubbard dress. A daughter of the Victorian dress reform movement in the early 1900s, the Mother Hubbard dress, a long, wide, loose-fitting gown was designed to cover as much skin as possible. The gift of the dress was that it freed women from the constriction of corsets that fashion often imposed on women.
Then came Nell Donnelly Reed, a woman who wanted to look nicely dressed, even while working at home. She eschewed the unflattering 69 cent dresses being marketed to housewives in the early 1900s, telling the New York Times that she wanted to “make women look pretty when they are washing dishes.” A fashion designer and businesswoman, she founded the Nelly Don brand and in 1919, established the Donnelly Garment Company. In 1922, Kansas City voted Nell its most illustrious businesswoman for her success in turning them into a successful center for ready-to-wear production.
In 1942, another American fashion designer, Claire McCardell, introduced the “popover” wrap dress featuring copious pockets and a matching oven mitt. Although an informal garment, the house dress, particularly during the 1950s, was intended to be stylish and feminine.
As NPR queries, “Can a simple dress become a coping mechanism for the pandemic age?” I certainly understand the appeal of a dress, the one and done concept. Pull on a dress, brush your hair and you are ready to meet the day.
I’m quite sure I’ll never match the coolness of my granddaughter, Elizabeth, and these days I’m more likely to push a button to start the dishwasher than to spend a lot of time washing dishes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good. While I continue to search for my perfect “Stormy” housedress, I may have to order some fancy rubber gloves to up my glam game!
Check out the blog on Sunday when I try to figure out – am I domestic goddess or a control freak!
C’est la vie.