It was easier when I was younger. Forget shops. Back then when I longed to get my hands on a fabulous frock all I had to do was head straight to mum’s wardrobe. At the age of five I would regularly struggle into a dress I thought was the most glamorous thing I’d ever seen. It was a long, slinky, black number with a red sequin diamond on the front – very 1977. Sure I was swimming in it but I didn’t care. Instead I swished around in that dress catching glimpses of myself in the mirror whilst pretending to mix martinis and make small talk with my dear friend Baby Alive. This dress-up ritual, which occurred whenever mum was out, lasted right up until my brother caught me and somewhat harshly pointed out that in his opinion I looked like Klinger from MASH.
These days trying on a fabulous frock still leaves me swishing around in front of a mirror, pretend martini in hand. Be it a strappy sundress or a sultry cocktail shift there’s something about the power of a dress to transform how we feel about ourselves. With the pull of a zip we can instantly get a bit of va-va-va-voom back into our lives. After all, it’s a dress – not trousers, not skirts – that can give you your mojo back. And every single one of them ends up with a story. First dates. Last dates. Some lucky. Some jinxed.
Nobody knows about the power of a pretty frock better than Sacha Drake. Sacha’s specialty is designing beautiful dresses and her creations are all about transforming a woman’s sense of self.
Which is why she makes a habit of gathering up a selection of dresses and heading to a local women’s hostel – a safe haven for women who have experienced domestic violence, financial troubles, homelessness and who have just a scrape of self-worth left. Many arrive at the hostel doorstep with just the clothes they are wearing.
And so, with this in mind, Sacha carefully and lovingly dresses each woman in a beautiful dress. One they can keep.
“Their reactions are always very moving – both for me and for them,” says Sacha. “Seeing themselves look beautiful helps these women feel they can be beautiful again.”
I love that.
Now let’s be frank. Many of us have dozens of clothes we never wear.
So for this month’s First Wednesday Club, I’m asking you to keep your $10 in your pocket and instead go through your wardrobe and pick out a dress you haven’t worn for years and pass it on. To a Red Cross or Lifeline or Salvation Army Shop. Or to a women’s hostel. Or to Dress For Success. Is a dress a bit frivilous? Sure. But that’s the point. At this time of year don’t we all deserve to have a moment to feel pretty? Beautiful? Gorgeous? It’s Christmas after all. Give someone else the chance to be reminded that there is more to them than stained jeans and faded t-shirts. That there is potential there still to be fulfilled. That they too can get their mojo back. Pretend martini optional.
Do you have a favourite dress memory or moment? Do you remember the first dress you ever wore? Has a dress ever changed the way you feel about yourself?