In Charity, Dresses on October 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I have a worn a dress every day since October 6th. In all that time jeans have not been on my body, which must make it my longest break from denim since I was 12.

Why? Because October 6th was the day I read a tweet by @pottymouthmama introducing me to the concept of Frocktober. I immediately signed up.

Forgive me for not already knowing about this brilliant Aussie charity initiative, which raises money to support the work of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, through the marvellous medium of FROCKS, which has been going since 2007.

In a similar vein to the hilarious Movember, where Aussie men are sponsored to grow moustaches in November in aid of prostate cancer (my husband did it last year, looked hideous, but raised quite a bit), for this one you commit to wearing a dress every day in October.

You can also organise group events where everyone wears dresses, frock swaps, whatever, but it was the challenge of wearing a dress every single day which appealed to me.

How could I resist the allure of having something new to obsess on when I get dressed in the morning? I also committed to posting a pic of the frock I’m wearing each day on Twitter.

So how has it been? It’s been wonderful. I’ve loved it for so many reasons. Most of all, because it’s given me a reason to get dressed mindfully again.

One of the disadvantages of working from home – or in a small rented office on my own, as I do – is that you give up on that. You don’t have to make the effort, so you don’t.

It’s ten years since I worked in an office and as that time has also coincided with me becoming a mother and moving out of a big city to a provincial town, the time, energy and motivation to dress properly have all been severely compromised.

And once I stopped covering the fashion shows twice a year in Paris and Milan, I really lost my incentive to make an effort, until it had reached the point where I even wondered if I could do it any more.

On the days when I go up to London for lunches and meetings, I’ve really had to think how to dress as a grown up again, because I wasn’t doing it as a daily activity. And as you know, any skill – from piano scales to golf swings – that goes unpractised, quickly atrophies.

What was joyous for me then, was to discover that, like the old saw about riding a bike, once I got back on, I could still do it. Do it and love it. This project has reminded me how much I enjoy the process of putting an outfit together. Starting with one element – in this case, the dress – and building up from that.

As opposed to grabbing the nearest jeans, the cleanest T shirt and the same jacket every single day…

It’s made me delve into my wardrobe and discover what a fine collection of dresses I’ve built up over the years. And that many of them, which I’ve only ever worn to parties, can work really for day if you play them down with a butch shoe and – my best friend – a cardigan.

Frocktobering has also got me back into wearing proper structured shoes again, because you can’t wear trainers and Converse with dresses. Well, you can, when you’re 18.

This has made me understand that the entire rubber-soled sneaker genre softens you up, in the same way elasticated waists do. You get so used to wearing shoes that mould around your feet, putting on a rigid leather shoe feels like torture.

But after a few days of wearing loafers, brogues and my various heeled day shoes, I was completely used to wearing a structured shoe again – and loving it. I think they’re more comfortable actually.

The other clothing discipline it’s got me back into is wearing tights. I’ve worn them so seldom in the past few years, I’d reached the point where I couldn’t bear to have them on my body, but once the weather started to cool in the second week of October I had no choice. It’s been black opaques every day since and I don’t even notice I’ve got them on any more.

Above all, getting dressed – actually in a dress – putting together an outfit, wearing a proper shoe, has meant putting on make up, doing my hair and all the other civilising details you can skimp on when you’re slopping about in jeans and Converse every day.

I stand better in my dresses, I feel more like my real self in them – and that’s all boosted my self esteem and my mood.

All of that and I’ve raised $234.50 for this most worthy cause. If you’d like to help me raise more, I’d be so grateful. Here’s the link.

And may I also urge you to sponsor the wonderful David Berkelmans, who is up to $2000 and going for $5000. I reckon he’s earned every cent.

And in case you’re wondering, the picture of the top is Claudia Cardinale working a frock as only an Italian diva can. And here’s Uma Thurman in my favourite frock moments of recent times.

  1. One of the nice things about getting older (and having grown poor over the years from buying quality pieces) is that because you can’t bear to throw them away, you end up with a great collection that may only need the latest ankle boot/sunglasses/belt to bring them into the now. And nothing nicer than being complimented on your skirt and smugly replying ‘this old thing’ hee hee! I’ve missed your posts Maggie….I love the photo of Claudia.

    • My own wardrobe has been like a treasure trove of forgotten delights! And the thing of wearing ‘evening’ things in the day. It has been so freeing. I can’t wait to get dressed each morning… x

    • Thank you Maggie. I have also been wearing a dress most days and remembering how much I love them even in comparison to skirts or pants. Frocktober is a wonderful idea started by some wonderful young people wanting to make a contribution. What a fabulous way to do that. I am a proud Mum. Susan

  2. love all the shades of blue, I’ll take this as a trend suggestion, “Blue is back” yay,
    I also love dresses, lengthening, less tuck ins, makes up most of the outfit, flattering.

  3. I feel like I’m going the other way. I’ve just started a job with a uniform – simple little blue polo shirt, black pants/shorts/skirt and black cardi; and comfortable black footwear – boots, Mary-Janes, Birkenstocks. The feeling of liberation from standing in front of the wardrobe agonising over what to wear is wonderful. Now I dress according to the weather – and that’s it. And I don’t miss anything about my previous clothes-horse work-life. It’s taken me nearly 50 years to get here – having been a ‘fashionista’ since the age of 5 when, watching Top of the Pops, I discovered both fashion and dancing and fell in love with both. I think I might have just turned into my mother!

  4. As, like me, I gather you are petite but bosomy, how do you find dresses that fit? I find it so difficult that I have given up on dresses and have moved to stretchy tops plus skirts. But yay for dresses and skirts! I love them! Now if only I could find some that a) suit me and b) are in my price range. Of course, going into a shop every now and then might help. How can it be that I like clothes but hate shopping? Strange.

  5. I wish I’d known about Frocktober. – maybe I can do it for November- here in Brisbane – where it’s getting warmer. I too adore dresses – much more feminine – and a chance to dress up. I might get to wear some of my accessories that are lying around not being worn. Thanks Maggie.

  6. Dresses are like the wardrobe equivalent of good friends – never let you down, are easy to be with and bring out the best in you.
    Love the pictues of both Claudia and Uma Thurman. Claudia’s outfit you could wear today without looking dated (probably be a plus if you looked as gorgeous as she does).
    Love all your blue choices, too.

  7. Oh dresses. I LOVE them. Dress ’em up or down, so easy. At the moment I’m still breastfeeding daughter No.2 so I have about 2 dresses I can wear that I don’t have to hitch up and over the bazoombas for access. And as for Frocktober, what a fantastic idea, why haven’t I heard of it before??? Such a great cause too. Next year, I’m in.

    Thanks for the post Maggie, and thanks for responding to my comment! – I’m looking forward to your high50 links and the new book.

    PS I love how your blog always looks amazing, and appreciate how much of a fiddle it is, but pictureless text would suit me fine too, it worked in GW all those years after all!

  8. I committed to wearing dresses more often after reading your books ‘Shoe Money’…Oh Lordy, were you right about the effect on men! I’ve never had so many compliments from my husband (not to mention surreptitious stares from both genders in public) 🙂 And yes, dresses are so pretty, it does make you feel like making more of an effort with your hair, shoes, accessories etc. A wise woman pointed out to me years ago that dresses can be far gentler on your figure ‘flaws’ as well, as pants and shorts tend to reveal every hint of wobble or cellulite, however careful you are with colour, fabric and style. I’m petite too. I don’t have much to declare in the chestly department, but I do have high bust which makes most tops and dresses look indecently low-cut. I’ve found a solution though – Arianne on Edward (Brisbane + online) sell ‘Piikabu’ ‘mini-camis’ (matte or lace) that you can wear under tops, dresses, tunics, jackets etc. to cover a bit more of your cleavage if there’s just a bit too much showing. The style is beautiful and feminine rather than sporty (like a crop top). Of course plenty of other brands do boob tubes or crop tops, but these are the nicest I’ve found so far – adjustable spaghetti straps, great (non sweat inducing) fabric and awesome shape – I even wear them as outwear sometimes. I’ve been able to buy a few dresses that would have broken my heart to leave in the store since finding them, so hopefully this increases the range of wearable garments for others, too 🙂 Felicity, have you tried Metalicus? Their garments are super-stretchy, so you can have a small frame and a large bust and the garment will stretch in the appropriate places but cling where you want to show off. They can be pretty expensive but they do have a ‘sale’ page on their online store, and one of their stockists,, often has Metalicus garments on sale too – as well as a couple of other brands that make similar types of stretch-to-fit garments, like Mesop, Bellabwear and Vigorella. I love clothes but hate shopping too, so more and more these days I’m finding online shopping is the way to go. Just make sure they have a good returns and exchanges policy!

  9. I am proud(?) to say that David Berkelmans is my brother. Please donate to this very worthy cause.

  10. Thanks for the mention (I think).

    • You are a hero. I want to help you get to the top of that fund raising tree – send me pics to put on Twitter and it might help!

      • I’m currently on top of the Frocktober fundraising tree, but I’m totally behind David, he is truly awesome! Please everyone donate to David, help him get to $5,000!!! I ran a dance as a fundraiser and several of the guys wore dresses. Let me tell you, it is a guaranteed good night when you see a bloke in a frock and fishnets walk in the door.

        I’ve been loving Frocktober, a frock a day has taken some work, thank god for friends who have let me raid their wardrobes but I adore it. For me Frocktober is in memory of my Aunt who died of ovarian cancer last year. She made me some beautiful frocks over the years so it is especially appropriate.

        Thank you Maggie for spreading the word about Frocktober, lets get this going global!

  11. Dear Maggie, here I am in beautiful Sydney and ashamed to say that I didn’t know anything about Frocktober. Movember has been huge here for ages and lots of groovy young fellas do it around these parts (conveniently ties in with the current trend for 20/30 somethings to have facial hair). But FROCKTOBER, excellent news … will diarise it for next year and remind all my friends and clients. Great idea and excellent cause.
    Many thanks for the tip off and always great to have a new post from you on Stylenotes.
    PS how wonderful that first shot; frock, sandals, sand … adorable!

  12. I too have moved from a job which required business suits to a role in a call centre. Have tried very hard not to get sucked into the vortex of wearing jeans and t-shirts every day!

    I try to wear a skirt or dress two days a week.

    However, summer is on it’s way here in Melbourne Town, so it will be skirts and dresses all the way.

    Bring. It. On.

    BTW Maggie, I read you weekend column yesterday, have you been in NZ for the World Cup?

  13. Sounds great… dresses every day for nearly a month, cool. 🙂

    Thank you for enlightening me on FROCKTOBER – great concept, great cause.

  14. This is my second year doing Frocktober. As a non-dress wearer, prior to doing it last year I’d probably worn frocks about seven times in a decade. I feel very exposed in frock, and maybe it’s because of this but I do feel that people treat me differently – and not always for the better (ie: strange men in public are more leery and threatening).

    So while wearing frocks was challenge enough, I decided to up the ante this year and I’ve been replicating a stock photo while wearing a frock for every single day in October. So far I’ve raised over $1000.

    I was inspired to do this by the website, which is a silly internet meme in the making that asks you to, well, replicate stock photos — ridiculous things that they so often are.

    I’ve been posting all the photos here, if you or your readers are interested:

    And I fully support you call to donate to David; he is a legend for getting involved in the Frocktober cause.

  15. Hi Maggie

    I’m one of the organisers of Frocktober (that’s me in yellow on the front of our website…) and couldn’t help but reply, having enjoyed your column in the Melbourne Good Weekend for years. I love your idea of ‘dressing mindfully’ – as Frocktober is all about encouraging people and communities to be more mindful about both their outfits and their health!

    Love, frocks, and thanks for your support.

    Kathryn (and Frocktober Inc).

    PS. I’ll never forget one of your columns about how only certain lucky people can wear leopard print. Alas, not I.

    • Hey Kathryn – great to hear from you! I’m planning to give it one more push on the blog before Monday, see if I can just get a bit more in. It’s such a great cause and such a fun way to support it. But I am soooo looking forward to wearing jeans on Tuesday…. xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Fragrant Cloud

I think in perfume

Style Notes

Style Notes

The Grooming Guru

An Expert's Guide To Male Grooming

Mad About The House

The sourcebook for modern living is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

En Brogue

slow comfortable style

North/South Food

Eating across the North/South divide

Jack Monroe

The #1 budget recipe website

Liberty London Girl

Just another site

The Selvedge Yard

A historical record of artistry, anarchy, alchemy & authenticity.

Cattle & Cane

Country Chronicles

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: