I live in a small inner city apartment, with no balcony or garden – and I’m fine with that, because although I am green-fingered I am also lazy. As I age I learn things about myself and one thing I know is that I like gardens but I definitely hate gardening – watering my orchids and succulents in my apartment is about as much as I can be effed with at this stage of my life. Luckily for me, Wellington provides many green areas for my enjoyment, including the rather beautiful Botanic Gardens.
While I support everyone’s right to wear what suits them best and what they feel best in, for those who are thinking “this is a frigging stupid outfit to wear for a walk in the Gardens”, here is my rebuttal.
The Gardens are not an athletic pursuit
It’s only in recent decades that people have decided that walking on well-maintained paths at a slight gradient is so strenuous that full athletic gear is necessary. Personally, I find a gentle stroll through the Gardens is achievable in almost any footwear that sports a heel of 2 or fewer inches. In my younger years I once did a drunken running race in the Gardens in proper high heels, but let’s consider that an exception.
To that point, I once showed up to help a friend move house in a pair of boots that I considered my “casual, all purpose” boots. Her Mum was also there and asked why I’d turned up to help with moving in high heels. I did not realise the boots had a high heel. (I was also very helpful and in no way constrained by my footwear).
In any case, wear a neat pair of loafers or brogues with a pretty dress or some smart trousers and you get the same practical outcome without the vibe that you might, at any moment, need to go home and do the vacuuming or scrub the bathroom. I think that’s important because…
Appreciation is real
The Garden is very beautiful. A group of dedicated people work their butts off in all weather to make sure that they are beautiful. Do you think that those lawns mow themselves? No bud, they do not. Also, the Garden is full of excellent surprises like the beehives a friend once showed me. They are a treat and I think dressing up to complement the Gardens also compliments the gardeners.
Imagine if we all showed up to the Gardens in our Sunday best instead of something that looks like you think you might have to break into a short jog any minute now. IT WOULD BE SPLENDIFEROUS. Imagine all the bright colours and fabulous hats! The men in beautiful shirts with matching accessories! The doggies with bandannas and the children with adorable dungarees! *makes note to make “Sunday Best in the Gardens” a thing*
I think the benefits of dressing up in the Gardens are real because…
A vibe is as good as a holiday
It’s a mood, as the youth would say. You guys know I believe that the way you dress sends you subconscious messages (and I say “I believe” but I mean “science tells us”). I wear a pretty floral dress into the Gardens to look at daffodils and read a book all about research into bumblebees = I feel like I’ve had a refreshing life break/transported myself back to a simpler time. Next time: a picnic.
You can’t always be in a totally different place when you need a break but you can do the old “change your look, change your mood” trick. It’s the same as wearing a fabulous silk cover up to the beach instead of some ratty old tshirt, or cracking out a bright red lip on a Sunday afternoon when you feel a bit “oh fuck it’s work tomorrow”.
If you’re in doubt that dressing up will mood shift you, may I introduce you to…
Eccentric English ladies (they’re my role models TBH)
There’s an entire bit of fashion history dedicated to the completely mad things that women have worn for the purposes of gardening. Please note the following excellent ladies:
With the possible exception of Valerie Finnis in the first pic, they were not dressed up for the photographer. This is how they gardened AND to be clear, they really gardened. They were pioneers in garden design and they did it all in a get up that exceeds my most splendid outfits. They understood that style is something that is suitable for every part of a person’s life and interests – that if you want to wear specially designed boots with a riding jacket and a fabulous hat while you have a serious discussion with your arborist this will not affect your reasoning and in fact may be good for your confidence. If anything, I am disappointed in myself for merely wearing this outfit.
We have months and months of warm weather ahead, so lots of opportunities to wear something a bit spesh in places that really deserve it. Plus! You know I believe in getting good wear from your wardrobe, so why save your prettiest dresses for parties when you could saunter about in them 50% more frequently. I look forward to a massive run on “kaftans silk colourful” on TradeMe as we all start to channel a beach glamour vibe (you can chase your kids or play beach cricket just as easily, don’t worry). What’s your favourite “summer outdoors” occasion to dress for?