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Dressing Up

Posted by Rosalind Jana Oxfam Fashion Blogger

8th Jan 2013

Can a line be drawn between dressing, and dressing up? On the most practical of levels it might be argued that 'dressing' is the choice of clothes on a daily basis, whilst 'dressing up' is a decision taken to look that little bit more fabulous. The latter can include costumes, disguises, formal events and flights of the imagination. 'Dressing up' is not pragmatic. Rather than mundane, it is marvelous. 

There are two specific types of dressing up that particularly excite me at the moment. The first is dressing up (or, as is often the case, asking a friend to do so) for the sake of a shoot. Clothes are used to create or complement a narrative; colours, shapes and texture all working in harmony for the lens's eye. I adore choosing a theme and proceeding to fling around hats, bags, dresses, tops, waistcoats, belts and skirts that might just work. The majority of those scattered pieces have humble origins. Aside from the occasional gift, the rest have been collected from thoroughly second hand sources. 

The charity shop, along with the once-in-a-blue-moon jumble sale, is the best resource for the decorative and out of the ordinary. Where else would it be possible to find a plastic ladybird cape, some faux fur and a shiny gown? Although these gems are occasional sparkles, the glimpse of something velvety or bright is always cheering. I justify purchases with my dressing up box - buying the most impractical items in the hope that they will one day find their find their way into a shoot. 

The pictures above illustrate the beginning of a new venture - a blog started with a best friend to showcase our collaborative photography projects. Flo (pictured) and I have been taking photos of each other for several years. As the shoots have grown progressively more ambitious, the theatrics of the outfits have been similarly ramped up. She has shot me in full-length thirties ball gowns in cornfields, whilst I've snapped her donned in a fifties frocks among flowers. 

When we began this seaside extravaganza, inspired in our ideas by selkies, sirens and mermaids, I turned to charity shops for help. The blue dress (or as I took to calling it - "the fringed monstrosity") was a chance encounter, pulled from between a winter coat and a long skirt on a London trip. Likewise, the seaweed green fabric of the long dress was noticed on a squashed rail as I was leaving a different charity shop. All these finds were fruitful - yielding a crop of good photos when combined with a balmy November morning and light rippling across the sea. The inexpensive cost of this shoot, with the location being free and the clothes relatively cheap, made this weekend feel fresh and spontaneous. We may have had cameras and lenses slung across our backs, but we were also just two young women taking it in turns to dress up and jump through the waves.

Oh, and the second type of dressing up that excites me? Parties - fancy dress, or otherwise. I'm currently in the process of collating a 'rainbow' get-up, meaning that my orange ankle socks and green skirt are going to need some even more colourful additions… and I know just where to find them.

Blog post written by Rosalind Jana

Oxfam Fashion Blogger

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Headshot of Roz Jana, Oxfam Fashion Blogger