T’is the season to be jolly (sparkly)
Alongside the box of Christmas baubles ceremoniously lifted down from the loft every December, there are certain wardrobe items that only get a look in this month. My two sparkly navy sweaters, one knitted, one Lurex, some shimmering seasonal hosiery in bronze, a pair of gold leather loafers and my beloved vintage chandelier earrings. (Not to be worn all at once; I don’t want to be mistaken for the tree.) For me, these twinkling accessories and items of clothing ritualistically mark the festive season as much as arranging fairy lights at the window.
It’s interesting that culturally, our darkest months offer a sequence of celebrations that involve illumination. As though to compensate for the enfolding gloom, we have Halloween’s glowing lanterns and lit pumpkins; Diwali’s neon and flickering candles, the spectacular firework displays at Bonfire Night and of course the tinsel and lights of Christmas, a sight to illicit delight in children and warmth in the less jaded adults.
My sense is that we need more light than ever this year because the times are…darker. That’s not my imagination or a reflection of this year’s awfulness but the reality. In many cities, the deeper darkness we’re all experiencing is due to the gradual replacement of old sodium streetlights with more energy efficient LED lighting. All of a sudden, we find ourselves somewhere more shadowy, as if walking around in a 1960’s police drama like Dixon of Dock Green. It’s as though someone has switched the dimmer switch very low.
Environmentalism was also at the heart of the recent decision of several supermarkets and stores including Asda, Waitrose and John Lewis to ban glitter on their own brand products. The stuff of Christmas cards and wrapping paper found itself in the eco dog house last year when scientists called for a total ban over concerns the tiny particles of ‘glitter litter’ were polluting oceans, damaging rivers and marine life and could enter the food chain. Sequins too have recently come under fire for the same reason (see here) and as a response, some designers such as Elissa Brunato have developed biodegradable plant-based sequins.
There is a certainly a great deal to be concerned about and the more we know, the more the temptation to slip into a widow’s weeds and go into a period of sartorial mourning for ourselves and families, the planet and our future. Conversely, we may decide to brighten our wardrobes. This is the one time of the year, we don’t need an excuse to scintillate, we don’t need an invitation, a party or occasion (just as well with this year’s Covid restrictions.) We can just razzle dazzle for our own sense of wellbeing, in a spirit of optimism and good cheer and because December is open season for shimmying.
Wishing everyone a sparkling season ahead.
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