A word on fashion dissonance (aka wearing the wrong thing)
For those of you not versed in psychology speak, “dissonance” is an uncomfortable mental state –a feeling of mental tension – which you feel when there’s “a combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements” in your life. Generally, we’ll do anything to reduce feelings of dissonance (trust me – I did my psychology thesis on this).
Anyway. Dissonance. I feel it a lot in terms of fashion.
There’s the time, for example, when you walk into your friend’s dinner party dolled up to the nines and realise it was actually just a casual supper and everyone’s in shorts – and you want more than anything to run home and get changed. Or the time when you pop into the class parents’ meeting in your beach maxi and flip-flops to see all the other mums looking like they’re about to meet the Queen, and you wish the floor would open and swallow you up.
Usually for me, fashion dissonance takes the form of me being inappropriately over- or under-dressed – although I do tend to think that, in Dubai, there isn’t that much of an issue about being over-dressed. Strappy little chiffon frock, heels and hat at 7.30am drop-off? Hell, why not!
But today I got the fashion dissonance feeling in a different way to usual. Today, when I did the morning school run, it was 11˚C. That’s about the equivalent of -40˚C for those who don’t live in the hotter parts of the Middle East. When I picked up DS at 1pm, it had sneaked up to 14˚C, which is about the equivalent of -30˚C in the rest of the world, but there was a wind chill (seriously, a cold wind blowing from, I swear, the Arctic) that made it “feel like” about 5˚C.
But when I picked up DD at 2.40pm, the car was reading 23.5˚C and it felt like 35˚C (probably as I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a long, thick jumper, socks, boots and a scarf).
And then I went to a children’s party. I knew it would be in the garden, so I retained the Eskimo outfit despite the “heat” but, as I walked in, I saw the hostess was wearing a short, strappy sundress. Most of the mums were in t-shirts and cropped jeans with sandals. Talk about fashion dissonance. I felt like a total freak and – feel for me here – there wasn’t even any wine to take the edge off.
So I was torn between leaving DS to fend for himself on the bouncy castle while I drove home to sling on something cooler, or brazening it out. Really: I wavered for a bit.
But I managed to distract myself by eating some cheese balls and then the sun started to dip. The garden fell into shade; the temperature plummeted again and, suddenly, I didn’t feel so silly. Even the hostess came out with a jacket over her sundress. The moral of the story about fashion dissonance? Sometimes it pays to ride it out.