‘Round about May, when it became apparent that I might not be going anywhere for the remainder of 2020, I bought myself two dresses to wear around the house. I wouldn’t call them house-dresses exactly, but they aren’t work-wear. Let’s call them pan-dresses: dresses to get you through a pandemic.

Behold one of the pan-dresses!
It’s NSFW (in ways that shall be revealed), but offers so much to love.
Shibori-inspired print, apron-styling, and quilting.
New dress!

Indeed, it’s like two of my favorite things — my best apron and my thickest potholder — joined forces to make me a pandemic ballgown
We’re all getting a little strange, right?
In March and April, I was cooking and baking a ton. Sometimes, I sat down to eat dinner while wearing my apron. I realized that doing so was actually very convenient because the apron not only protected my clothes while I was working in the kitchen, but while I was eating. Then in May, I eased off the cooking and baking, but continued to wear the apron for meals. In June, I realized that without the cooking, I was wearing a bib.
Weird. And pitiful. But it’s such a good idea.

O.K. Never mind the bizarre confessions. Come closer and see the quilting.
I said come closer

Don’t be afraid. I am wearing a mask.
Do you see that blue thing in the background? That’s my nemesis.

There. Can you see the diamond patterned quilting on the bodice of the dress?
It’s purely decorative — in fact, some might say that adding layers (for quilting) to the bodice of a sundress is a design flaw in warn-weather clothing — but so charming.
I was charmed when I saw it on the Internet

You may need to come closer to see this.
Is closer better?

See? Very charming.
What’s that? You want to hear about my nemesis?
Get comfortable. We may be here for awhile.
What’s that in the background, you ask? Another blue nemesis?

The building next door to mine launched a big capital improvement project — replacing all windows — in February.
That squat dumpster is where all the old windows are tossed. It is one of a fleet of equally unprepossessing dumpsters. Two or three times a week the full dumpster is replaced with an empty one.
I think this portable toilet was listed on Waze at some point as a public accommodation
Hearing rubbish going into the dumpster — shattering glass, weights dropped on metal — is a minor irritation of city living. But hearing the dumpster being replaced two or three times a week is driving me crazy. It involves a truck backing up, which seems to take — no exaggeration — 30 minutes to align perfectly with the dumpster, so that it can be dragged by cables and gears — which sound like a hundred banshees — on to the bed of a flatbed truck. And I am always in a meeting when this happens.
I have no beef with the toilet that was brought on-site for the workers. It was actually a source of some amusement in February. On the weekends, when no work was being done on the building and no workers were around, I noticed a surprising number of men+ using it, as thought it were a public restroom on the Mall.*

It was very odd because we are not near any tourist attractions and the stores and restaurants in the neighborhood have bathrooms for customers. So I am not sure how people were finding this portable toilet. Or why anyone would open the door of any portable toilet located on private property off a municipal alleyway.
Since March, though, the toilet is very quiet. I never see anyone going in or out.
But we have more important unresolved issues to discuss. My pan-dress!
I told you it was NSFW. The straps are laced through the back panels and tied in a box at the waist. It is supposed to be worn solo — i.e., with an exposed back — but my sense of modesty is so deeply ingrained that I cannot wear a backless dress to work at home! I recognize that this is also weird and pitiful.
I am wearing a silk camisole underneath.
I need to find a better solution as there are far too many straps here.
Unresolved issues

One last weird/pitiful confession.
The skirt of this dress is pretty full. If Mr. Orange or Philo is napping on the floor, it amuses me to kneel right next to him, cover him with the skirt (like Mother Ginger), and wait for his next move.
They usually do nothing.
So Mother Ginger

Dress: Ulla Johnson Jiya Quilted Midi Dress; Shoes: J-Slides
+ “Surprising number” means two or three. Not so many. But I was surprised that there were any.
* I am not suggesting that there was social activity going on inside the toilet. These men would just zip in and out as though they were using the convenience on a road trip. But they were on foot and, as previously mentioned, the toilet is on private property, abutting a building, off an alleyway.

17 thoughts on “Pan-Dressing”

  1. Oh so much to comment on: the charming dress, aprons at the table, noisy dumpsters, a portable dunny. Where to start? The dress is charming, just up my alley (no pun intended re the portapotty location), I can see how the exposed back might be too much, but there are too many straps. Maybe Fatima can whip up an interior modesty panel that snaps in underneath the laces? An apron at the table — I’m glad I’m not the only one. Dumpster dragging — oh my. Random men using men using a portable loo on private property, but not post-pandemic — I have nothing.

    • Yes! My father has worn an apron a dinner every day of my life. My mother embroiders his face on them. It’s such a artifact of our family.

      The dress is gorgeous. I would say the quilting stiffens that front panel, and for me might allow me to wear the dress without a bra. Or for myself, I note that adding quilting in side panels might allow me to feel comfortable without a bra. Overall a fabulous summer dress.

  2. The quilting does seem like an oddity – I have a barely-worn dress which is headed back to its maker for alternations precisely because its 2 halves cannot be comfortably worn at the same temperature setting (airy linen skirt, torso in 2 close-fitting layers of the same linen). But I like your idea of a cami under the straps and the execution looks great (or at the very least intentional).

  3. I like your perhaps unintentional pun — “These men would just zip in and out as though they were using the convenience on a road trip.” Zip up and down, LOL?!

    But that takes me to the usual ease of dressing question — men zip up and down, while women, well, you know. I love your dress, but I think it must require two people to get you into it?

  4. A conversation that happens all the time during our photo shoots:

    Me: “I’m gonna get that in the background.”

    She: “That’s a car/trailer/dumpster/porta-potty!”

    Me: “But the color’s fun.”

    She: “I don’t want all that mess in the background!”

    Me (soothingly): “It’s an urban environment, dear.”

    In this case, I thought the blue of the porta-potty was a fun complement to the blue of her dress. And so it went in! By the way, the flowering crape-myrtle tree behind her is one we paid to plant on the property as a tribute to my dear departed cat Elvis. I buried a bit of his ashes at the roots. So now, every summer, when the tree blooms, I touch one of the flowers and think that maybe I’m touching a few of his atoms. It’s a beautiful tree and it always makes me happy when it blooms in July.

  5. I enjoyed your dumpster-moving experience and I can relate! A smaller but equally annoying renovation project is under way a few doors away from my home office and there have been five replacements of the dumpster so far. Why does it seem to coincide with a Webex call every time? However, once we’re past the irritation of the noise (accurately described above as heavy metal scraping concrete), I am impressed at the skill of the dumpster-hauler-driver to back into and out of a narrow street and a small driveway, like threading a needle. I would have missed all this if we were in the office!

  6. I love the dress. We had a porta potty in our yard during a painting project and my kids swear it became a drug drop off point. A strange number of people went in and out at strange times of day. The most common sight was someone pacing up and down the sidewalk in front of our house while talking on a cell phone, then hopping into the “Honey Bucket” for just a moment, then quickly racing back out, usually into a waiting car. It was better than TV.

  7. D, what about a blue tube top underneath instead of camisole and brassiere? That would eliminate your strap chaos. Do they even make tube tops anymore? The front of the dress looks heavy enough to conceal bralessness.

  8. The dress is very pretty. The more I looked at the straps the more agreeable I found them. On the other hand, is there such a contraption as a long strapless bra that hooks in the front? No doubt uncomfortable.
    Of portapotties and dumpsters I can sing, but being back to back with the church of the internal combustion engine takes the cake. Why can’t averyone remain quietly in their varied rooms?

  9. This is the content I need! 😀 I love the dress, and the attempts to interest the cats in the skirt. I accidentally taught my baby to play peek-a-boo with my long skirts – one day I draped my skirt over her head just for fun, the next she was pulling it over her own head and grinning up at me. It’s too cute to discourage.


Leave a Comment