This 73-year-old documented 150 days of dinner outfits during the pandemic

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic and having to mostly stay at home has meant wearing lots of comfy clothes.

But not for 73-year-old Calgarian Patricia Cavill, who recently hit her 150th day in a row of getting all dressed up to dine … at home.

On March 25, she began a series of posts on Facebook she dubbed “Dressing for Dinner” where she pledged to wear a different outfit every day until the pandemic was over.

She says she was inspired after hearing people talk about working from home who wear “day jammies” and “evening jammies” or just sweats while going about their work.

“My mom always said dressing well is about respect. I still believe that,” Cavill said.

Cavill says dressing up can make you feel better and, from her experience, work better. (Submitted by Patricia Cavill)

She says in her upbringing, it was important to dress up for every occasion, including having to wear her Sunday best.

And in the 1990s, when Cavill had a home consulting office, she said she just couldn’t work in her pyjamas.

“That didn’t work for me,” she said.

“Everyday, I dressed professionally even though I was by myself and I think it made me feel better and it made me work better.”

She says her dinner outfits she created were themed, based on how she organizes her closet. They ranged from leopard or other animal prints, “fancy pants,” dressing for the opera and Stampede-themed wear for the 10 days in July when the Calgary Stamped is normally held.

She says she even picked outfits to match a painting in her home, or a table setting or a glass of wine.

“Anything like that, that’s creative and fun,” she said.

Cavill says she wore dresses for her dinner at home throughout the month of June. (Submitted by Patricia Cavill)

Cavill says the process made her realize she has a lot of clothes in her wardrobe. (Submitted by Patricia Cavill)

And among those outfits over the 150 days there were zero repeats.

“Too many clothes, I have certainly discovered,” she said.

“I haven’t gotten to mixing and matching yet.” 

Cavill says June was the month for dresses — and she didn’t stray from that. She even went to the store to buy extra items to accommodate the pledge.

‘Not for anybody else’

For her, she says dressing up can make her feel better.

She volunteers at The Walk-In Closet, a Making Changes program that provides low-income women with professional attire.

“I like to say we’re in the self-esteem business,” she said. “They leave with their head held higher.”

Cavill shared all of her outfits on her Facebook page and she said that’s helped her get in touch with people from her past.

“What brightens my day is being back in touch on Facebook with former students, former people in my profession, colleagues, old friends, people I’ve never met,” she said.

“It’s just an absolute joy to be reconnected with people that way.”

She is also newly wed and is about to hit three months of marriage at the end of August. While her husband does not necessarily feel the same urge to dress up, he does do her photography.

Cavill says her outfits were based on themes that range from colours, prints or to match the decor in her home. (Patricia Cavill)

As for advice to others feeling cooped up at home?

Cavill says to “just try it.”

“Wash your hair, put on some makeup — dress up as if you’re going somewhere,” she said. “What you’re doing is all for yourself, not for anybody else.”

While the pandemic is not over, Cavill says she’ll be taking a break after her 150 day streak on Wednesday, but added she’ll keep posting her outfits — just maybe a bit less frequently.

“I’d like to wear jeans for a few days,” she said.


With files from CBC’s The Homestretch.

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