Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Janette The Woman in a Dressing Gown

When my friends or strangers knock on my door and I do not expect them they are likely to find me in my dressing gown. They are shocked! It seems to their normal conservative lives that living in a dressing gown qualifies one in the slut category. A woman in a dressing gown is beyond saving.

I have given up trying to explain that professional performing artists live in their dressing gowns. For us it is the norm. Sitting around for hours in cold theaters and film sets with tissues draped over every white collar and cuff to keep the make up off the costumes or getting ready in one's cold dressing room in Bradford a good warm cuddly dressing gown is a tool of the trade.

To me a dressing gown is the real me. I have lived in one nearly all my life. When I go out I put on my going out costume or for normal people my everyday dress but my dressing gown is what I live in all day.

This wasn't always the case. When I was young there was a war and clothing coupons so I did not get a real dressing gown until I went to Aldeburgh, my first job away when I was 15. I was so thrilled but I bought a cotton one which for UK was not warm enough for sitting about in freezing churches at 10 pm and it was too long so it got wet on the muddy paths on the way from the dressing rooms 100 yard away in the rectory. I learned my lesson after that. Since then all my dressing gowns have been short, very warm and when in the theatre a shade of peach so as not to show the powder. Now I favor black!

It was at my ballet school, Arts Educational Schools in London, where the importance of a dressing gown was forcefully drummed into me. The little ballet dancers had to don a housecoat to move from class to class. It was forbidden to appear in ballet practice gear in any other place other than the studio. Our housecoats were very unglamorous, a nasty shade of grey cotton with a tight bright blue web belt that was a torture to wear.

I think my favorite dressing gown time was during the interval between shows in London musicals on Saturdays. For me this was a magical time. Food was shipped in from the Act 1 Scene 1 cafe and I just loved their jam doughnuts. We used to visit each other in the dressing rooms which were warm and cosy with the light bulbs around the mirrors and the delicious smell of make up. We never got fat. One dressing room I was allotted in The Cambridge Theatre was 72 stairs up and the lift wasn't working. On a matinee day I climbed the Post Office Tower twice. When I caught a cold my dresser had to bring my costumes downstairs.

And so began my life in a dressing gown which still lingers to this day. It is so comfortable and I am not going to give it up! So next time you call to see me unannounced do not be surprised to find me in my dressing gown.

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