During the pandemic, I haven’t missed going out as much as I’ve missed the process of getting ready with friends. There’s an intimate rush that comes with the most simple parts of getting ready with a gaggle of confidantes, whether we’re applying lip liner (we actually use brow liner for the top lip), figuring out what shoe to slip into (whatever it is, make it Manolos), or shimmying underwear up over the hips (usually a thong—or nothing at all). There’s always music: something Janet, something Madonna, something Mariah. No matter who you are or who you are with, there’s always red-hot camaraderie.
This experience flickered away during the pandemic. Restaurants shuttered. Parties went bye-bye. Nightclubs? Forget it. Yet as the world quietly (and unstably) comes back to life, so has getting ready in groups. Recently, when I was with a few friends who both have killer closets, we took the opportunity to get “fashioned out,” even though we were heading to a very small get-together.
My friend stylist Yohana Lebasi was celebrating her work at the National Gallery in London and wanted to dress to the nines for the occasion. Her reference? A photo of a 20-something-year-old Sofia Coppola wearing a semi-sheer purple lace slip dress that showed off a black thong. Lebasi made the look her own by wearing a fuchsia thong that shone through a vintage Dior dress with the tags still on it. (Lebasi is a fantastic shopper and found it on eBay for zilch.) Topped off with Prada heels, a Vivienne Westwood scarf, and an old Celine coat, she was the ultimate babe.
Anny Choi, who had once been Vogue’s market editor, re-created a sizzling mini shorts-and-sweater look from the Marc Jacobs fall 2013 collection (look 9 to be exact.) Her outfit consisted of a teeny Hesperios cardigan, Marc Jacobs micro- shorts (a bargain found on The RealReal), and a pair of black patent leather Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes. It only took us an hour to get ready (or maybe an hour and a half?). During this time we learned everything about one another’s clothes, reminisced about work, discussed who was dating who, and shared whatever gossip we had. When was the last time we did that? I couldn’t remember.
The ritual of women getting ready together is immortalized in films. The opening of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion shows the two best friends, played by Mia Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, get ready to go out in red body-skimming pleather and ostrich-trimmed jackets. “Oh, it’s definitely the cutest. Don’t you love how we can just say that to each other and you know that we aren’t being conceited?” says Michele. Romy replies, “Oh, I know, we are just being honest.” In The Sweetest Thing, Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate are on a road trip and need to change clothes. Cue a montage of them undressing and dressing up until they decide on outrageous looks. It’s ridiculous; it’s cute. And it doesn’t stop there: Similar scenes appear in Coyote Ugly, Clueless, Maid in Manhattan, and more. Each time, the women get a little closer—and we learn a bit more about each character.
So why is it such a bonding experience? Serena Morris, the creator of @shes__underrated, a fabulous mood board Instagram account of unsung, glamorous women, weighs in. “Getting ready to go out with girlfriends is like a sacred ceremony—it should be treated with respect and care,” says Morris. “Playlist bumping, tequila pouring, hips dropping, lips pouting. ‘Oops, we missed the Uber!’ Whatever! You all were likely having way more fun pretending to be ’90s supermodels at your friend’s place than rushing to whatever random party you were going to.”
Lebasi also nails the reason why women bond when they get ready together. “So much emotion is in the experience because you move through insecurities of being like, ‘I don’t like to show my arms.’ Then your girlfriends encourage you, like, ‘Oh, you look amazing.’ Then you get to the final product and that is magic.” Cheers to that.