In praise of the dressing gown

by Toby Manhire / 23 October, 2013
A moving tribute to that most loyal of garments.
A dressing gown. May not in fact be Ashleigh Young's dressing gown.


Ashleigh Young is a talented Wellington poet and editor. She’s had poetry published in the Listener. She runs the Twitter poetry night, which recently sported an appearance by Judith Collins. She writes an excellent blog, EyelashRoaming, where she recently published a persuasive rejoinder to Simon Wilson on that whole Janet-Malcolm-Twitter-long-form-journalism scrap. Manchester United is not trying to get rid of her.

And now she has written, at last someone has, a paean to the dressing gown.

“Most clothes, when you put them on, demand things of you,” she says. “That you put on socks and shoes. That you brush your hair. That you put on a belt to hold the clothes on. The dressing gown makes no demands. It’s at one with whatever you’re doing.”

This is more than just some garment.

“A month or so ago, I was at work when I felt like all the shutters in my brain began to drop down, one by one. I couldn’t see out, no one could see in,” says Young, writing in Mental Health Awareness Week.

“An odd sort of panic set in. I was afraid because I couldn’t communicate how terrible everything was, and everybody else was oblivious. Luckily I was able to go home. Getting undressed – just getting the weight and prickle of ordinary clothes off me – and putting on a dressing gown felt good. I felt immense gratitude for the dressing gown. And I began to feel better the next day. So – to dressing gowns, and to the way they enfold us without judgement.”

Read the rest here.
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