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  • Alicia McCaslin

While You Were Sleeping

I’m sure Elizabeth would agree - Instagram kept her businesses alive during the bleakest weeks of COVID. Having a platform that brings the boutique to you has been a useful tool, but not the lifeline it was the period of shutdown. I’d like to congratulate everyone in the Alexandria Stylebook community for their tenacious and creative efforts at believing in themselves and all of you. Marketing is a fascinating concept. Before the internet, print ads would relay what the small business offered and display some of the wares. We now have an entire generation that has known nothing but the immediacy of product offerings. To marketers, this has been a game-changer.I’m about to show you the invitation to my AARP card… A few of you may remember the Faberge Organics Shampoo television ad with Heather Locklear. I’ll shed light for those who are in the dark - Heather came on and shared how her hair felt and looked after using the shampoo. Basically, she said you’ll love it so much that you’ll want to tell your friends and then they’ll tell their friends… and so on, and so on. Instagram is all about the sharing aspect but on a cyber wave type of community. This ripple effect can make someone or something “instafamous” or “instagrammy” in a matter of seconds.Which brings me to what happened while we were sleeping. There’s a new moniker that has developed throughout our year in hibernation. It’s the “grand millennial,” otherwise known as granny chic. This style began in the home interior markets. To be fair, the millennials are doing what so many generations before them have done - they’ve changed the channel. They want something different than black and white and farmhouse practicality. In response to minimalism, the granny chic set yearns for traditionalism, color, and beauty with a healthy dose of sustainability and vintage.Interiors and fashion are closely connected. This begs the question of what you’ll be wearing with chintz, needlepoint, and toile. Never fear, the “The Nap Dress” is here! There are days I wake up, and I’m quite certain fashion is mocking me. In this case, my brother-in-law (and writer in his own right) sent me a text early one Sunday morning.

First, let me define the garment beyond its obvious intention. The “Nap Dress” has been trademarked by Nell Diamond of Hill House Home. While one might imagine this concept was developed during lockdown, Ms. Diamond had been preparing for this perfect storm two years prior to the pandemic. What might seem ironic is that she was an analyst for LVMH and Deutsche Bank with a Yale MBA on the trading floor amongst men wearing Patagonia vests - otherwise known as the uniform. I’ve realized many grand innovators have a footing in finance or economics. So, this “Victorian ghost” aesthetic Ms. Diamond was creating for herself is an example of “the right place at the right time” paired with a conservative business mindset.The dress itself is best described as something you have seen on Bridgerton. The bodice is snug, leaving everything below flowing and off the body. In theory, this is a dress that offers femininity, comfort, and romance. But, had it not been for my deep dive into Bridgerton, I may have had an impossible time finding anything remotely sexy about the style. Instead, it reminds me of the adorable nightgown I had for Lane when she was a toddler - so sweet and innocent. That might be part of the allure of this insta-famous style. The marketing of the Nap Dress during COVID was the secret sauce.

Below is an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal written by Rory Satran.Eva Chen, the vice president of fashion partnerships at Instagram, extolled Ms. Diamond’s use of the app. The Nap Dress, she said, “feeds that flywheel of: You can get it really quickly, then you wear it, you post a picture, then three of your friends want it. It has that amazing ripple effect.” She explained that the trend was “Instagrammy,” meaning “it has an ‘I want it in my life right now’ effect.” Some of you might be familiar with the term “trick baby.” This is what I call the infant that belongs to someone else and influences others to expand the family. The Nap Dress and its Instagrammy effect has many women wanting to create that moment in their world where everything seemed soft and dreamy - babies and puppies apply here. The consumer response to this style has created many business decisions and similar iterations from a variety of designers. We are now in a sea of styles that have women reminded of everything from the Oregon Trail, Laura Ashley, and The Age of Innocence. As a stylist who is sought for her opinions on trends and “how to wear” advice, I’ve carefully deconstructed the style with some thoughtful tips. Quite simply, one does not want to be mistaken for the “patient.” Wisdom comes with age, and there are ways to keep this style intentional. Try to...• Wear a modern shoe that speaks to something fresh• Play up this style with a hairstyle that is in contrast with the ultra-feminine aspects of the dress• Avoid the “costume” appearance by getting the length correct - scale is everything!• Utilize sunglasses with a modern sensibility• Keep jewelry either at a minimum or go impactful• Pay attention to the ruffle - removing the ruffle can often clean up the confection ;)

If you are interested in exploring the romance of this style, pop into The Hive before they get swept away for photo ops!

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