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Taryn de Vere

Taryn de Vere Dressing up as household objects reminded me of the importance of being playful

The artist looks back at her month-long #ObjectDressChallenge and shares the lessons she’s learned.

THE LAST TWO years of pandemic reality have been the busiest of my life.

At the start of it all, I was made redundant. My amazing social media followers rallied around buying things from my online shop which had me working seven days a week to fulfill all the orders. (I feel like everyone in Ireland probably owns one of my ‘Everything’s going to be ok’ badges by now.)

When the shops opened up again, my sales dropped and I started working as a freelancer in communications, social media and journalism. I worked 60-hour weeks and fell into an exhausted sleep every night. By December 2021, I was overworked, tired, and in desperate need of a holiday.

I decided to take January off to pursue creativity. Then I looked at the news and realised that whatever I decided to do, it would be safest to do it at home. Stuck in the house, I decided to be inspired by the house. I set myself the challenge of dressing as a different household item every day.

The idea was to stretch myself creatively and to learn how to wear the clothes I already have in different ways. I could not have expected that my outfits would become so popular that they would be seen around the world (and I would’ve ironed them if I had have known).

Going global

Going viral is a strange thing. The phone is hopping with notifications – DMs, PMs and emails all overflowing with media looking for interviews. People were offering me TV appearances, asking me to be on documentaries and reality TV shows.

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It was all very sudden and intense. I was asked to sign contracts I didn’t understand and discovered that organisations were taking my pictures and using them without asking or crediting me.

There’s not really any support for people who have gone viral – you just have to muddle along. I was shooing children out of the kitchen minutes before going live on Sky News, mouthing words to my son who lost his shoe while talking live on radio, and on one TV appearance – pretending to be happy and full of joy when I had a splitting headache and felt faint.

But on the whole, it has all been a lot of fun. The most incredible and bizarre January of my life to date.

Feeling the love

“Going to your Instagram and looking to see what you’re wearing is the first thing I do when I wake up.”

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that this month… Wordle and I seem to have been a mainstay of many of my followers’ January mornings.

I heard that if you do something for a month you become a habit. That’s what I am now. I’m a habit other people have developed.

It feels weird to be a habit, and each day when I read all the lovely comments, I feel a big sense of responsibility to make sure that my next outfit is as good as or better than the day before.

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It’s just that I don’t want to let anyone down. The joy of my day is that moment when someone says: “This is the best one yet.” If it’s someone’s favourite, then that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. My work is done.


As articles about me began to appear in the local and international press, I started to notice the same comment being posted under them. “She must have a lot of time on her hands.” The rage I felt when I read this comment was visceral. My first holiday in two years, after working seven days a week, 12 hours a day and I take a break and get told I have too much time on my hands.

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I’m a lone parent, so I don’t have any “free” time. I’m also the director of two companies. I’ve been working both unpaid as a lone parent and paid as a business owner – through this whole month. Plus I’ve been doing several interviews almost every day in January. And even if I did have a lot of time on my hands – why is that perceived as a bad thing?

As it was men making these comments, I pondered why I’ve never seen this comment directed at men who play – or watch – sports? I strongly suspect the comment is rooted in sexism and the idea that women, and especially mothers, should always be busy with the chores of the house and family, and shouldn’t take time for themselves.

The funny thing is I don’t spend any longer putting these outfits together than I do putting my usual clothing looks together. The only difference is the photos, and I often take photos of my daily outfits in everyday life, so even that isn’t necessarily taking up any more of my time than usual.

Being playful as adults

Part of why my object dress challenge has been so globally popular is, I think, because of how fun and playful it is. We don’t see many adults being playful in everyday life. It tends to be rather frowned upon.

Adulting is a kind of performative seriousness. Wearing dull colours comes with being an adult: we leave primary colours to children when we don our drab work attire as adults. It’s so noticeable in shops. I’m always drawn to the children’s section (and have been known to contact clothing companies to ask them if they would make a child’s dress in an adult’s size).

I reject utterly the notion that adults must dress in a sombre fashion. Clothing is an extension of our personality, it is an opportunity to tell the world who we are. I have had the immense privilege to be able to take a month to just be creative. It’s led me to wonder what other people would come up with if they didn’t have to worry about earning for a month (or longer).

My fashion challenge is an excellent example of why we should have a universal basic income. The joy of being able to delve into playfulness is denied to so many adults who are too busy surviving to have time to play.

I dream of a world where creativity is honoured and appreciated as an integral part of the human experience, child or adult.

Taryn de Vere is a journalist, artist and businesswoman. She has been running the #ObjectDressChallenge on her Instagram account throughout January.


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