The pandemic has put fashion on the back burner. Well, I don’t even know if it’s on the stove at the moment. I was walking down normally busy 5th Avenue in the middle of the workday last week and the streets more closely resembled a holiday weekend. It was sad to see my normally hustling and bustling city so quiet. Although, getting a subway seat without a problem was a nice perk. Everyone is home working away on their laptops in what now passes for workwear, i.e. whatever the heck you want. We’re now so far into this new way of life, it’s starting to feel strangely normal that our commutes have shortened to just a few short steps from one room to another. My biggest source of traffic is now if one of my cats decides to jump out in front of me while walking from my kitchen to my office. Nobody and nothing is holding us accountable for how we present ourselves. It’s freeing and, well, sort of depressing.
The idea that when we look better we do better has long been established. We know this. We know the difference we feel when we try, even a little bit. Two weeks ago, when I went to the hospital to be there when my husband had a procedure, my husband acknowledged how nice I looked for sitting in a waiting room all day. I told him, I would be interacting with many doctors and other hospital professionals over a serious matter and how people interact with you differently when you present yourself accordingly. I didn’t get gussied up, and despite my absolute exhaustion by the week we were having, I still managed to put some makeup on, pulled my dirty hair back in a presentable manner, layered on a sweater over a button-down shirt (that was more because the hospital was so darn hot, layering was important), a pair of jeans and slip-on sneakers. In no way was it an outfit for meeting the Queen, but it was polished and presentable for the day and it not only made a difference in how I would be perceived, but it also made a difference in how I felt.
Now contrast that with another example of a bad habit I got into. It would go something like this: get out of bed, roll into my office, still in my pajamas, answer emails, get lost in some work, and go to the gym around lunchtime. Come home, eat lunch, go back to work, and stay in my workout clothes until around 5 pm, shower, get into pajamas, because what is the point of putting clothes on if I am only going to put pajamas on around 7 pm? This routine lasted a week or so until I absolutely couldn’t stand myself. Pajamas, workout clothes, pajamas, repeat. I had to make a change.
We’re starting to run on fumes with this new way of living and so many of us are just all out of #%$!’s to give when it comes to getting dressed. Is the time of sensible joggers with a cute top long in your rearview window with your new standard being whether or not something is clean?
Now if you think I am going to come down hard on you by advising you to put in a little more effort, how a little makeup goes a long way, or to try harder, I’m not, because the truth is there is no simplified answer that works for everyone and the only reason to try for more beyond what you have been doing is that it fits into your truth of who you want to be.
How Your Engage with Yourself is How You Engage with the World
This sentence came to me this morning and I did a quick Google search to make sure I didn’t get it from someone else because it just came to me like a bolt of lightning while I working on this post. I want you to keep this saying in mind the next time you put something on that doesn’t feel like your truth, doesn’t feel good, or like the person you envision being. You can apply it to anything, not just your clothing. How we engage with aspects of ourselves is representative of how we engage with the world. So while there is no perfect formula for what someone should wear when working from home, how you engage with yourself in what you put on is crucial. What is true for you may not be true for another. What is true for you, and what are you doing to ensure you are achieving it? What doesn’t feel right or good? What can you change, how can you change it?
Next, build some structure around this to start building the habit. Maybe, it’s not allowing yourself in front of your computer until you have showered, or getting rid of fall back casual clothing that doesn’t make you feel good but are so easy to throw on. What is your truth about your style and what can you put in place to hit that standard so that how you engage yourself is how you want to engage with the world.
Casual home looks that don’t take a lot of effort but make a big impact
Before I get into the looks, these are just some ideas that are deceptively simple, meaning they look like they took effort but actually don’t. There is no right way to navigate this so if these looks don’t resonate, craft what does.
Outfit #1- Upgrade what you’ve been doing all along
In this first look, I am styling a basic sweatshirt from Boden and joggers. The sweatshirt has a panel that creates the appearance of a shirt underneath it and adds a look of polish while still being comfortable. For a pop of color, I added these cute, red UGG slip-on loafer sneakers. This outfit is literally a sweatshirt and joggers, probably something you have been wearing for months.
Outfit #2- Try a novelty basic
Next up, a sweater and a pair of jeans. To give the sweater a finish, I chose this standalone novelty basic style from Madewell that can stand alone and look finished without fuss. I styled with a comfortable pair of straight leg jeans and Birdie’s loafers in blush.
Outfit #3- Play with color
Playing with color when wearing basics is like a magic trick. It looks complicated but when you break the pieces down they’re actually quite basic. I gave you some pretty comprehensive tips on combining color which you can read here. I styled this striped Breton from J. Crew with a pair of easy paper bag pants from Madewell in rust and finished the look with a teal cardigan and yellow Rothys.
Outfit #4- Try new Casual Shapes
While this is a fun way to play with color using my classic Base, Accent, Pop approach, seeing that we already covered color in the last look, I am going to focus on these fun knit culottes. Maybe it is time to just change things up slightly that will make you feel better or different. I styled this pair of culottes from Cos with a bright yellow hoodie and teal flats from Allbirds.
Outfit #5- If you are going to wear workout clothes all day, at least like them
I am certainly not the one who is going to tell you to stop wearing your workout clothes all day, unless it makes you feel schleppy, to which I then ask, why aren’t you changing the plan? But if you’re locked in with workout clothes and that works for you but you’re not enthused about the types of workout clothes you are wearing, make a change. Look, you’ve already established that this is your go-to look for being at home, it’s not like it would be money wasted.
I styled this look with a Sweaty Betty funnel neck sweatshirt and leggings in burgundy. I added this rose-colored sports bra and blush tie-dye tank from Old Navy and finished the look with pink sneakers from Nike.
I hope you take this advice beyond the pandemic and keep in mind how you are engaging with yourself and choosing what represents that in what you wear.