Sustainable, ethical, slow | Issue 16 | 2019
Hot pink—or only and forever black? Bare feet or Ugg boots? Make-up or barefaced cheek? This lockdown thread dates back to April and May 2020.
The freedom to move gives me freedom to think. I’m at my best in my hot pink Zoot top and black running shorts, barefoot, hair piled on top of my head. I can channel my thoughts into something tight and focused or allow my mind to float free into the world of ideas. It makes me feel strong. The colours I wear are a direct reflection of my mood. Or maybe they influence it? Hot pink—powerful and vibrant—is my colour of choice, but recent weeks have been tough and I’ve reached for navy blue—numb and quiet—too often.
Some days, I am in full lockdown regalia. Make-up, high-waisted satin trousers (which double as travel wear and pajamas) and a knit sweater. Other days are for wide-legged trousers and any white t-shirt on the top of the pile. Whatever the day, a touch of red lipstick gives the impression of a finished outfit and gives me—and everyone I catch on video—a mood lift.
My lockdown wardrobe is simple, comfortable and endlessly repetitive. Black leggings, tank top, light sweatshirt, alternating leggings with jeans to remind me not to get too comfortable around the waist. Rigorously barefoot, hence happy feet.
My suits and heels now lay gathering dust. Sad. But every single day I am now wearing the comfiest shoes ever made—my trusty Ugg boots. We are entering winter in the Southern Hemisphere and my Ugg boots are heaven for cold toes.
I live in Texas, so even when I am inside and away from the heat, I imagine I am hot. So I dress as though I’m trying to stay cool in summer. My quarantine wardrobe consists of a solid men’s ribbed tank top—the kind you buy in a pack of three—paired with my favorite baggy jeans, with the bottom of the legs cut off. There’s something about wearing denim that makes me feel like I made a bit of an effort, especially because I still wear my big hoop earrings. (I’m holding strong on boycotting make-up during the quarantine. My face doesn’t know what’s going on!)
I have been taking a yin and yang approach. When I am feeling strong and optimistic, I go casual, playful. When I am feeling weary, I put on a power blazer, and at least once I have assembled a full-on business suit. Whatever the day, I like to accessorize with a scarf. It completes the look but more importantly provides a sense of coziness—this is Canada after all!
Time has stood still for me. Last Christmas I was given a vintage watch that had been my grandfather’s. It has a self-winding feature—and this has been frozen in time since the last day I wore it into the office. I have found other ways of marking time. Styling hair has gone out the window, so most days it’s in a ponytail by 1pm. At 5:30, I shift from ‘work’ to ‘non-work’ and change into workout clothes before heading out the door for a walk. It’s summer weather here, so I’m living in linen pants—most of which have an elastic waist.
I have invested in Positive Pants. These are great. They are locally made, come in the most gorgeous, colourful designs and make me feel a little bit better in all this uncertainty. I’m not exactly looking forward to going back to buttons and zips.
I have developed a passion for my fleece-lined reading socks—a present which had until recently languished in the back of my drawers and which, in another world, would have found their way to the charity shop. Today, when I discovered I had a Zoom session, I used a dry shampoo that had (rather like the socks) been sitting in my bathroom cabinet for years.
Every day, I wear an item from my mother’s costume jewelry collection—which I inherited and never thought to actually wear.
My wardrobe consists of leggings and t-shirts, not least because I can often be seen doing the jive or whatever dance moves take my fancy in my makeshift dance studio—the space from my working desk to my full-length mirror.
Fifty years ago, at-home workwear could look like a house dress and an apron. The more affluent homes allowed men to wear short sleeves and trousers; women wore day dresses and heels. When going out, everyone wore a hat and gloves. Now, in 2020, we are asked to don face masks and gloves along with our slacks, yoga pants, and t-shirts.
I spend at least an hour getting ready for the day. I shower, put on my make-up, dress my hair and put on clean-cut, professional attire every day, even at the weekends. I go to meetings, I visit with friends and family, I go to church—I am still seen in public, even if only online.
I am particularly enjoying today’s outfit— buff loafers, a pair of side-zip navy Capris, a cornflower-blue silk blouse with bouffant sleeves, and rose gold earrings and a multi-strand of rose gold and pearl necklaces. If I have to go out, I have a pink floral scarf that I can fashion into a hajib and face mask.
Some might say I am overdressed. But I like the message I am sending. I want to be taken seriously. I want to be treated like a professional. At heart, I want to be accepted as I am. I agree with Oscar Wilde, ‘you can never be overdressed or overeducated.’
I look like a grizzled bag lady and am quite enjoying it. I may never go back…
I now only wear black. This was initially unintentional but I think I am going to make it ‘a thing’. It has got to the point where my many pairs of black leggings, which I wear in rotation, are categorised. I have some boa constrictor leggings to wear on running days and some more elasticated ones for day to day, which I wear with an old Procul Harum t-shirt that I found in a drawer at my parents’ house. At the start of lockdown, I lost it one evening and purchased a t-shirt from Amazon with an image of a wolf howling at the moon. I sometimes wear this as a dress in the evening.
I take a layered approach—comfort and practicality being the essence of each layer.
Outer layer 1: comfy hoodie with kangaroo pouch for maximum slouch potential.
Outer layer 2: Male designer t-shirt (borrowed): lightweight and surprisingly flattering despite the boy-cut.
Lower layer: Tracksuit pants, adjustable length. Can be pulled down to hug the ankles or up to flirtatiously reveal pale and knobbly knees.
A recent addition is to keep the sunglasses on my head indoors, to keep my frenzied fringe from interfering with my work. I feel this composite approach feeds into the Zeitgeist.
Contrary to my work attire, I’ve generally forsaken black. Spring has resulted in my wearing a medley of colour—anyone who sees me needs to be wearing sunglasses, too. When I say ‘medley’, I think I mean explosion… I’m colour bombing myself into each and every day.
Like Gabby, I am also in black (but no surprises there!) Plus hoodie, exactly as described by Sarah—kangaroo pouch a must. Mine is also borrowed (for extra coverage). Leggings, yes, but a little less racy than Sarah’s: mine only show a touch of white ankle. I have been known to apply full make-up, wedges, and jeans with a proper waistband for the occasional Zoom drinks night ‘out’.
I started out by wearing any old mis-matched gym gear on the basis that who cared (this was pre-Zoom) and after a week hated it. I then went online to a company that donates ten per cent of their sales to the NHS and invested in a smart pair of leggings (navy blue), teamed it with a well-loved and superbly made hoodie (navy blue) and immediately felt better. I haven’t looked back since. That being said, I still don’t wear make-up (unless I am doing a quarantini with friends).
© Norton Rose Fulbright LLP 2020