pandemic dressing

The pandemic has changed the way I dress, and I don’t think I’m ready to change back

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Last month I bought a pair of boots so obnoxiously ugly that every time I wear them I feel like I should be apologising to passers-by for the assault on their eyeballs.

The style is actually quite fashionable right now (Or, at least, it is if my Instagram feed is to be believed…), but I’ve never been one to care much about being “on trend”, and there’s no getting away from the fact that these boots make me look like a golf-club – just all feet, and then a stick of a body – so, yeah, if anyone was wondering why I don’t often write about fashion any more, wonder no more.

Ugly or not, though, those boots are perfect for all of those muddy winter walks which are literally the only thing we’re allowed to do outside our own homes right now, and these days I am ALL about the practicality. Yes, me: the woman who once swore that if it couldn’t be done in high heels then, why, she just wouldn’t bother doing it, thanks very much. The woman whose blog tagline used to read, ”Never knowingly under-dressed.” How the times have changed.

So far, so totally non-controversial, though. I mean, the times have changed for ALL of us, and I know I’m not the only one who’s spent most of the pandemic in sweatpants or jeans – and occasionally in pyjamas, if we’re being totally honest. Sure, there were a few weeks back in the summer when dresses started to seem like an option again, but then autumn hit, along with another lockdown, and it was right back to the kind of clothes that I could comfortably sleep in if I really wanted to: and, let’s face it, I really DO.

Amber wearing Daisy London jewellery

(My jewellery is by Daisy London, and I’m wearing the Isla Fossil Charm Necklace and Rose Quartz Healing Necklace)

Here’s the thing, though: that kind of lazy dressing might fly in a pandemic, where everyone’s stuck at home all day, with no one to care what they look like: but, earlier this week, someone asked me what kind of outfit I was looking forward to wearing once all of this is over, and I thought long and hard before realising that, honestly? There isn’t one.

There’s nothing I’m excited to wear that I don’t already wear. I’m not looking forward to getting dressed up, or digging out some of the fancier clothes that have been languishing in the closet for God knows how long now. I… think I might quite like jogging pants? In fact, it’s entirely possible that I might just keep on dressing like this forever. <sharp intake of breath>

Now, on a scale of 1 to Past Me, this admission is OFF THE CHARTS, basically. Past Me, after all, had an entire blog dedicated to high heels, and she used it to publish articles complaining that there just weren’t enough opportunities to get really dressed up any more. Past Me would happily wear a prom dress just to walk the dog, and Past Me would probably be wearing her best clothes around the house right now, purely because she wanted to, and she could.

Current Me, however, doesn’t relate to any of that at all. Like, the fact that there are people in the world who are voluntarily wearing tights – TIGHTS! – is almost more than I can cope with. And, I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I’ve lost interest in shopping (I WISH), or that I just don’t care any more – far from it, in fact. I still spend far too much time thinking about clothes – and far too much money on buying them. It’s just the type of clothes that’s changed. Skinny jeans, for instance, have started to feel like denim leg prisons. I don’t remember the last time I wore a watch: or needed one. Workout clothes are no longer just for working out as far as I’m concerned: they’re for LIFE, and I will fight you on this.

gold chain necklace

(Wearing the Estée Lalonde Intention Chain Necklace and H&M cardigan)

I should probably add here that it’s not just lockdown life that’s changed the way I dress: by the time the pandemic started, parenthood had already taken its toll on my personal style by forcing me to recognise that when you spend most of your time crawling around on the floor with a toddler, prom dresses and high heels just ain’t the one. While Max’s arrival might have heralded the start of this transformation, though, I’d always assumed the change was a temporary one, and that once he started nursery and I had a bit more time again, I’d most likely revert back to my old ways.

Spending the last 12 months either at home, or outdoors in all kinds of temperatures, however, has made me wonder if I’ll ever want to go back, or whether this experience has changed the way we all look at fashion for good.

From what I can tell, there seem to be two main schools of thought on this: on the one hand, you have the people who think these lockdown days will lead to a new “Roaring Twenties”, with people desperate to embrace glamour and frivolity again, in reaction to the straightened times we’ve been living through. (I’ve even heard talk of high heels coming back into fashion again: imagine!)

On the other hand, though, you have people who, like me, think they might just carry on exactly as they are: buying less, shopping differently, and with the focus firmly on comfort, rather than fashion.

Already we’re starting to see slower fashion cycles, with some of the big fashion houses reducing the number of collections they’ve released over the past year, and fast-fashion brands like Primark announcing that they’ll be selling off last summer’s stock when they finally re-open after lockdown. Just like the Real World, the fashion world is changing: but will it be a permanent change, I wonder, or is it just a matter of time before we’re all back in our glad rags and clamouring for more?

For me, although I’m desperate to finally exit lockdown, I have to admit that I’m not desperate to do it in high heels and a fancy dress. I’m in no rush to get out of my joggers: but, at the same time, I’m not planning on hanging up my stilettos just yet either – because, despite the obvious hyperbole in the title of this post, I know that nothing lasts forever – especially when it comes to fashion – and I guess there may well come a time when I once again start harassing my engaged friends to hurry up and plan that wedding already, just so I can have an excuse to dress up. I just can’t really imagine it right now, is all.

Which side are you on?

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books by Amber Eve
  • Miss Kitty


    I’m loving all the comfy clothes right now, for every day use. But I am also looking forward to having an excuse to dress up again occasionally, mainly because it would mean that the world was coming back to some kind of normality! I need to chuck out all the makeup I have barely worn during Covid and buy new makeup, and see if I actually remember how to still use it ????

    March 3, 2021
    • Karlie


      I had the same realization about my makeup last week. Nothing is wearable anymore, it’s all extremely out of date and I don’t know if I even want to replace it. It may be just the basics going forward.

      March 4, 2021
  • Fi


    I have worn tights recently, but only because I walk to work and tights dry faster than jeans/trousers when it’s raining. On dry days though I am living in stretchy jeans or trousers and I have worn leggings more this year than ever in my life before. I can no longer walk in a stiletto heel (and you know I used to be like you with heels) and can only just about manage a block heeled boot if the heel isn’t too high and I don’t have to walk too far. My shoe-drobe is now pretty much all flats and trainers. x

    March 4, 2021
  • Dee


    I tried on some of my high heels for a laugh the other night. My feet were NOT having it – for the last year I’ve only worn running shoes for my daily run and non-running trainers to go to the supermarket, and that is it! Heels feel so strange and uncomfortable now!

    My cousin’s wedding is set for September (assuming the England roadmap out of lockdown goes as currently scheduled) and I’m actually quite anxious about trying to put an outfit together! I’m really out of practice…

    March 4, 2021
  • Nic


    I recently cleaned out my closet and almost donated like 90% of my wardrobe before I realized that the reason I hadn’t worn any of the items in so long was because I haven’t done anything “fancier” than grocery shopping in over a year. My husband is even worse…he literally has not worn jeans since last March! Just the same few pairs of sweatpants and tee shirts on rotation.

    March 4, 2021
  • D.


    I just came from a store that I LOVE, where I had found the perfect outfit- – and I left empty handed because I just can’t imagine a life where I would need it. Also, thanks to all the Black Lives Matter Protests, I’m sitting outside a custom T-shirt shop about to stock my Summer wardrobe with protest-wear! I seriously need counseling!! Aauuugh! Which way do I go?

    March 5, 2021
  • Flor


    You made me think about something I’ve been avoiding, hahaha 😛 I still dress up at home, but I must confess I share the same experience when it comes to shoes. I’m not wearing heels anymore; maybe one day if I have to go out for some fancy dinner I will… but for the time being, I’d rather wear sneakers or platforms, basically anything that feels comfortable and makes me feel steady on my feet.

    To me lockdown finally opened my eyes to how much we used to dress up for others. I have heard countless friends tell me they “forgot” shaving, or that they just can’t wear foundation anymore because it feels uncomfortable. I can totally relate on this note!

    Flor |

    March 6, 2021
  • May


    I think post-lockdown trends will be absolutely glamorous, fantabulous and extremely done up as a reaction to sweatpants-maggedon, but at the same time I think people’s buying habits will be vastly different than they used to and we’ll probably see less everyday people obsessed with following the latest trends. So we’ll be seeing more adverts marketing high heels and sparkles for everyday, but less people actually dressing like that (compared to other years)

    March 12, 2021
  • Laurie Gardner


    I have been working throughout the pandemic. I would hardly call what I do essential but it’s not about me, and I do a very physical job so no prom dresses and heels but I have been and am still dressing up as much as I always did. I hope it does end and everyone finds a happy balance, a personal style that reflects them in the present. ????
    Very well written Amber.

    April 11, 2021
  • dublinerInDeutschland


    Yeah I don’t wear my skinny jeans anymore – my clothes have gotten a lot more comfort focused than pre pandemic. Overall a much more casual look

    July 30, 2021
  • Selina


    I’m of the rare situation that I dress exactly the same as always. Dresses, ankle boots, patterned trousers and the usual tops plus makeup as usual. I never worked from home and now thankfully not in a job that requires uniform for the past couple of years. Lockdown or working has never made a difference in that respect and I don’t wear heels but if I did, I’d still wear them. When I go out, I get dressed (some people think I’m overdressed) and that’s it really. I also like that I look more extravagant and usually, other people do too. Today I wore a party dress to work just because. I can’t see myself changing anytime soon and I hope not. Love to dress up and find it comfortable when I do

    January 19, 2022