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.
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.
(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.