Sure, we may not be seeing a lot of people right now. So why not be comfortable? I think most of us have someone or some people living with us right now. And how we dress says something to them as well.
By Nicole Tittmann
At the beginning of the quarantine, not getting dressed up every day was a bit of a relief. Living in sweats, baking bread, binging Netflix. After a while, even pajamas at night felt like a little much. My sweats were just as comfortable, after all. And what’s with all the showers? I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that your body starts to clean itself after a while. I mean, I don’t want to get all caught up in appearances.
All of this was fine until I noticed my family keeping their distance from me. My children would grimace every time I closed in for a hug. After, they would exhale loudly, as if they had been holding their breath. Was it possible my body was NOT self-cleaning? I decided to take a good, hard look in the mirror. What I saw reflected back was not the fabulous, fit and fun mom I imagined. Instead, it was a meth addict psycho mom staring at me, with hair resembling the bride of Frankenstein. And it all started with sweatpants.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sweatpants. They are so comfortable and cozy! But it does feel like all the fashion brands are trying to make sweats the hot item right now. Sweats.
It doesn’t help that one of the top selling clothing items are sweatpants. I’m someone who loves to scroll fashion websites, and right now, they are all pushing sweats. Monochromatic sweats worn by amazing looking stick figure twenty-year-olds, who I’m pretty sure have not spent one too many nights eating all the bread in the house and binging on The Crown (someone you don’t know). They’re literally everywhere. And there’s no mystery why they are all super baggy.
No, I’m not crazy. I may look it from time to time, but I know that “the sweats made me do it” is not a logical defense. But it is a slippery slope. And studies have found that not only do people treat you differently based on how you dress, but we behave differently as well. When we take pride in our appearance, we are more creative, focused and driven. We take our work more seriously and speak more authoritatively. When we dress up, we perform better.
Back in the good old days before masks and social distancing, we took time to pick out our clothes, do our hair, and put on makeup. We did those things not because it was JUST SO FUN (otherwise there would be more stories about lipstick application than sourdough); we took care because we were trying to communicate something about ourselves, and how we expected to be treated. So what are we saying now that we are all living in sweats?
Sure, we may not be seeing a lot of people right now. So why not be comfortable? Well, remember those people I mentioned in the beginning? My family? I think most of us have someone or some people living with us right now. And how we dress says something to them as well.
Maybe it’s your spouse who has to see (and smell) you everyday. Maybe he’s a really nice guy like my guy, and he would never actually comment on your ensemble. But maybe he would actually like to see you look nice when he gets home. Our appearance is more about something we can do for others, rather than for ourselves. I know, in my marriage, a little bit of lipstick is always a shocker to my dh. And, if I manage to wear something other than the workout clothes that I never actually worked out in, I’m Cinderella in his eyes, post-fairy godmother.
Maybe you are like me, and you still have kids in the house. They are with us every day, in some cases all day. They see how seriously we take our responsibilities in the home. Pre-Covid, we had a special tradition on the day after Christmas called Pajama Day. It was fun to hang out in loungewear all day, because we did it so rarely. Now, it’s just Tuesday. I want my kids to take their work seriously, and to know I take being their mom seriously. We are modeling beauty for our daughters, and if we don’t give them a sense that we know or care about our appearance, there is always someone on Instagram who will. Probably one of the aforementioned stick figures, currently trying to make bras as outerwear happen.
So, what steps can we take to stay comfortable, but maybe make ourselves a little more put together? A little bit of makeup doesn’t take too long. The internet is filled with makeup artists giving you their version of the five or ten minute makeup lesson. The first time I put on lipstick again after a month of quarantining, my husband literally did a double take. I’m old enough to realize lipstick did not suddenly make him confuse me with Giselle, but it did get my husband to look at me with a bit more admiration. My kids even asked if the quarantine was over (sadly, no).
What about jeans and a clean T-shirt? Or a button down? Sweater, jeans and sneakers are a put together look that is still highly functional, and mostly comfortable. True, you won’t be confusing it with your PJs anytime soon, but that isn’t the worst thing.
Maybe just blow dry your hair again. Put on some jewelry. Wear sneakers instead of slippers. Do one little thing that feels normal again. And maybe, after a while, we can bring back enough of these old routines and give our sweats a break.
Nicole Tittmann is a fashion stylist and mother of six. She works with clients locally in Southern California, as well as virtually across the country. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org