If you’d told me in the beginning of 2020 that by year’s end my daily wardrobe would consist primarily of pajama bottoms, t-shirts, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg masks, I would have laughed in your face. (And I would have been allowed to laugh in your face without you yelling at me for standing too close to you while spreading my laughter germs.)
But now that I have dressed like it’s very casual Friday every day of the week for 298 days (but who’s counting?), it doesn’t seem at all weird to me to show up on Zoom meetings in what I slept in and a scarf.
For the past 26 years, I’ve been a self-employed keynote speaker, stand-up comic, comedy writer, and teacher. One of my favorite things about my jobs is that I basically had to wear different outfits for each of them, which fed into my second-hand clothing addiction. My closet is filled with everything from professional skirts and jackets to a sexy Bernie Sanders costume I wore once for a Halloween comedy show.
But on March 15th, most of my work disappeared. People don’t gather together in hotel rooms or classrooms or bars where I have made my livelihood – at least not in my town and state where we take this pandemic seriously. The little work I have had has been online and as a result, I’ve gotten very used to dressing for comfort and putting little to no effort into my wardrobe.
I’ve only worn two different pairs of shoes since March 14 – sneakers that I walk the dogs and get groceries in and garden shoes for digging up shrubs in my yard (which serves as both my workout and a way to make distract me from tracking down a “Proud Boy” and kicking him in the nuts).
My bras whine as I walk past the bureau drawer with my boobs flapping under my t-shirt and hoodie. I only put one on to exercise because I work out on a mini-trampoline and don’t want to bruise my chin (with my boobs). At this point, I don’t even lint roll the dog hair off my clothes anymore!
Before I go further, I want to give a shout out to all those people who do go out into the world every day during this pandemic – the essential workers who put their lives on the line to provide us with health care and groceries and whatever it is that we just ordered from Etsy.
Not only are most of them underpaid and overworked, they’re also not allowed to show up to work in a Winnie the Pooh onesie and bunny slippers like those of us who have become unemployed or are working from home.
Despite the fact that this pandemic seems never-ending, I’m optimistic enough to think that sometime soon we’ll all be vaccinated and we’ll all get to show up at our jobs in the “real world” once again. And that kind of freaks me out. Am I even capable of walking in heels at this point? Won’t non-stretchy pants strangle my lower intestines? How will I decide what to wear when I haven’t cared for such a long time? And where is the damned lint roller?
If these thoughts have run through your head too, I’ve come up with a plan to ease us all back into dressing for success or at least faking it, as we return to our “normal” lives. Here’s what I’m thinking:
MONDAY: Do some stretches to warm up your back and legs (I recommend Downward Dog and Cat/Cow), and then put on a pair of pantyhose. (This may require shaving beforehand. My three-months’ of “stubble” is almost long enough to style at this point.) Getting your legs into hose may seem complicated and unfamiliar at this point, so take it slow and try not to throw out your back.
TUESDAY: Practice walking around the house in work shoes (whether those are heels or steel-toed boots or ballerina slippers). Chances are, if you’ve spent a lot of time barefoot in your house, your feet are now wider and will scream in pain at the idea of being crammed into footwear. Start with a few minutes at a time, but work up to wearing “outside” shoes for up to four hours.
WEDNESDAY: Choose an outfit that you’d normally wear on the job (including a bra and panties) and wear it all day, even if your schedule has nothing on it but three Zoom meetings and picking up a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. Who knows, if you’re single, you may meet a cute pharmacist. Or you may find yourself more attractive and go home and have your way with yourself.
THURSDAY: Okay, this one is tough, but if you usually wear a body-shaper like Spanx or my favorite knock-off, A Slight Tap on the Bottom, try to cram yourself into it again. It may feel like you’re trying to put fishnet stockings on an uncooperative octopus, but you’ve got to squeeze those rolls of pandemic fat in if you ever want your body to readjust to being “reshaped.” Maybe take your anti-anxiety meds first. Or maybe skip it and eat a bag of Swedish Fish and practice loving your body the way it is.
FRIDAY: Carry a purse around the house. You can transport your kids’ homework from the kitchen to their rooms or haul your lunch to the sofa – it doesn’t matter. It’s highly likely that the bent arm/extra weight on one side of your body routine you were accustomed to in your pre-COVID life will now feel weird and uncomfortable, so it’s best to start easing back into that before you have to do it for real.
SATURDAY: Wear your regular pandemic outfit (yay, sweatpants!) all day, but when the sun sets, dress up like you’re headed for a club or the opera or wherever you used to go when places were open and you could hang out with friends. A tiara is optional, but you’ve earned it.
SUNDAY: Rest. You’ve got a busy week ahead of you of fashion re-acclimation ahead of you.
I’m going to start testing out this plan next week and I’ll let you know how it goes. I just need to find my purse and limber up. Oh, and I need to pick up my anxiety meds too.