I sit here, writing to you, in a sloppy joe from 2010 (I’m a hoarder, leave me), no bra, dirty hair fashioned into a Pisa-like top-knot plumb only via a polka dot scrunchie, and some seriously questionable underpants. I have, however, in the same breath (and outfit), just purchased Christopher Esber’s Tailored Column Tie Skirt from My Chameleon, a Dion Lee Jumpsuit and the wintry update of my Bottega Veneta Blue Stretch Sandal – Bottega Veneta’s Textured-Leather Pumps in a delicious duck egg blue. Now aside from keeping the fashion economy alive and supporting local business, this story (sadly) isn’t about my gallant heroism. It’s about a tale much greater, much deeper, much more profound – the tale of my sad decline into slothdom while WFH.
Like any true extremist, I have two very polar sides. As my partner puts it, “you’re either a dirty nightie or the Met Gala,” which really just about sums it up. But even when dressed down (in public), I’m usually dressed up to some degree (by any normative standard anyway); Lycra with a fierce Anthony Nader blow-wave, jeans and white tee with a dramatic spider lash, sneakers and sweats with sharp cat-eye sunglasses, for example. To see the world through my exaggerated cat-eye lens is to see it glamorously – hair remains coiffed at any given moment, heels in a bag always at the ready. And while I truly relish those moments of fashion downtime (because, who doesn’t?) I do really just love getting dressed up.
But in a state of social distancing and self-isolation, the very crux of my melodramatic existence has been rocked. On my last Woolworth’s dash – a traumatic time for all – I was a sight for very sore eyes. A mismatched, manic, unsavory outfit not made for the great indoors (the toilet paper aisle), or anywhere beyond the boudoir for that matter. Which made me ponder. Am I losing my fashion identity? Am I becoming a kind of modern-day, millennial version of Bridget Jones and quickly spiraling into spinsterhood? (Heck, I’m not married either!)
Will I forget what Gucci is? The Row? Gasp – Bottega Veneta?
Or, is it a much-needed time out? A liberation of sorts. A higher power telling everyone, rather cruelly, to chill the f*ck out? You’re going too fast. You need to slow down.
With this not-so gentle reminder, I’ve been carefully, consciously trying not to lose my Met Gala-ness. While I am savoring my new, near full-time slothdom, it’s a slippery slope that old track pant and top-knot narrative. And if left too long – without a dash of glamour, a dollop of pizzazz – all of a sudden it’s 3am on Thursday and you haven’t had a shower and think a mule is a donkey and not the it-shoe of the season.
So to curb a full-blown decline, small but imperative measures are in place. My 3pm pick-up, for example, came not in the form of Haigh’s freckles (a GRAZIA office fave) but a fashion parade in front of the mirror where I tried on all the outfits I would be wearing to events (highly recommended). But, it was followed by a swift retreat into a camo Sportsgirl sweater so worn it’s as if the “wash” was deliberate and Qantas pajama bottoms (ironic, no?). I just feel so comfortable here, I thought. Your smooth, soft, supple bagginess just feels so conducive to the current Corona situation, both comforting and coddling.
But here, in the refuge of pajamas and sweats, lies a concern. Laughing at inappropriate yet anxiety-soothing Covid memes, chuckling to myself as I balance a life of broth and bottles of wine, trying to work out what I need right now, I do start to feel a loss of purpose. Clothes have always been part of our identity, whether we actively seek out fashion or not. As author Robin Givhan wrote in The Washington Post, “Fashion is a form of communication that is both intimate and aloof. Without ever uttering a word, you stand behind your message because you are, in fact, wearing it. Clothing is an eloquent form of communication for the inarticulate. It can also be used as a costume when one would prefer to make a show of taking action rather than rolling up one’s sleeves and getting on with it.”
It’s so very true, even the most tongue-tied can express themselves eloquently and boldly through dress, so when you eradicate personal style and replace it with pajamas you start to lose your purpose. You start to lose you. Which brings me back to my glorious, very fashion-y online purchases. They seem to be filling a void, plugging my fashionable purpose that has tentatively gone AWOL, giving me the style satisfaction – and distraction – I need right now. They are satiating my Met Gala sensibility while I work in my dirty nightie and offering a beacon of sartorial hope in the meantime.
But with self-isolation in full swing and long-haul hibernation on the horizon, where / when am I going to wear these fruitful fashion spoils?
To the kitchen, perhaps. To the balcony, where I retreat like a cat to catch a glimpse of the afternoon sun, savoring its warmth on my skin. Oh, outside world, you feel good. Or as my mother so graciously put it, with slippers. “Wear it at home with your slippers!”
Let’s face it, that Dion Lee jumpsuit ain’t going to look good with a pair of moccasins but we may have no other choice. So be it then, dear isolation: if we can’t leave the house, make the house our runway. If you feel like getting fancy, do, but the quarantine edition: Saint Laurent, slippers and sanitizer.
As for me, it’s about balancing the sloth and the drama queen and not losing my self-worth in the interim. I’m going to make all the necessary steps – however small they may be – to cling to my theatrical personal expression, but I’m also going to embrace my sloth style for the while. Enjoy it, in fact. I might even give my new Bottega’s a spin to boil water for the last bag of pasta I’ve got. Sloth-chic, no?