A few days after my self-imposed social distancing, I tweeted "Dress up for men <Dress up for other women <Dress up for your dog". I wore a pair of black Nike leggings with my favorite Isabel Marant purple sweatshirt and had forgotten to put on earrings, which I usually never forget. I thought about what I would wear if the only people I would see for the foreseeable future were my friend, my dog (who certainly counts as one person) and my colleagues – but only from the shoulders, via Google Hangouts .
While working from home was often nothing new to me, the rest of my calendar was boring, which was new. Reservations for dinner at this new restaurant in Silverlake? Canceled before I could do it because of the closure of the LA restaurant. This meditation course I wanted to take on Thursday evening? Postponed. The party I wanted to throw on Saturday? Delayed. By the way, I had bought a great ROTATE look for this bash. A pink crushed velvet mini dress with a twiggy-like ruffle on the neck and sleeves that I wanted to wear with white majorette boots. The dress hangs in my closet with the label for now. Every time I see it hanging there, I miss my friends. I wonder what they would have worn to the party. I wonder if we're okay.
Clothing is so often a reminder of ourselves: that we are worthy of little joys and that we know exactly who we are – even when there is nobody else to prove it to us.
The fashion world, like the whole world, was derailed by the corona virus. LVMH discontinues perfume production or produces extremely inconspicuous but urgently needed hand disinfectants. The Met Gala is (finally) postponed. Retail stores are closing their doors as we are all waiting for the crisis. And on a micro scale, many of us wonder what role fashion and style play in their lives if they only choose life and death if they go to a grocery store. We wonder what role fashion and style play in our lives when there is simply nothing to do or people to see.
I always looked forward to approaching my closet every morning, ready to imagine the day as a specific version of myself. A blazer with strong shoulders that exudes strength in an important meeting; a blue silk dress from the swimming pool to feel alive in my body on a summer night downtown. But my enthusiasm for this ritual has waned over the past few days. How do we get dressed when there's no one left to wear? Can clothing still bring us joy and self-expression when we are all alone in our homes? Are you losing power without a witness?
I asked friends who are socially distant about getting ready in the morning. My friend Bobby Solomon, a creative director, said he was still doing his nursing ritual and dressed as he normally would to maintain a sense of normalcy. "Surprisingly, that motivated me to finish the whole nine meters, Cologne and everything," he tweeted me. "I feel most like when I am fully prepared, and it confirms the feeling that I do this for myself every day, not for others."
Other people told me they value comfort: "sweat and makeup free" and "solid stream of sport". A writer, Obehi Janice, proclaimed overalls for her new isolation uniform. I've seen and heard more than a few people who admit that despite the precarious economy, they're still shopping online and buying clothes for a post-pandemic future where we have places and occasions to wear them.
However, my friend Kerin Rose Gold's attitude was unique. Sure, she is a designer herself and has a lot of verve. When she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 16, she spent a lot of time in doctor's offices and felt uncomfortable. Still, she wrote to me: "I always dressed and sometimes wore a tiara, and that made a bad situation a little bit better. As an adult, I still adopt the concept of getting dressed myself." I usually work alone in my studio and I'm a pretty big homebody. That doesn't stop me from wearing sequin pants and a bright neon yellow jacket most days, even if they don't make it on Instagram. "
Clothing is a performance, an external symbol, a message to the world. But clothing reminds us just as often that we are worth little joys and that we know exactly who we are – even when no one else is there to calm us down.
Today I woke up, put on an acid green sweater and gold geometric hoop earrings, painted a line of cat eye liner over my eyelids, and faced another uncertain day with a little more determination. It turned out that Kerin was right. Dress for men <dress for other women <dress for your dog <dress for yourself.
Image sources: Getty / Sol Bela and Getty / Hanna Lassen