Myth: Style is irrelevant during a crisis.
Truth: Style is very relevant during a crisis.
Since the corona crisis started, there are people who have bragged about they spend their days in pajamas and don’t bother with clothes. I can’t really blame them. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable? But many of us are going out even just for groceries so we have to get dressed.
From me, you get the truth.
A short while back, I decided to do a little experiment. I borrowed pajama pants and a hoodie sweatshirt from my husband and I put on an old skirt. My plan was to spend the day in that pajama getup and go out on errands in it. Well, I did go out on errands at three different stores. Some stores were more crowded than others (who says people aren’t going out?). I survived. But not for long.
Here are my observations…
First, grocery stores and drugstores are not social hotspots even under normal circumstances. We don’t go to these places to see or be seen. Even if we run into someone we know, we’re not likely to take that much time to schmooze- we have to get our things and go home. And even I rarely pay attention to what people are wearing unless I have a reason for it (as I did that day). Now, with the corona crisis, we take even less time. No one looked twice at me in my pajama getup and I wasn’t surprised. If I had been wearing it at an event, I really would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb.
Second, as expected, no one recognized me. I wasn’t wearing any of my usual “Meira” clothing items. I had even put my hair under a beret and then pulled the hood of my hoodie over that. In one of the stores, there are employees who usually recognize me and say hello, but on this day, while they were polite as usual, they didn’t say hello to me.
Third, I don’t usually pay attention to what others are wearing unless I have a reason to do so. In this case, I was noticing. People in the stores were all wearing real clothes. Some were dressed more casually than others but there were no glaring style mistakes. Some of the women were wearing clothes that would look fine in any work environment, complete with shaytls (and nice ones at that). I was the only person there in any kind of pajama getup. Again, these were grocery stores and drugstores where most people don’t notice anyway, but there it is.
Fourth, it made a difference for me. At home, in that pajama getup, I felt tired and I even waddled a bit instead of walking with my usual gait. There’s nothing wrong with a waddle if that’s your usual gait, but I only walk that way if I’m feeling tired or sick. When I walked to and from the stores, I was able to walk at my usual brisk pace, but it took a lot more effort and it left me winded when I got home.
I had planned to spend the day in that pajama getup, but after my third errand, I had had enough. I changed into real clothes. I had a similar physical comfort level even in those fitted clothes but psychologically, I felt so much better. I took a walk and even with the mask on, I was able to walk at my usual brisk pace with much less effort.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. There’s an organization called Look Good, Feel Better that gives makeovers to cancer patients and survivors. That name isn’t a misnomer; most people do feel better when they wear real clothes and groom themselves nicely. I myself also find that getting creative with my clothes and putting together “new” outfits has helped me cope with today’s crises and others.
Is style relevant during a crisis? Absolutely yes. And it applies even if you’re staying home; my pajama getup had me tired and waddling even just at home. So don’t discount it as a coping mechanism during these times.