Fashion + The Global Crisis

Our relationship with fashion: before, during, and after a pandemic

Even in our wildest dreams, a global pandemic was not something most of us imagined happening, especially on this scale. But here we are, learning throughout this experience together. 

Our daily lives have been totally altered. We are disassociated from many things that we were accustomed to or even dependent on. With all of these changes, it’s a great time to think about what our routine means to us. Retrospectively thinking, how did our daily lives shape our identity? And how will we adapt to the changes we have been experiencing? 

The role of fashion in our daily lives

These thoughts can be applied to many things, from working habits, to social outings, communication habits, and daily routines in general. One thing that we can all relate to, is the daily task of getting dressed for the day. Fashion is a form of self-expression, but it is also a form of nonverbal communication. In other words, fashion communicates who we are to the people around us. But, when the world feels like it has been turned upside down, how is fashion being used in our life? What does this tell us about our relationship with fashion? What does fashion truly mean to us?

On a daily basis, are you getting dressed for yourself or for others? I think for most people this is a question that requires a lot of introspective thinking and analysis. The answer might not fall on either extreme, but rather, it lies within some combination of motives. You might wear what you want, but only if it isn’t too different from what your peers are wearing. But how often do you shy away from wearing something because you’re afraid you’ll stand out too much? Do you feel like your style accurately shows who you are?

Fashion can alter our emotions

It can be hard to separate societal standards of dress and your personal desires—what you really want to wear. Have you ever woken up in comfy pajamas wishing you could walk into the office without changing? You might entertain the idea for a moment, but then reality hits you. You’re aware that such an outfit won’t quite communicate a professional mindset to your coworkers. Fashion is often used to show unity in the workplace—and in society. 

On the other hand, the business casual ensemble that many people are clothed in for work, might also have a psychological impact. You might feel a sense of confidence and mental readiness for the work day. Changing into work clothes might be helpful in telling your brain to switch gears—it’s time to be productive. In this way, fashion can alter our emotions.

Pandemic Style

Now that working from home is a major trend, are you still getting dressed for work in the same way? If you are, is it because you are on a video call, and you want to communicate professionalism? Or maybe you’re still getting dressed for work for personal reasons.  Are you wearing the same types of clothing to create a sense of normalcy or to make yourself feel confident?  

Beyond just getting dressed for work, it is interesting to look at how our fashion habits have changed throughout this pandemic in general, and what we think about these changes.

Are you finding comfort in this solitude? Some of us might feel a great sense of relief in terms of getting ready. The idea of choosing an outfit to debut in public every single day had become a chore to some people. You might be someone who doesn’t mind falling into a rotation of sweatpants and T-shirts. The physical comfort of these soft fabrics can be mentally comforting as well.

What would I be wearing on a day like today?

Or maybe you are living vicariously through your future-self? Maybe you’re shopping for the outings and occasions you so desperately crave at the moment. You may have found yourself in the depths of your closet, acting as a stylist and choosing outfits for your future endeavors. During these weeks, have you put on an outfit to make yourself feel better? 

On one occasion, I found myself under the shell of my oversized leather bomber jacket. I might have been using this outwear as a weapon to combat against the mundanity of getting dressed during quarantine (I’d say it was a successful effort). 

I have also noticed myself assessing the weather and imagining what type of outfit I’d usually put on. On a chilly, rainy day during quarantine I might focus my energy on more indoor tasks—avoiding the bad weather, and therefore avoiding a weather ready outfit. But, on a typical day, bracing the outdoors might not be an option. So, I use this as a thinking prompt—what would I be wearing on a day like today?

I have been outside at some point pretty much every day since this started. I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors while still following stay at home orders. In doing so, I have noticed something particular about getting dressed to go outside. Spring is a temperamental time in terms of daily weather patterns. But lately, the changing weather doesn’t feel as inconvenient as it usually might. I can leave the house for a morning walk in one outfit—one that is ready for the chilly breeze, without having to prepare for a sudden change in weather. I am able to change into a new outfit if an afternoon heat wave decides to stop by. Not that these daily weather changes are a truly that challenging to navigate, but being home does allow you to spontaneously change into another outfit, and that can be pretty comforting. 

Fashion as a creative outlet

If you’re someone who uses fashion as a creative outlet—someone who pours their creativity into the clothing that adorns their body on a daily basis, you might be wondering “what now?” Where does that creativity go? As science has proven over and over, energy cannot be destroyed. Therefore, this creativity doesn’t just vanish into thin air. Maybe the creative energy that was so used to the medium of fabric, has now found its way to another form of art. You might be exploring other ways to fulfill your creative mind—writing, painting, drawing, etc. And if you haven’t found a new creative outlet, I suggest trying on outfits like I mentioned before.

The a ftermath

At the end of this, some of us will probably leave the house in one of the outfits we had been daydreaming about. Some of us might be pushing our sweatpants towards the back of our closets, eager for change. Others of us might have a new sense of power associated with wearing comfier clothing. After all, if you accomplished working from home in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, you might want to continue working in this attire. Is a sweat-suit the new power suit? Some people might want to bring their quarantine loungewear outfits out in public after they come to realize that this is when they truly feel the most confident. Finally, some people might slide back into their regular style habits with a sigh of relief. 

Overall, I am interested in seeing how a global pandemic alters our relationship with fashion, when we are in the middle of it and once it is over. Has your style or perception of fashion changed as a result of these times? What does fashion mean to you?

By: Elle Bialozynski

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