How are people dressing when in lockdown and isolation situations? How is this different to the way they dressed before? Has it affected their sense of self? This project aims to shine a light on those changes and reveal some of the many and varied personal stories relating to fashion and dress in 2020. Today’s interview is with Rosie Findlay. Rosie is a writer and researcher of digital fashion cultures and dress, memory and imagination, and she runs MA Fashion Cultures and Histories at London College of Fashion.
1) How would you describe your style now?
I would say I don’t have a style now. Like many people with a feeling for clothes, I used to let how I felt and the requirements of the day ahead speak to my clothes and that’s how I’d get dressed. Now, it’s like my sense of style is on pause. I want to wear clothes that are comfortable to sit in all day that I can wear for cooking and walking. A lot of my favourite clothes are made of silk or are skirts and dresses, none of which feel right at the moment. I am wearing whatever and often no make-up, but doing so does make me feel less like myself, like part of me is hibernating until this crisis has abated. What I wear most days is some combination of jeans or loose black pants made of bamboo fabric, a t-shirt and a knitted jumper with socks.
2) Has your approach to fashion and style changed as a result of the current situation?
I save my normal clothes for when I go on walks, so I’m the most extra person in the park most days: now it’s sunny, I want to wear my vintage cotton sundresses and 70’s pastel nighties. But I wear them with sneakers because I want to be comfortable walking for as long as I can. I wore some leather brothel creepers the other day that I lived in before this started and they gave me blisters after about half an hour.
3) Thinking back through what you have worn since you’ve been staying at home, what has been your favourite item of clothing and why?
My pyjamas. I don’t wear them in the day, so putting them on it means it’s time for myself: I can stop working, I stop looking at news websites, I find a great movie or open my book or jump online to have cocktail hour with a friend from bed.
4) What are the social situations you find yourself in now (even if remotely), and how do you dress for them?
Actually, having just said that about the pyjamas, there was one day when I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed and only had one meeting all day, so I put a jumper on top just for that call and no-one knew – I felt so cheeky but it was great. Other than that, if I’m teaching I’ll put more effort into my face – I’ll put a bit of make-up on and my glasses, so I look more pulled together.
5) Has your self-perception changed in isolation? How so?
A couple of weeks ago I was teaching a class of students I hadn’t met before, so I put on a dress that always makes me feel pulled together and confident. It’s made of stiff cotton in a faded dark blue, with a nipped-in belted waist and a full skirt: I’ve had it for years, and bought it second-hand, it’s by one of my favourite designers. I put on my pearl ring and a silver bangle I always wear (both gifts from people I love) and I suddenly realised I felt like myself, like the clothes located me and returned me to myself somehow. It was simple and immediate and restorative. It’s nice to know that in time, when it’s the right time, there are vestiges of life from ‘before’ that we can reach for that will still be there- the comfort or energy clothes can bring, the way the weight of fabric can anchor you.
If you’d like to take part in the project yourself, you can find all the information you need in the blog post entitled ‘Lockdown Fashion: an exploration of dressing at home in 2020‘ dated 9th April 2020.