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 Hannah Mottram. Hannah is currently studying for a PhD, looking at how people access electricity in rural Tanzania. She was out there when the lockdown started and, as she had moved out of her house in Sheffield, she is now in lockdown with her parents, “so I’ve just got access to the clothes I had with me for my trip to Tanzania (comfortable, practical fieldwork clothes and some summer beachwear) and what’s at home – my fancy dress box!” You can find her on Twitter (@miss_mottram) and on Instagram (@hannmo).
1) What is your daily routine for getting dressed to remain at home? If you don’t have one, why is that?
One of the things I’m proud of is that I’ve got dressed every day. In the morning I’ve been going for things that are comfortable, as I’m often working at a desk. I’ve been getting changed in the day quite a bit – getting into summer clothes thanks to the lovely weather, or putting something fun on for the evening.
2) Thinking back through what you have worn since you’ve been staying at home, what has been your favourite item of clothing and why?
A red sequinned dress! I’ve had it for about 8 years, but as my body has changed its got quite short. I have happy memories of wearing it to Christmas parties and other celebrations, so it’s something that cheers me up when I put it on. So far it’s been worn for a quiz, an afternoon work break dancing to the Spice Girls and drinks with friends.
I’ve also got into sewing, and came back from Tanzania with lots of fabrics. I hadn’t used a sewing machine for about 15 years, so I’m very proud of the first piece of clothing I made for myself. It’s a circle skirt which are both quite easy, and great for twirling. Big thanks to Eleanor (@sewnbyele on Instagram) and Elly (@takeitupwearit on Twitter) for their help. Depending on how long lockdown lasts I might have a few more favourite things I’ve made.
3) What are the social situations you find yourself in now (even if remotely), and how do you dress for them?
It’s quite liberating not having to worry about how comfortable something is – it’s so easy to get changed! For a cocktail party with friends I wore a series of 3 dresses – a summery one as I started off outside, a gold sequinned dress, and when the sequins started to rub, a backless ballerina style dress I’ve had since I was 16. At other times, it’s nice to just be comfortable, wearing loose fitting trousers and t-shirts.
4) Is there anything you feel you can wear now that you couldn’t in ‘normal’ times? Why? And is there anything you miss wearing (and why do you not wear it)?
I was in Tanzania for fieldwork when the lockdown started, with the rest of my stuff in storage in Sheffield. I’m staying with my parents in Leicester, so I’ve only got access to about a fifth of my normal clothes – and they’re fieldwork clothes and beach clothes. Luckily, I also have a fancy dress box in my old bedroom. It’s interesting realising the things I’m missing wearing that are in storage – a sparkly green jacket, flowery dresses (several hand-me-downs from my older sister) and dungarees. It’s going to be interesting sorting through clothes in storage when this is over. Having access to my fancy dress box means I’ve been able to put on fun outfits for virtual pubs and quizzes – including things that don’t fit me now, but I can get away with just the front or top of it showing.
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.