Lockdown Clothing: Lena’s story

The Lockdown Fashion project has a new name – Lockdown Clothing! – and today’s interview is with Lena Lenman. Lena is a burlesque and vaudeville artist, show producer, model & photographer based in Surrey. You can find her on instagram as @lenamaelenman.

1) Can you describe what your personal style was like before lockdown?

At the risk of sounding super corny, I’d probably say it was something along the lines of ‘Marilyn Monroe meets Tank Girl’. Both have been major influences to me in style and/or attitude since I was a kid, so really it makes sense that they’d end up fusing! I love dressing fancy but I also like to feel comfortable and functional, so there’s a lot of lipstick and a lot of sneakers going on (never, ever heels unless I’m working). I just wear things that make me feel happy, follow no fashion rules, and keep it playful. For example, my three most recent style purchases have been : A replica of the bomber jacket Sly Stallone wears in Rocky 2, a pink tiger print leotard and a 90s trouser suit!

2) What’s your daily routine for getting dressed to remain at home?

There are a few phases! When I get up I put on my sportswear so I can workout for an hour or so. This is usually sweatpants and a crop top, (though on Sundays it’s lycra and sweatbands for the 80s aerobics classes I run on zoom). Then after a bath, it’ll be ‘proper wardrobe’ time and I’ll dress in my clothes for the day which is always a good feeling. You feel like you can achieve things, don’t you, when you’re dressed?

A few days a week though, I’ll get changed again – either for video life modelling or to get a costume on to film a performance for an online show, or to get dressed up in a household item ‘crap cosplay’ that I’ve been doing over lockdown to get creative and make people laugh… Phew! That’s a lot of costume changes!

3) Has your approach to fashion and style changed as a result of the current situation?

Actually, it’s really opened my eyes to how much I would spend on clothing and accessories! Being out of work and watching pennies has brought to light how often I’d shop on the internet and in charity shops, just a lil’ hat here, maybe some new trousers there…We’re what? Eight weeks into this lockdown now, and I’ve been working my way through the wardrobe and somehow have not worn the same outfit twice! So maybe (hopefully) it’s taught me to chill out a bit on the ol’ spending, and in effect, get creative with what I have.

4) What’s your shoe situation at home? And how does this affect your sense of self?

I’ve never really been that interested in shoes, never really understood the fuss. I mean I like the ones I have and I have fun choosing them, but I’ve never gone loop-de-loop over a pair of heels. So basically they’re all in a horrible tangle at the bottom of my wardrobe, and I have to have a little wrestling match to find the ones I’m after! I mentioned before I like to feel practical, so the general rule is ‘could you dance or run in these?’, hence they’re all flat. Brogues in different colours, Doc Martens from across the years, a tonne of different sneaker styles (hi-tops, lo-tops, boxing boots) and a few pairs of cowboy boots.

5) How much does the space you are in influence your choice of clothes. Do some clothes feel ‘unnatural’ to wear at home because they require, say, a bigger space, or is this not a consideration at all?

Not a consideration, never has been. I just wear what I like, when I like – the way it’s always been!

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 Clothing: a project documenting how we dress at home‘ dated 17th May 2020.

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