Lockdown Clothing: Sheila’s story

Today’s interview in the ‘Lockdown Clothing’ project is with Sheila Wolper. Sheila is a mixed media collage artist and photographer based in New York City. “I create an alternative, dream like world of distorted reality through my collage work. Using my own photographs or found photographs I delve below the surface of existing stereotypes of men, women, & children and their relationships. You can view my current work on Instagram @sheilawolperstudios.”

1) Can you describe what your personal style was like before lockdown – what did you wear most often?

I am a 74 year old artist who lives in New York City and my personal style is fairly casual. When I work in my studio I wear old jeans or sweats (depending on the season) that have paint on them with an old tee shirt, also with paint on it. I don’t want to have to worry about my clothes when I am working on my art. Before the pandemic if I was meeting friends or going out to a restaurant I wore mostly tailored slacks and a silk top or an interesting sweater. At home before the pandemic and now I wear Nikes to work in & around the house. When I went out I would wear dressier, interesting flats. I haven’t worn any shoe with a heel for many years because I have a problem with my metatarsal. So flats it is, and luckily now there are many interesting styles to choose from.

2) What types of clothing do you wear most often now?

At home now, because of the pandemic I wear jeans and a tee shirt without a bra. My feeling is, “who will see me besides my husband of almost 50 years.” When I have Zoom meetings, I wear good jeans and a nicer top WITH a bra.

3) What is your daily routine for getting dressed to remain at home?

My daily routine for getting dressed now has to do with what is happening that day. If I am working in my studio I wear my paint clothes which are pretty ratty. If I have a Zoom meeting: clean jeans, nice top and bra. After I dress in the morning I make my bed. That way I feel I have accomplished two things early in the day!

4) Has your approach to clothes changed as a result of the current situation?

My approach to clothes is very different now that I am isolated and not seeing anyone. Also, now because of the pandemic I am living in the country, upstate New York instead of Manhattan. Most of my clothing is in my city apartment.

5) Has your self-perception changed in isolation? How so?

I miss going out with my husband and friends and I miss wearing my “going out” clothes with earrings & other jewelry. I also wear no makeup at home and would wear makeup before the pandemic. Going out, wearing makeup, jewelry, nice clothes and shoes made me feel more feminine. Constantly wearing my painting clothes and my at-home jeans makes me feel gender neutral.

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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