Lockdown Clothing: Noorin’s story

Today’s interview in the ‘Lockdown Clothing’ project is with Noorin Khamisani. Noorin has worked in the fashion industry for over 17 years, with ten of those spent in the field of sustainable fashion. In 2009 she set up the ethical fashion label Outsider. Noorin has also had a parallel career in academia, lecturing in fashion design and sustainability at several British universities. She is currently the Lecturer in Fashion Design at the Dubai Institute for Design and Innovation. Originally from London, she is slowly learning to live through the hottest months in Dubai. You can find her on Twitter as @Outsider_style.

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

A mish mash of minimalist and vintage pieces that I can play with depending on how I feel and what I am doing on any particular day. Depending on what I am doing at work, I mix my own label with vintage pieces that help me to either stand out, feel strong or just feel relaxed. As a lot of my wardrobe is black, I often add a pop of colour with jewellery. I also like playing with wearing the same few key items styled in different ways, although I don’t strictly speaking have a capsule wardrobe, I do believe in wearing what I own as often as possible and for as long as possible. I design pieces in my own collection to be versatile, so I am often experimenting with how different combinations and layers can make older things feel new.

2) How would you describe your style now?

I put very little thought into what I am wearing most days, I am not dressing for any particular purpose beyond necessity.

Since lockdown I have been wearing probably 6 items on rotation including, t-shirts with combat trousers, a long linen T-shirt dress, a salwar chemise I normally only wear when I travel to Asia and my pyjamas. It’s all about ease, comfort and little need to think. It’s a bit boring really but I think living through a pandemic has distracted me somewhat from thinking about what I am wearing. Which I am comfortable with, as I know this lock down will end and then I will have a renewed enthusiasm for my wardrobe I am sure.

I am looking forward to an occasion to dress up. I have been teaching online and I did suggest to one of my classes that we all dress up for fun one day. My husband and 4-year-old daughter joined in, and it did lift our spirits I must say. But the next day it was back to the comfy combat trousers.

Noorin with her daughter on their one “dress up” day in lockdown”

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

As I am only going out once a day, I have worn the same pair of sandals every time. I have lots to choose from, but I feel some kind of comfort in the consistency of wearing the same pair. They go with everything, a simple black flat from Beyond Skin, they are pretty and classic.

I am actually wondering why I own so many pairs of shoes at this point, but I do think the variety adds to the fun of getting dressed every day in normal life. And perhaps during lock down, I am just comfortable with not thinking about any kind of change, while we live through so much uncertainty.

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

I have become accustomed to not wearing make-up every day for work which has been a really pleasant and unexpected benefit of the lock down. Teaching online has had its challenges but working from home each day and only being seen from the waist upwards has made me more relaxed. I have become used to the way I look without make-up and don’t feel I need to have it on to be in professional mode.

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?

I think for me the lack of space has made me feel that anything fancy or overly pretty is not appropriate for now. There is no need to think about clothing based on going anywhere so I am focusing on the most useful, comfortable and easy to throw on items. The less thought required the better.

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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