Today’s story in the ‘Lockdown Clothing’ project is from Katie Sawyer. Katie is a trainee curator at Bodmin Keep, Cornwall’s army museum. She studied archaeology at Durham University and specialised in archaeological textiles, including stinging nettle fabric. Currently she is working on her first exhibition ‘Frontiers of Fashion: how military uniform influences civilian fashion’, which will launch digitally on 23rd July 2020. You can find her on Twitter as @K_L_Sawyer and @CornwallInterns.
1) Can you describe what your personal style was like before lockdown – what did you wear most often?
I effectively had a uniform to keep me warm, as I worked in an old stone barracks: tank top, long sleeved top, woollen jumper and corduroy trousers. The colour combinations would change, but the items remained the same. I also have the most wonderful red Paddington Bear coat which I wore all winter.
2) What types of clothing do you wear most often now?
I have worn about 90% dresses during lockdown, so a complete switch. This is partly due to the hot weather, but mainly because my knees have been swollen due to an injury. Trousers were too uncomfortable, so I changed to dresses. There is also a perverse joy in wearing vintage 1950s dresses that I inherited from my grandmother, when almost no one sees what I look like. My colleagues have become used to seeing a different dress on each Zoom call.
3) Has your approach to clothes changed as a result of the current situation?
I was already moving towards sustainable clothing, but the inability to shop has cemented my plan to only sew or purchase clothing second hand from now on. I already own so many things, I really do not need to contribute to the climate impact of the fashion industry.
4) Thinking back through what you have worn since you’ve been staying at home, what has been your favourite item of clothing and why?
I inherited a raspberry pink 1970s corduroy skirt from my grandmother and wear it constantly. Each pocket is big enough to hold a paperback book, and it’s warm for cosy rainy days.
5) What are the social situations you find yourself in now (even if remotely), and how do you dress for them?
During my daily walks I would wear my vintage dress, add chunky walking boots with ankle support, and a clashing colour jacket to stay warm. When I occasionally saw people on the footpath, I’m sure my outfit looked odd, but I felt comfortable anyway. Having few people see my outfits has increased my confidence in wearing slightly outrageous dresses, especially ones that would be impractical at work.
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.