It’s been over six months since we started the Lockdown Clothing project, and everyone’s lives have changed considerably since Jana and I first started collecting stories of how people are dressing under lockdown and quarantine. Recently, we have been reflecting on how our own approaches to fashion and dress have changed since April and, following my presentation at the Dress in a Time of Crisis event, we began toying with the idea of follow-up questions.
So, as many parts of the UK are entering further lockdowns, we’re re-launching the project and will be sending additional questions to all our original respondents over the next few days. To begin this second wave, here are my own answers to the follow-up questions (which have now been added to the Lockdown Clothing Project page). Lori Smith answered the original questions back in April 2020.
1) Can you describe how your daily routine and/or social life has changed in recent months?
I’m still working from home every day, so that part of my daily routine hasn’t changed, although it’s become a little more normal than it was back in April. I have, however, ventured further away from my home since the initial UK lockdown was eased and have done a small amount of offline socialising. I now have a growing collection of reusable cloth masks (mostly all handmade) and that has brought its own challenges. When I first purchased one, my only considerations were to support an independent maker and to get a mask in a fabric that I liked. Now that my masks have all been washed several times and I’ve worn them for longer periods (e.g. for an hour or so while on a train/in an exhibition/at the hairdresser, rather than for just 5 minutes in the local bakery), I’m now prioritising the styles/shapes of masks which are more comfortable to wear and less likely to make my glasses steam up!
2) Has your approach to clothing changed since you submitted your story to us?
I started lockdown with Big Outfit Energy, going for dressing fancy to lift my mood with themed weeks and Instagram posts aplenty. I did a week of outfits that had previously only been worn to parties and weddings, a week of twentieth century styles, a week of holidays (from Valentine’s Day through to Christmas), and even a week of Spice Girls looks! As we got into May, I lost momentum with my themes and I guess… maybe I needed it less? When I got my summer wardrobe out of hibernation, it was enough just to wear what I would have ordinarily done in summer. Now that we’ve entered the darker winter months, I think I’ll probably be returning to themed outfits and “dressing fancy” as a way to cope with the inevitable onset of SAD. Perhaps I’ll get round to the week of hats that I wanted to do?
3) If you feel that your personal style and/or self-perception has changed since lockdown, can you describe how?
I don’t feel like my personal style has changed as such, but I have been exploring different aspects of it. Now that I don’t have to compose an outfit that will work for moving around London all day, I’m free to explore the purely visual side of the way I dress and the overall effect it gives. Normally I’m quite focused on fabric textures and small details but, with hardly anyone seeing me up close, I now almost feel like I’m dressing for the stage… the Zoom stage! I’ve always viewed myself as a person who uses clothing to bring a little bit of joy into the world, and that has most certainly continued in the last six months.
4) Is there anything that you wear now that you didn’t wear when you submitted your story? If so, why?
Masks are the most obvious thing, as there wasn’t really any guidance on wearing them back in April and my household was shopping online so I wasn’t spending time in any indoor spaces (other than my own home), or in any crowded outdoor spaces. I’m now wearing a slightly wider variety of footwear, as I’m venturing out a little more often, and the change in weather means that my winter coat has made an appearance. However, the main wardrobe item that has made a reappearance is my beloved handbag! I used the downtime to return it to Tusting for repairs, and so now it’s as good as new.
5) Has your approach to purchasing clothing changed as a result of lockdown? How so?
I have definitely thought more about my purchases over the last 6 months. Rummaging through wardrobe for interesting outfits to wear while working from home has shown me the extent of what I have, what I don’t wear, and where there are gaps in what I own. I’ve replaced worn out winter shoes with second-hand Doc Martens, have bought a signet ring I’d been after since January and, despite my dedication to the underwire, have even got myself a non-wired bra. Purchases have mostly been from small businesses or independent makers/sellers, and are usually either something I have been considering buying for a while or things that fill a specific gap in my wardrobe. However, I did make one impulse purchase recently… a black velvet hooded cape, lined with leopard print faux fur. Perfect for staying cosy and glamorous during the winter months!