Lockdown Clothing: following up with Alanna

It’s been over six months since the start of the Lockdown Clothing project, and everyone’s lives have changed considerably since we first began collecting stories of how people are dressing under lockdown and quarantine. Dr Alanna McKnight answered the original questions back in April 2020 and this is what she told us when we checked back in.

1) Can you describe how your daily routine and/or social life has changed in recent months?

My daily routine has remained working my 9-5 job, though it’s getting harder to wake up with the first alarm. My social life has changed in that I have ventured into seeing people in my social “bubble” in real life rather than over video chat. It’s only two or three people, but it’s nice to be able to hug people again. The numbers in Toronto are now worse than they were at the peak of the first wave. We’re firmly in wave 2 now, and though bars and restaurants are open, I haven’t braved them. I also haven’t been to the salon yet, as I don’t feel safe enough yet. The biggest change, however, is I somehow entered into a new romantic relationship, so he’s joined my social bubble. We didn’t seek it out; it happened by accident, but I do know people who have been on dating apps throughout the pandemic, and I can’t fathom that. It was challenging at first to come up with date ideas that were outdoors, but thankfully Toronto has many interesting corners to explore.

2) Has your approach to clothing changed since you submitted your story to us?

At the start of quarantine I tried to cheer myself up by wearing nice shoes as I work, and I wore caftans. That has devolved to PJ pants and a ratty t-shirt when I’m home. Since I leave the house more often now, I have had the chance to re-discover my wardrobe, and will wear more eye make up than I normally do since going out now feels like an occasion. Mandatory masks makes wearing lipstick hard though. My approach to clothing is more lazy when I’m home, which is most of the time, and more adventurous when I see people, which is seldom.

3) If you feel that your personal style and/or self-perception has changed since lockdown, can you describe how?

It has now been 10 months since I’ve dyed or cut my hair. The salons are open, but I don’t feel that it’s safe enough with the number of covid cases in Toronto. It bothers me a little bit, but I’m trying to be positive about it, since my normal black will be grown out enough that I can do a bright colour when the time comes. But at the moment my hair is very long and uninspired, and I feel like it overwhelms my general appearance. I have a lot of emotion and anxiety tied up in my hair.

Like I mentioned above, I’ve been trying to re-discover my wardrobe when I go out somewhere, so I think being quarantined has made me appreciate pieces I have more and use any excuse to wear something special. Beginning a relationship also helped since I was trying to dress to impress. It helped break me out of my lazy quarantine style.

4) Is there anything that you wear now that you didn’t wear when you submitted your story? If so, why?

At this stage, it’s been almost 8 months of working from home, I no longer bother getting dressed for work, unless I have a meeting. But even then I don’t bother putting on makeup. The ennui of being trapped inside has resulted in rolling out of bed and spending the day in PJs. I feel guilty about this, since I think if I could find the will to get dressed it would break up the day and make it feel less like purgatory.

5) Has your approach to purchasing clothing changed as a result of lockdown? How so?

At the beginning of quarantine I tried not to buy things, because there was nowhere for me to wear them. But I’m one for whom retail therapy is real, and I’ll admit that I have fallen for some Instagram ads while doom-scrolling. Of the strangest things I’ve purchased are four velvet dresses, none of which are black. That’s what makes them strange for me. 98% of my wardrobe is black. I have justified several purchases thinking that since my style doesn’t follow trends, I will be able to wear them once I return to work, or once the world opens up again. And it’s sad to admit, but the anticipation of mail adds something to look forward to. The future is so unknown right now, so knowing there’s something delightful coming in the mail creates a sense of anticipatory excitement. There was a couple of months where I hadn’t put away new purchases, and a stack of new dresses were draped over the chair at my sewing table. There was a sadness to that, so I finally put them away.

‘I’ve titled this pic “pj pants and covid hair”. it’s a very honest view of what I look like most of the time these days. it’s not pretty but it’s real.’

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