Lockdown Clothing: London’s story

Today’s story in the ‘Lockdown Clothing’ project is from London St. Juniper. London is a queer femme Victorianist and gender studies scholar researching cosplay, comics, fashion, and the gothic. She is an almost-brand-new PhD (December 2020), having defended and submitted her dissertation on fashion and gender in gothic novels and Batman comics. She is also a burlesque and variety performer, and costumer. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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

My sense of self is deeply tied to my performative identity. I think my personal style (in a non-pandemic world) would be best described as high femme alternative fashion. I was happiest when wearing my highest heels, boldest lipstick, and most dramatic dresses. For social occasions I’d most often wear retro-inspired looks, and for work I preferred slim lines and layered outfits, predominantly in black – suit jackets and vests and pencil skirts, suit pants with dramatic lines. I feel taller than I am, because I’d wear four-to-six-inch heels every day.

2) What were the social situations that you routinely found yourself in before the quarantine? And how did you dress for them?

Prior to March 2019 my social sphere centered around performances and private parties. Any opportunity to go out was also an opportunity to “dress up.” The more private the affair the more goth I would dress, but my style was universally femme, centered around stockings and accessories, false lashes, and dresses. I often made pieces to wear for specific events, and looked forward to significant dates as an excuse to buy something “special.”

3) What are the social situations you find yourself in now (even if remotely), and how do you dress for them?

During the pandemic we have continued to socialize virtually, participating in zoom happy hours. I also enjoy movie date nights with a dear friend, thanks to “watch party” apps. At the beginning of quarantine I used these gatherings as a reason to dress “normally,” but during the summer I slowly started showing up in pajamas. I try to put on eyeliner and lipstick when I know I’m going to be on camera, but I’ll skip even these basics sometimes.

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

I wear leather ballet slippers in the house on most days. When I need to feel “dressed” I’ll wear my custom Converse sneakers for a pair of Strange Cvlt flats. It feels very domestic and private. I miss my heels, but prefer being able to slip around quickly, and more quietly, in my house.

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

I really like this question, because I hadn’t thought about why my dressing has changed so dramatically during quarantine. I’ve always worked primarily from home, so why have I gone from outfits that make me happy to clothes that do the job comfortably? And I think the answer is that my wardrobe is built for standing and moving, and my days are now consistently more sedentary. Prior to COVID I was always moving; I worked on my feet, paced and moved at social events, ran errands, and only found myself sitting around at the end of the day, when I’d finish up work or sit at my sewing machine. That’s when I’d change into lounge clothes. These days I’m doing all of my work from a chair (or bed), and my lounge and workout clothes are simply more practical and comfortable for it.

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