Lockdown Clothing: catching up with Sarah-Mary

We’re coming to the end of our Lockdown Clothing project, and in today’s interview we’re catching up with Sarah-Mary Geissler, who answered the original questions back in May 2020.

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

My daily routine, and entire approach to clothing, has completely changed in different ways since the first lockdown. In that time, I have returned to work, was furloughed again and came to the end of my contract. Each period had its own routine. When I was working (from home) I was up early, showering, putting on a face and getting fully dressed to sit at the kitchen table all day. I was still wearing my work lanyard at home, as it’s satisfying to take it off and hang it up at the end of the working day. When I wake up with nothing to do in the day, I’ll spend a little longer in my PJs and just change into anything to keep me warm.

It’s also a lot colder now than my last interview, so I’m usually just layering bits and pieces for comfort with no consideration of what looks good, or what makes me feel good. I’m not seeing anyone so I’m not bothering as much to dress well. My social life generally consists of distance walks, so boots, thick socks and anything woollen. And my big coat, because it’s big coat weather now. I still live in my slippers. I’ve successfully replaced the soles on one pair to prolong their wear. My daily makeup (on the rare days I wear makeup) has become a little more deconstructed, so it might just be brows and a lip, or full glitter at the eyes and nothing else. It’s much more about how I’m feeling on the day.

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

For a while I was choosing a theme to dress up each week for work. This gave me something to look forward to, with themes like ‘denim’, ‘business’ and goth’. It was fun and sometimes silly, but also encouraged me to put on garments that I normally would pass on. When I am in the mood to wear something nice, just to go to the supermarket or to stay in and watch TV, I’ve been dressing more playfully. The weekly themes inspired me to really go to town with colour and pattern combos, and use much more of my wardrobe. I’ve also incorporated hair dye into my weekly routine, which keeps me feeling a little brighter.

But due to the ennui of lockdown, a lot of days I don’t feel excited about clothes and dressing, so I’ll just grab something old and baggy to put on. This does make me feel less confident, because I feel like a bland lump instead of some bright and exciting thing. As far as possible though, I’m making sure to at least change my outfit every day so that dressing never becomes completely automatic.

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

These questions come at a convenient time. I’ve recently just fulfilled my biennial bra restock. Underwear, especially for buxom individuals like myself, can be prohibitively expensive and so buying new items is something I spend (maybe far too much) time considering. I’ve just invested in 3 new bras, two unwired and one sports bra, which signals a lot about where I think I’ll be over the coming year. Wired bras improve my posture when out and about but dig into my ribs when sitting or laying down – which I now do a lot of. Investing in unwired bras is like accepting a fate indoors, putting comfort for my home-working week ahead of my upright outdoors appearance. Though the sports bra shows a positive change in lifestyle… or maybe just my wishful thinking? Also, it’s worth noting, that this was my first time buying bras without a prior fitting. For the cost, I like to be sure that the size is exactly right, but as fitting rooms and personal instore assistance were out of the question, I just had to wing it. I spent days pouring over various lingerie websites before taking the plunge Luckily, they fit like a glove, or, rather, just like a well fitted bra.

My process of buying clothing has completely changed. As a second-hand devotee, I typically spend hours scouring charity shops and vintage stores for unique pieces. Shopping is an especially tactile and personal experience – I need to feel everything and try on. More recently, I’ve gone up about 2 dress sizes and notice that a lot of my clothes no longer fit me. Instead of feeling down about weight gain (it’s a bloody pandemic, nothing’s normal, there’s bigger things to worry about) I’ve just been hitting ebay to try and find baggy/oversized clothes that reflect my style. So I have a whole host of new wardrobe staples thanks to lockdown.

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

It was summer when I submitted my story last time, so now I’m permanently in thick socks, thick tights or trousers. Actually I don’t think I was wearing as many dresses and skirts in summer either, so that’s new too that I’ve got my legs out more. Again, just pulling items from the far reaches of my wardrobe means that my outfits are much more diverse. I’ve also gotten right into unconventional lipsticks and colourful tights. Now that I dress everyday knowing that nobody will see me, my wardrobe has become less of a social uniform and more of an all-out graphic novel hero costume.

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

I’ve become more pragmatic about accumulating clothes, for sure. Over the past year I’ve stopped myself several times from buying party heels because I just know I can’t wear them out dancing for the foreseeable future. I’m also less precious about what I wear and when. Knowing that it might be months before I get to go on a night out has made me reconsider what constitutes my special occasion wardrobe. If I keep waiting for an occasion to wear something, I might miss out wearing something for literal years. So I may as well wear something fancy for a Tuesday night takeaway.

As someone who’s studied the emotional and social significance of clothing, I’m seeing first-hand how dressing well makes me feel more complete and confident. I’m interested to see if I readjust to post-lockdown dressing – I’m quite used to dressing weird now!

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