Tuesday, July 27

‘I don’t wear pants unless I leave the house’: lessons from a year-long locker room | fashion

It’s a white linen suit that Perry Seymour most misses. “It serves many purposes, but it always reminds me of summer nights,” he says.

Fitted and miraculously stain-free, it’s what he wore in the garden to celebrate his 55th birthday this past July. Not that anyone saw it. “I never thought I would dress for anyone else, but I have found that without occasions or parties, I have no motivation to dress at all. These days, I don’t wear pants unless I’m out of the house. “

Perry Seymour in the white suit that reminds him of
Perry Seymour in the white suit that reminds him of ‘summer nights’

Working as a humanitarian development consultant from his London home since March, Seymour has not only missed parties or dinners with friends; She also yearns for the theater that surrounds them: the grooming rituals, the costumes, the pre-departure part. “Dressing up smart is a big part of this and I feel like I’ve lost a part of my identity, something I’ve cultivated,” he says. “Of course, there is a freedom that comes with worrying less, and my bank account is full again. But sometimes I feel like I don’t look good. Because when there’s no one to look good other than the person you’ve been trapped inside with, why would you even bother? “

A year of Covid restrictions has passed. Regardless of where you’ve spent that year (working around the kitchen table, isolated with loved ones, kidnapped from your usual workplace), going back to something like our previous lives will mean getting dressed again. Trends that have been specific to the year (tracksuits, video calling T-shirts) may soon have run their course. Makeup and sandals can make a cameo appearance. Judging by the readers we’ve spoken to, many women may never wear a bra again.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in the 1988 film Working Girl
Powerful clothing and more … Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in the 1988 film Working Girl. Photograph: 20th Century Fox / Kobal / Rex / Shutterstock

But while leisure wear proved irresistible to some, others missed the spontaneous ways in which clothes and life overlap: the relief of donning slippers when walking through the front door. The painful discomfort of heels after a night out. A time when putting on a tie not only symbolized work, but good health and normalcy.

“I always felt like clothes helped get me into the mood for work, a bit like Joan Collins in Dynasty in shoulder pads and red lipstick,” says Michelle Nolan, a 50-year-old senior manager, who wore Have a work uniform very specific for dress, jacket, heels, jewelry and scarf.

She kept spare makeup in the car, spare shoes in the office, and wore stockings and girdles every day. She used to take the advice of an aunt who had been a flight attendant in the 1960s: “Her line was, ‘Lippy on, tits out, girls,’ before the passengers got on the plane.” Powerful dressing, and something else.

Since working from home last spring, she has only worn stretch pants and bright sweatshirts. “My formal wear didn’t feel like home,” he says. “It would not feel appropriate to be in corporate garb roaring at [my family] to silence. “

Air Canada flight attendants from the 1960s
“Lippy on!” … Michelle Nolan’s corporate attire was inspired by her aunt, who worked as a flight attendant in the 1960s. (Photo shows Air Canada personnel from that decade). Photograph: Dick Darrell / Toronto Star / Getty Images

Jeanine Schalbetter, a 27-year-old divorce lawyer in Switzerland, had a similar epiphany when her job moved to the internet. “I found that I tend to dress smartly to impress others, even to intimidate them,” she says of her court suits and silk blouses. “As soon as this became obsolete [when things moved online], I stopped playing dress-up. Now all I care about is the quality and feel of what I wear, which basically means oversized jumpers all the time, ”he says. “Love it.” With hybrid work on the horizon, Schalbetter may never wear heels again.

Not everyone has had the luxury of using the pandemic to rethink the meaning of their clothing. For those in people-facing jobs, a dress code is generally required, even if the details tend to be trial and error.

A psychotherapist in her 50s tells me she has five or six pairs of beautiful shoes languishing in her dusty closet, “which she used to wear because that’s what people usually look at.” “Now, thanks to Skype [she spends nine hours a day online]I have to think about my hair, my earrings or wearing a nice neckline ”, she says. Not sure what it is exactly, but “it tends to be round.”

Johnny Cash in a 1957 Portrait of a Man in Black
‘My Johnny Cash Moment’ … Bronwyn Cosgrave started the pandemic wardrobe in tribute to the Man in Black. Photograph: Getty Images

Gemma Reilly, a 37-year-old high school art teacher, has moved between the classroom and remote teaching several times since last March. At first, she wore the same thing: a T-shirt, a jacket, sometimes an apron, until she realized that it wasn’t just her students who were looking at her. “She needed to be dressed appropriately, because parents can see you. That meant staying as covered as possible, ”she says. Beccy Hurrell, 39, a freelance vocal coach, he sidestepped the uniform problem by getting the hoodies to bear his name, which is now “thrown in” to show off. “It was for my sanity, really. The hoodies told me I was ‘at work’, which is necessary when you are not, ”he says.

In some workplaces where formality is a requirement, video calling has been a great leveler. When 26-year-old Rosy Roche started working in parliament four years ago, she was “very conscientious about trying to look ‘older’ and being taken seriously by many men in many suits.” That meant a blouse, elegant pants, or a dress. “I was self-conscious about looking as young and inexperienced as I felt,” she says. She now wears jeans and sweaters and has “emergency formal wear” on hand for last-minute meetings.

It took me a while to get used to. “At first, it was strange to see politicians in fleeces in online meetings, like seeing teachers outside of school,” he says. “But when I returned to the parliamentary estate in December, I was surprised by how uncomfortable my work shoes were, after months of slippers and slippers.” Roche says they often discuss how strange it is to ask the prime minister questions from his kitchen, wearing a suit and tie on top, paired with jeans and slippers.

Bronwyn Cosgrave in her Dries van Noten tracksuit.
Bronwyn Cosgrave in her Dries van Noten tracksuit

Bronwyn Cosgrave, the 54-year-old fashion podcast host A different tweedYou’ve seen your wardrobe take a complete turn. “With the onset of the pandemic, like so many people, at first I wore dark casual clothes: sweatpants, T-shirts, sneakers. My philosophy was: ‘I don’t want to waste my good clothes in a pandemic,’ ”he says. Cosgrave refers to this as his “Johnny Cash” moment – “wear black until things get better” – referencing Cash’s 1971 protest song, Man in Black. However, it did not last long. “After four months, I got bored and bought a Dries van Noten ‘tracksuit.”

Things changed for Cosgrave when he was hit by Covid. “The fact of getting vaccinated prompted me to throw in the towel over the pandemic bandage. Now I would describe my look as casual chic. It’s a high / low dressing, a bit of Dries, a bit of Uniqlo, ”he says. Indeed, it is how he dressed before 2020. “I don’t know when I will wear Manolos. But the other day I put on some Jimmy Choo slippers to visit my doctor and it felt good. “

As for the eternal reflection of videoconferencing: “The only way I can support it’s hiding from myself in that little box, ”says Seymour. “It’s too distracting to look at myself.”


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