How to Dress During Lockdown!
Posted on March 31 2020
It’s official: following the Prime Ministers speech of Monday 23rd March 2020, we in England are now on virtual lock down. For those of us lucky enough to be able to work from, and stay home, safe as possible from this horrific virus as it’s possible to be, we must remember that while it may not always feel that we are “lucky”, the fact that we are able to keep ourselves and our children away from harm is a luxury.
This indefinite period stretching ahead of us, however, feels daunting to say the least, and even though we know it’s our duty to adhere to these rules, we are all bound to have moments of feeling trapped, anxious and like our homes are our prisons. While this new wave of stricter measures has been cited as being for the next 3 weeks, on a personal level I have received a text to say that I am classed as one of the vulnerable so have at least 12 weeks ahead of me where I am not even allowed to leave the house. (I have had ulcerative colitis since the age of 14 and have been incredibly fortunate that the disease has mostly been kept under control, thanks to a drug called Asathioprine which is an immunosuppressant. The downside, however, is that if I were to contract COVID-19 I would be at risk of it becoming serious so no exercise outdoors once a day for me. In fact the text I received from the incredible NHS told me that “I can open a window” but was not allowed to “leave home”.)
And while I knew my life was going to be restricted, in the same way it was going to be for everyone, I had seen the prospect of doing the food shopping, getting a take away coffee, being able to walk in the great outdoors and popping into the shop to do some work as a bonus. This is now no longer an option for me but I still have my laptop, my phone, my family, and the internet, and I am hugely appreciative of this things. But I am also hugely aware of the toll this is going to take on my young boys who are bound to get frustrated and worried, not to mention my poor husband, at the prospect of not being to even go to the park – the entire household has to isolate otherwise I will need to keep away from them all which would simply be impossible!
Because stay home we will. That is the only thing we are being asked to do, the only thing we are able to do with this war effort. When I think of the men and women all over the world living in extreme conditions every day, the grandparents and great grandparents of this nation who had to do the exact opposite and leave their homes, to fight for the very freedoms we have spent the last 70+ years enjoying , our home enforcement is a minuscule price to pay.
It does, however, mean that the next few weeks and months are going to require us all to find a way of adapting to this new normal way of life and every day is going to bring new challenges, new lows but also new joys. One thing that has been a point of many (WhatsApp primarily) conversations has been the need or not for routine. Whether you’re in self isolation, working from home, home schooling, or a combination of these, this is an important question, because while our physical health is of course of paramount concern, our mental health, and that of those around us must not go ignored. And planning how to face the day when every day seems endless and repetitive is important, whatever that plan is.
Neither Kat nor I are super strict, draconian types, and I am probably more a follower of routine than she is, but we have both been appreciative of a rough timetable of schooling these past few days, and will continue to adhere to it for as long as we can, mainly because we both have young children in need of guidance and structure.
While they are still technically at school, we are trying to adhere to a 9am-3pm timetable, with lots of breaks, outside activities and indoor fun alongside math and English. And part of this routine is, very obviously, what the F**K does one wear when one gets up in the morning with nowhere to actually go?!?!
For anyone who doesn’t wear a uniform this can be a hard enough question to answer at the best of times, let alone at the moment when we have no idea what the day will bring. But unless you are planning on hanging around at home naked (and that is a very viable option plus will reduce on washing) we have put together a few ideas for you, based on what we ourselves are wearing, because it might seem shallow but keeping your sense of style will definitely help in part to keep your sanity.
If you’ve donned your teacher’s hat, the sky is kind of the limit in terms of your morning attire. All you need to do is look at your child’s educators to realise that teaching requires a pretty open dress code. Kat and I have both been making a point of doing the PE With Joe Wicks every morning with our children so it’s been sports bras and gym leggings for us and I for one have ended up staying in this, with a vest and Sundry hoody or Nimble tee over the top. The bonus of staying in these is that if the option to do some yoga or pilates solo or something child focused like Cosmic Kids presents itself, I am already in the right gear. And it also means I have less washing to do – although why I am avoiding doing washing is beyond me, given that I literally have all the time in the world to get it done!
Try our Varley and Nimble leggings, which are incredibly flattering and performance targeted and the Nimble long sleeve tees and soft bra tops.
Kat on the other hand, has always been one for changing outfits, or at least half an outfit at different points of the day, so after the PE session (which, incidentally is bloody hard and will hopefully go some way to offset this sedentary lifestyle!) and a morning of teaching she has been having a shower and putting on a dress, or midi skirt and tee, something which she swears is helping with her mood. In fact her analogy was that of being on holiday – when after a day by the pool or beach you have a shower and put “proper” clothes on for pre-dinner drinks and snacks. Yes people, fantasy is the only way through this.
As for make-up, neither of us have stretched that far but I am already feeling the need to reacquaint myself with my cosmetic bag. I have arranged a Zoom video conference with 3 of my university friends and one of them has already committed to setting her hair in rollers for the event so I feel my black eyeliner and glitter eyeshadow will be making an appearance.
But in reality, whatever you need to wear to help you be a calm, caring, patient parent and hopefully vaguely competent teacher will suffice. If workout clothes make you feel slobby and unkempt (they definitely can have that effect) opt for relaxed fit jeans, a tee or soft shirt and a cardigan, so that you can still be practical but also feel put together.
The Current Elliott fling, the Boyish Tommy and the new J Brand Adele are all brilliant examples of relaxed yet proper jeans, what we like to call a weekend jean. So when every day kind of feels like a weekend, these are our go to. We are both big fans of the fling, while Kat rocks the Tommy and Oz has recently gone for the Adele.
If you’ve converted your bedroom into a boardroom or are using the kitchen table as your hotdesk, it might be tempting to stumbling out of bed and go straight to the “office” in your pj’s, safe in the knowledge that no one will ever know. But for those of you who have to log on to video conference calls or face time with colleagues or client, this isn’t an option. Well not entirely anyway.
We have been told by many a client, long before COVID-19, that when working from home (or WFH in the modern vernacular) and they had to be visible, they would put on a silk Dea Kudibal blouse, Equipment shirt or Des Petits Hauts knit, and would be confident of looking professional and competent. In fact one lovely lawyer client said that this had happened so much recently that her colleagues have now commented on her amazing collection of blouses!
Whatever you have on with said blouse really is up to you. If you’re an all or nothing type of person then still go with what you would usually wear, be that a pencil skirt, or tailored trouser. But as you can keep your lower mostly half hidden, why not tuck your skirt into a pair of dark blue high rise jeans. Paige transcend fabric is smart enough to feel professional but comfortable enough to sit in all day.
Then once you’ve logged off, undo the top button, put your feet up and enjoy not having the sweaty commute home.
If separates aren’t your thing, there is nothing easier than a wrap dress that can also double as a dressing gown! Go for a sophisticated geometric print or an uplifting floral and feel free to wear with slippers.
This is probably the hardest category to write about, mainly because we are feeling so much for those of you having to fully and utterly isolate and are on your own. Our mother is one such person and given she lives less than a mile away and is used to seeing us and her 5 grandchildren several times a week, this is an area we are especially aware of.
She has always been an incredibly relaxed dresser, so the prospect of her doing anything different is laughable – she hates wearing make up and is most at home in a pair of stretchy navy trousers, a white t-shirt and a cardigan, so we are under no illusions that being self-isolated is going to affect her sartorial choices.
But for those of you who use fashion as a form of expression, like so many of us, and are unable to even get dressed up to go to the shops or enjoy a walk, these are going to be really testing times. Obviously your mental health is of paramount importance and we really hope that you are finding blogs like this helpful, are interacting constructively on Instagram and social media and have friends and neighbours checking in on you. It is so important to keep connected to friends, family and general life outside your four walls and if there is anything you need from us, please do let us know.
If you can, get your gym clothes on first thing so that even if you don’t feel like doing any exercise when you wake up, getting dressed for working out is sometimes half the battle, so by being in the appropriate clothing, if and when mood does grab you, you can get straight into. And if not, at least you’ll be comfortable.
If you are someone who is able to get their exercise done first thing, once you get showered, if you feel like getting dressed into “proper clothes”, opt for things you would usually wear, again think weekend style. Your favourite jeans and sweater top, a jersey dress, a luxuriously soft cashmere jumper with casual pull on trousers, anything that you would usually put on for a Saturday spent pottering around, that makes you feel like you.
It may seem trite to be worrying about what to wear, but your mental health is so important and part of that is feeling good about yourself and feeling like yourself. Another thing that might give you a boost or lift your spirits is to get ridiculously dressed up!
After going through a bad break up in my early 20s and being very blue and antisocial, I ordered myself a Chinese take away, opened a bottle of red and put on the floor length, magenta Moschino dress I had worn to my 21st birthday and my most vertiginous heels. It immediately lifted my spirits, gave the delivery man a laugh and was in fact one of the tastiest Chinese meals I’ve ever had. My husband has also been known to come home from work and find me in my wedding dress when I’ve had a bad day so I am most definitely an advocate of using fashion as a mood elevator.
So if there is something in your wardrobe that you save for best, a sequin top from the Christmas period, a maxi dress you bought for Ascot, wear it! Put your lipstick on, add the heels you never wear, take some photos or Facetime someone you love. Because not only will feel like your most fabulous self, but you will be sure to make the person on the other side of the screen smile, and we all need more smiles right now.
And in this vein, our friends The Brand Ambassador have started a #dressupfriday movement for all of us at home, to get dressed up in your finery and gladrags and frankly the more outrageous the better. Both Kat and I will be joining in and there is something so magical and heartwarming about be part of something like and knowing you aren’t alone. Because if we learn anything from this most trying and testing of times, it’s that we are all in this together and community really is what will save us all.