The Gift of Fashion in Quarantine

I was never someone to overtly care about fashion in an obvious way. I never read fashion magazines, and I rarely intentionally followed fashion trends.

The word fashion seems eerily unfamiliar to me, and yet I love shopping and I adore clothes.

Shopping for clothes is ultimately fashion, but I never quite connected to the shrouded terminology, the outrageous catwalk attire and the billions that go into an industry that effectively just wants us to constantly feel inadequate or outdated in order to get us to spend our money.

I guess it’s something I’ve never dwelled on too much until recent years when I found myself a little more strapped for cash and with an unquenchable desire to buy, buy, buy.

Furthermore, with my growing anxieties about climate change, the fashion industry seemed pure evil, and rather pointless in the grand scheme of things.

Though I am infinitely comforted by retail therapy and can’t kick that post-purchase high, I found myself disgusted by people shopping in fast fashion stores, or bragging about recent purchases and hauls – though I am particularly partial to it myself. A modern-day cognitive dissonance conundrum.

I’ve always gone for a slouchy, casual style that can be taken as fashion cool or carelessly lazy, and it’s true that some of my outfits have oozed the latter.

And I guess in recent years I’ve been trying to untangle my esteem from my fashion choice, and my happiness from my purchases. But as a child of boom times and capitalism, I am finding more and more that I am a consumerist at heart.

It’s what our commercialised world wants me to be, and sometimes I overdeliver.

So it’s funny, to watch that characteristic squirm in the current global crisis. My heart tells me to cocoon with online purchases – be that newspaper subscriptions, amazon delivers or online shopping, but my brain is telling me no.

It’s finally a time to reassess the difference between what I want, and what I need.

* * *

And though I pictured this time at home being spent doing odd jobs, writing and generally being productive, I have never felt closer to understanding the world of fashion, which was the last thing I expected to surface in these uncertain circumstances.

In the normal time, I used to long to spend an entire day in my pyjamas. I was thrilled, to get home and free myself from the chains of working day clothes – and I always, always, dressed to be comfortable, always saving nice clothes for nice occasions and effectively circulating the same pieces day in and day out.

But now, here in Madrid it’s day 21 of quarantine and I am wearing shoes around the flat. Albeit they’re Converse, this is probably the first time in my life I’ve chosen to wear shoes when I have no reason to and I’m not going anywhere.

Quite simply, I have finally understood the beauty and the benefits of dressing for myself – not for work, for going out or for an event. Just for me.

I savour getting ready in the mornings – for my day spent sitting at home.

I relish in choosing the new combinations of clothes, the pops of colour that before would have remained hidden in my wardrobe for the right occasion, the right temperature, the right day.

It isn’t about spending money, and replenishing my wardrobe. Like many things right now, it’s about making do with what I’ve got. It’s about realising just how much I already have, and working with it.

I understand now, the fun of fashion. Getting dressed at home has released me of the restraints of society, of the trends, of the judgement.

It’s released me from the wonder of whether this outfit will be too cold later when the temperature drops? or whether this will still be comfortable after running between metros all day? Because, should I so desire, I can change into look two, three or ten of the day at any moment.

Of course, I still have PJ days. I still have days where the most I feel up to is changing into a slouchy jumper and some leggings, and I don’t think I will ever be rid of that comfort.

But I finally understand that dressing up doesn’t have to be something riddled with self-criticism and pressure, but something rather fun and freeing.

And that’s a revelation I hope I take out of this crisis and never forget.


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