Fashion

9-5 DRESSING: COMFORT V WORKWEAR

Which one are you?

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EMMA FIRTH

ASSOCIATE EDITOr


Associate EDITOR

THE POWER DRESSER: EMMA FIRTH

People who are quarantining in jeans: what are you trying to prove. One of a million memes that circulated at the start of lockdown: part one. Quite frankly, I felt a bit thorny upon reading this. Not least because I was wearing jeans at the time.

What was I trying to prove? I mean, I geddit: your boss can’t see them on a Zoom call, your family / flatmate / dog / cat certainly doesn’t give a shit what clothes your wear. As long as you’re wearing something. And now you have the opportunity to wear snugwear! 24/7!

Why would you not take full advantage of such an offer? It goes back to the question of who we, really, dress for? One happy realisation, in this yo-yo of a year, is the confirmation that I dress - 98% of the time at least - for my own pleasure. I like that when I feel a bit crap on doomsday (a Monday morning), I can put on a blazer that I’d normally wear to the office BC and feel a bit more together. More resilient.

I don’t even think about it as dressing up, so much as just Getting Dressed. Part of my daily routine: get up, ponder for a few minutes on the collapse of civilisation, shower, shake it off, decide what blazer to wear (sized up shoulder pads to match the excess of emotional burden). It gives shape to otherwise shapeless days.

Speaking to Billie Bhatia, fashion features editor at Stylist, in March, about her WFH style persona, she agreed. "It’s not just the clothes that will help get me out of pyjama funk, it’s also makeup (nothing will stop you napping like the thought of getting foundation on fresh sheets)," she says. "It’s footwear – don’t just fall into slippers, stick a pair of trainers on.” Alas, I only have one pair of trainers, and they are always muddy. So, instead, you’ll find me in a pair of ankle boots. My everyday boot, pandemic or no pandemic.

This is all to suggest not that everyone should wear a power blazer and boots everyday. That would be completely boring. But rather, dress in whatever makes you feel good. This has been a year of adapting to new rules. New tech. A new way of living entirely. But you and your closet have been through a lot together - don’t give up on it just yet.

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HEATHER GWYTHER

CONTRIBUTOR


CONTRIBUTOR

THE COMFORT DRESSER: HEATHER GWYTHER

Comfort dressing in a global pandemic isn’t a custom I endorse with absolute conviction – that would defeat the point. After all, it’s not something that should be overthought. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think I chose it. Like much of my life, it just happened – although I guess it’s been an appropriate uniform for an uncomfortable time.

To me, comfort dressing is simply a byproduct of being at home a lot. Why try when I now exist mostly through a screen, I wonder (bitterly) – and that’s only when I bother turning my camera on. WFH was always going to mean different things to different people. While some take to ‘waist-up dressing’ as though it were the ultimate exercise in maintaining professional decorum, I take it to mean putting on a bra (probably a sports one in anticipation of the Chloe Ting workout I will not in fact do at lunch). When what I really want to wear is absolutely nothing at all, this feels like the compromise I must make in order to answer the call of duty – but you can label me as lazy if you want, because I am.

Who knows, maybe donning a pair of leather trousers and a blazer to WFH might be the thing to truly motivate me. But then I picture myself – a mangled crone pretending to be a girlboss – hovering over my laptop at my makeshift ‘workstation’ (which may or may not sometimes double as a bed) in this outfit and, frankly, I look ridiculous. Granted, I also look ridiculous in comfortable clothes that are both mismatched and disproportionate, but – to me at least – ridiculousness is slightly more palatable when it’s presented with an air of nonchalance.

Predictably, comfort dressing hasn’t just seeped into my working wardrobe – it’s omnipresent. If coronavirus hadn’t happened, I might have wished that I could be part of the world Matthew M. Williams recently created for Givenchy. Or wondered how affordable Blumarine was. Now, I fantasize about owning a pair of UGG boots. I scour eBay for matching Juicy Couture tracksuits. I consider investing in SKIMS loungewear. I attempt to manifest cashmere in general, not caring what form it assumes.

Indeed, you could say that my approach to comfort dressing has – sometimes – been somewhat considered. After the first lockdown, I went to the dry cleaners to get my tracksuit bottoms hemmed and my holely jumpers repaired. It gave me a sense of sartorial accomplishment unlike any I’d experienced previously. Was there a possibility that I could still look relatively elegant in a state of extreme comfort? Maybe.

Of course, comfort dressing has also been an outdoor pursuit. I want to purchase a pair of Salomon trainers. They'll go nicely with the full-length puffer coat I have that feels like portable ensconcement in a duvet. My brother says it makes me look like Arsène Wenger, but I don’t care – because it’s comfortable, obviously.

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