Fashion

Is It Worth Getting Dressed Up to Stay at Home?

by Evan Ross Katz

"I got dressed fully for Instagram today," Ilana Glazer told her followers during an Instagram live on Monday afternoon. On Saturday, Andy Simmons went for a "cute walk" dressed in all denim. "Ya know, just to feel something," he told his followers on Instagram in a sentiment I think many can relate to while being gaslit by an administration that is denying science and touting unproven drugs in the ongoing fight to flatten the curve. "I don't care how bad this thing gets, I am NOT wearing sweatpants," Forbes writer Hugh McIntyre tweeted on Monday morning.

For millions, working at home is the sudden new normal for the foreseeable future, while thousands of others find themselves completely unemployed after losing their jobs as a result of the economy's collapse. As CNBC reported last Thursday, the jobless claims in the US rose to over 280,000 compared to 211,000 from the previous week. These fears extend to the global fashion industry. According to The Guardian, as factories begin to close and orders start to peter out, some 40 million garment workers stand to lose wages, if not their jobs altogether.

Thus far, corporations and conglomerates like LVMH, Kering, Prada, and Armani have stepped up to aid in the need for increased supplies on hand sanitizer and medical equipment. Designers like Christian Siriano have reassigned their seamstresses to make medical masks. Christian Cowan confirms to PAPER that he will do the same with his team of four seamstresses, having them work on the gowns "because there's less room for hygienic error." Kerby Jean-Raymond converted his Pyer Moss offices into a donation center for masks, gloves, and other medical-grade supplies in addition to a $5,000 donation to purchase additional medical materials. Designer Briana Danyele is using her home sewing machine and 100% Supima cotton "and a lot of love" to create masks inscribed with the words "WE GOT THIS." So far, she has created masks for local hospitals in South Carolina and shipped masks to Illinois, Indiana and Georgia she says.

The full effects of coronavirus on the fashion industry remain unknown, as is the case with nearly every industry as well as daily life as we know it. So for now, from inside our homes, many of us wait — anxious, scared, withdrawn. "To be honest, it is a struggle to work from home," says designer Daniel Dugoff of the brand HOMOCO. "When I started my first brand, I worked out of my apartment and found it challenging to separate my work time from my home time. Having a studio that is separate from my apartment has helped me keep balance between work and home." Unfortunately, that is no longer an option for the foreseeable future for Dugoff and countless others.

It might seem at best unnecessary and at worst distasteful to write about what those of us stuck at home are wearing in times as dark as these, but for so many of us, fashion is our light in the dark. This is not a story of those miraculous doctors and nurses and service workers saving lives. Those stories exist, and I encourage you to read them. This is not that story. But I can't help but feel it's still worth telling. As Marc Jacobs aptly noted on Instagram in one of a series of at-home selfies, "put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out."

"I am more or less living in a Marc Jacobs cashmere hoodie with Rick Owens sweatpants and some Adidas shower slides," Jacobs says, adding that at present, most days he likes to get a look together and spend his day and evening in it. Amongst his favorites wears at the moment: recent Prada, Celine, Gucci, Balenciaga, Lacoste and (but of course) the Marc Jacobs collections. "I love getting dressed and the whole ritual. I like to take selfies and record and post the looks. I enjoy hearing the feedback. And of course, I'm an attention whore so it all works out for me — and anyone looking at my IG page."

Next I want to talk to James Scully, referred to by Business of Fashion as one of the most prominent casting directors within the fashion industry, is wearing these days — since I just can't imagine him dressed to the 3s, 4s or 5s. "I'm keeping groomed," he confirms. "Each day I make a point to wear something nice or my favorite things. Clearly I'm home so it's casual but I'm still dressed head to toe… with cozy slippers of course!" Scully says that for him sweats are sloppy and he therefore feels sloppy wearing them, noting that he won't even sleep in them. "I still have to look in the mirror and I don't want to look like i've given up already. Plus I have a dog and since I'm out in the world even for a few minutes a day I hope it sends a nice message."

So is all dressed up and nowhere to go the new normal? "Oh my god no," says Carla Lalli Music, Food Editor at Large at Bon Appétit and host of Back-to-Back Chef. "Unless you mean 'are you dressing up like a character' in which case: Yes, I'm dressing up as an aerobics instructor from 1976 who also works as a short order cook at the local diner."

For Lalli Music, the opportunity to dress down has provided reprieve amidst the sudden conversion of her house into a dual workplace for her and her husband, a school for her two kids and a small family canteen. "I think back to all the time I spent working in offices, and how often I resented having to put on clothes. And I think about how happy I always was to come home and change out of those clothes. Now, we're always in the inside clothes, and honestly that's a joy. This is coming from a woman who has gone to the bodega in her bathrobe, so take it with a grain of salt."

Parks and Recreation and Good Girls star Retta is rocking a similar aesthetic. "I wish that I could say I was representing lounge chic," she says, "but it looks more like I've been committed to a mental hospital and I've made my first breakthrough with the hot psychotherapist, so I'm still in dingy depressing sweats." ("But," she proudly adds, "I've at least started brushing my hair.")

For fashion journalist @PAM_BOY, dressing up remains his norm, but with an amplified effort toward comfort, referencing a Karl Lagerfeld quote in which the prolific designer said that everyone should go to bed as if they have a date waiting at the door. "The idea that dressing up boosts one's confidence and spirits is not preposterous in my opinion, quite the opposite, and especially at home," M'pelé says. "So, I'll wear clothes that are not frumpy, I will keep ironing my socks too, wear silk ensembles; business as usual in the wardrobe. Then again, it's also the opportunity to wear nothing at all, which I do too in order to whiff the smell of freedom."

Some are even finding an excuse for a mid-day outfit change. Or, in the case of the Real Housewives of New York star Dorinda Medley, three! "I've been wearing three different looks while I am quarantining here in the Berkshires: I have my morning wake-up loungewear look, then I change into my Dorobics workout gear, and lastly I put on my casual, daytime comfy look. I am making it nice in all three! My main style aesthetic right now is casual and comfortable."

The Good Place and Barry star D'arcy Carden is in a similar state of aesthetic, telling me she hasn't put on a pair of structured pants in over a week. Good for her, I can't help but think, emulating Lucille Bluth. "Not one pair of pants with buttons or zippers or denim," she says proudly before explaining to me her two rules when it comes to dressing at present: comfort and clean. "I've noticed I'm wearing T-shirts that bring me teeny feelings of happiness: my 'Broad Fucking City' shirt, my Madonna Confessions On A Dance Floor shirt, my 'Chidi Anagonye in a flower crown' shirt, my mom's cool green ringer T from the 70's. Even though I'm probably wearing them under a sweatshirt, there is something about making little choices that bring us joy that is feeling very correct these days."

Great British Bake Off fan favorite Michael Chakraverty has been finding himself in his pajamas most days of late — "a scruffy Harry Potter tee and dinosaur leggings, naturally," he says. He doesn't seem to mind a break from what he calls his "normal" clothes. "Pajamas make me feel relaxed, meaning I don't need to think about doing anything in particular and can mooch about the house without any outside influences or pressures. I suppose that's why I also wear my comfy pajamas under regular clothes when I'm going out to the shops of late. It's almost like I'm secretly refusing to engage with the real world; if I have to go outside, it's on my terms."

Singer/songwriter YVES is another person seeking escapism via his preferred medium: movement. "I dress up every night and dance for an hour in my room to a different genre of music or whatever instrumental sounds I'm feeling that night. Most of the time I'm in my room in short shorts, or a really destroyed pair of jeans that I 'can't' wear in public." Immediate bulging eyes emoji! "I'm figuring it out day by day," he says of his mental state. "The internet is a cool auntie right now. After my morning workout, I work on music. Creating is good healthcare, besides the obvious healthcare that humans deserve."

It seems fashion is certainly one way to keep us all connected, albeit from six feet apart or more.

Welcome to Wear Me Out, a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he'll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.

Photo via Instagram

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