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How to show up for yourself (in style, no less)

Useful fashion and Zoom life productivity tips in quarantine

At first Zoom was exciting. The team meets, the professional and personal happy hours and a feeling of virtual solidarity “we’re all in this together.” In the early days of quarantine when this felt like a makeshift arrangement, it felt like a welcome change. What was not to like— from a productivity standpoint, commutes were 100 steps long, there was no train to catch or no rush hour traffic to beat. For parents, I am sure the first few weeks felt great as there were no drop offs and screaming matches that followed suit. The virus then took the world in its grip a la real-life Contagion; except the end isn’t nigh until there is a concrete plan or a solution. Suddenly remote is not just a thing, it’s becoming a way of life.

And now for the fashion and style part of it. Slapping on a top and a blazer on PJs or shorts and other clever hacks started to emerge. There was a reporter who went viral as a frame revealed that he was indeed wearing shorts with a button down shirt and a suit jacket. He used it as an opportunity to educate and advise on adjusting and testing the frame before you get on the camera. Taking a cue from that humor and the quick-thinking pivot from mortification to inspiration, got me thinking about one thing – how are we showing up? Not for others, but for ourselves. Now that work is home and home is work, can we establish a distinction to separate our personas?

But, once upon a time (a really long time) in Zoom doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, here are a few ways to adapt:

Productivity boosters to try:

1. Make a weekly menu and stick to it, meal prep in advance. Unless your day went from 0 to nasty in 10 minutes flat, then just Doordash it. Exceptions are ok, also you’re allowed to open that “special occasion” beverage.

Image Courtesy: Unsplash

2. Wake up early, and do a quick meditation. Grab your caffeine and write exactly what you will accomplish at work DAILY, starting with the most difficult (eat the frog first).

3. Move for 30 minutes at minimum. Personally, this has helped avoid many fights with my significant other and my kids, who have pointed out I am much more pleasant to deal with after my share of fresh air.

Style hacks I recommend:

Every morning, make it a point to get out of the PJs and work anywhere but the bed. Here is the sartorial rotation I recommend during the week, video call or no video call. This sends a clear signal to your brain that it is not in “home” mode. I simplified this rotation simply because of decision fatigue has only increased in quarantine. Notice, I’ve skipped sweat pants altogether. They’re way too relaxing so maybe try those on Fridays if you must.

  1. Yoga pants, draw string or pull on pants teamed with a dress shirt or a solid tee and a blazer.
  2. A dress – my preference as a typical Northeaster is always the little black dress but break out the florals, colored solids and the best part, you’re one and done. You can even substitute that with a jumpsuit or a romper paired with a denim jacket, still looks professional.
  3. Then there’s the staple – jeans paired with or without a suit jacket and a solid / patterned top or shirt.  

Since the landscape remains volatile with no certainty of returning to offices, schools and establishments, there’s one thing we have in our arsenal—adaptability. We can make tiny adjustments that add up to big results in the long haul. For example, to combat Zoom fatigue and “always on” mode, NPR has some good strategies to avoid screen overload. Remember the meme—there goes a meeting that could have been an email? Apply the same logic and choose a phone call instead of a video call each time. It’s less taxing.

Last but not the least, during this difficult time it’s easy to feel deflated and fall down the “what -if” or “what happens next” rabbit hole. So make a gratitude list, infuse random acts of kindness in your schedule and while you’re at it, do it fashionably. I promise you it’s a real mood booster.

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