Community//

Sweats or Dressing Up?

How Clothes Can Keep Us Sane During COVID-19

Photo by Meredith Marquardt with L Photographie
Photo by Meredith Marquardt with L Photographie

I’ve teetered back and forth the past few days about what to say, or if I should say anything at all. I’ve struggled with whether or not talking about fashion or personal style is relevant or even insensitive during this time.

Along with you, I’ve gone down rabbit holes, reading the countless emails and Instagram stories, all dictating similar sentiments about COVID-19 as if the language came from a prescribed training book. That manual, as we all know, hasn’t been published. Which is why we’re taking cues from one another on how to navigate this uncertainty.

What I do know for certain is that talking about and exploring personal style makes a difference in your life — physically, mentally, and emotionally. There’s never been a more critical time than now to refocus on what fashion means to you. This is applicable to everyone. Fashion for many, means community. Community is everything from helping people get dressed and feel great, shopping at your favorite stores and direct from brands, browsing and discovering something new online, buying yourself something special or for someone you care about because it makes you smile, hopping on video chat and complimenting one another on a great pair of earrings. Whatever you think about fashion, or however you engage with it, it’s a global industry and that industry is a community we’re all apart of.

So why am I sharing this correspondence now? Because of you. You fuel the commitment to my role because you respond with positive enthusiasm and meaningful impact. I see the difference my work makes in your life. What I have to share will significantly fuel connection and community, and feed self-compassion. 

Given all the time on my hands at home, I reshared a post this week about a Conair fabric shaver. A how-to guide to cleaning and preparing your knits by shaving away fuzz fields and lint mounds. An act so merely mundane and yet so powerful. Why? For many reasons. It’s an activity that requires minimal mindless focus, the humming of the motor sings a self-soothing melody, it’s a project with a beginning and an end, and it keeps both hands busy. 

Your enthusiastic responses came flooding in, which signaled to me this communication was resonating. It also presented clarity in that these small and often overlooked tasks have the potential to ignite a shift, propagating a tremendous impact. Just as an electronic shaver’s buzzing has for mindful meditation or preoccupying your hands to reduce and distract anxiety, these are transmissions to the brain that result in a changed perspective. Put another way, the concept of spring cleaning — many of which we’ve partaken in — is cogent because it not only creates order in your physical world, but it signals your brain to anticipate a change in season. We respond to our environments. What you wear each day can do the same.

For a long time, the dialogue around what we wear and put on our bodies has largely been conditioning to dress for outward perception — dressing to impress for work, for social gatherings, for courting a potential partner, etc. I’m here to say, now more than ever, to turn inward and pay attention to how something makes you feel when you put it on your body. This, in turn, will encourage you to express your authentic self and spill over into all other areas of your life. Small steps taken when getting dressed will generate a considerable return on personal investment. 

When you get dressed, a series of cognitive experiences occur. This is everything from the sensation of how a fabric or textile feels on your body, to the emotional response of a specific garment that has personal meaning and the internal self-talk occurring as you scan your closet to make choices in what to wear finally. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make small, conscious shifts when getting dressed and pay attention to how you feel, how you speak to yourself, and how you behave when you wear certain types of clothing.  

What do I mean by this? Get out of your pajamas, maintain proper grooming habits, and get dressed in something that works for you, knowing what your day ahead looks like. It could be leggings and jersey knits for some, or others it means putting on jeans and a button-down. You may opt for your workout gear and ease into a fitness routine mid-morning or early afternoon, but once you’ve completed your workout, change your clothes. With all the time spent at home these days, approaching what you wear from this perspective is bound to self-induce healthy mental and emotional wellbeing.

By getting out of your pajamas and into different clothing, it signals your brain to process boundaries in your day. Changing out of your pj’s transmits the start of your day. Putting them back on at night helps your mind switch into “winding-down” mode. This concept can be replicated at various times throughout your day. Similarly, the structure of a home schedule for individuals and families is critical in this current state of affairs. Just as you see how following a calendar or setting time management, you hold yourself accountable to stay on task. Dressing accordingly will account for simultaneous focus and self-worth. I propose that you introspect your internal dialogue and what you’re reaching to put on once you’ve rolled out of bed.

For the past two-plus years, I’ve worked from a home office when I’m not in clients closets, at brand studios, speaking, or hosting SALON (all of these steeped in community engagement). Having come to understand the impact of dressing while home all day, I’ve made a greater, proactive delineation as to how I’m dressing throughout each day in this period of fully working from home. If I don’t do this, then my brain may not be able to separate processing, moods, and self-preservation. Put simply, I’m changing into different clothing day-to-day so that I keep my spirits high, and I continue to empower myself to do what I want and need to do.

Lastly, I want to point out that fashion, at times, has received a reputation of frivolity, and I can understand that position to some degree. Still, it’s a driver for self-love, expression, and community. I’m not here to attempt to solve hunger, or climate problems, or even try at putting a dent on COVID-19. Instead, I’m delivering you consistent joy and happiness to your daily life sprinkled with fashion, and self-quarantined lifestyle inspiration. 

Follow along and connect with me on Instagram @LauraKSawyier for more real-time content around fashion, along with what I’m cooking, watching, cocktailing, reading, and doing. I’ll be dialing back from excessive news exposure because right now, we need community support and love more than ever. Because, after all, the word ‘social’ is half of this instruction. 

 Article originally published here on March 22, 2020.

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