Even though I am a fashion person and I love styling outfits, with nowhere to go and no people to see, I shunned my closet and started living out of my sweats drawer. The minute I found out we'd be on lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus, my heeled booties and pumps started collecting dust. Seriously, I think it started happeing instantly. Save for one day, all of my "outfits," if you can even call them that, were mismatched, each piece selected for the sole purpose of comfort. I think my future husband and lockdown partner, Joey, fully expected this, if he even expected anything at all. He, too, has been wearing the same pajama pants and t-shirts. I can't even remember what he looks like in a suit, his typical daily uniform. My cat, I think, is the most confused. Part of our regularly scheduled programming in the morning involves her staring up at me from the bed as I try on different looks before pouring her a cup of "nummies" and heading out the door.
Dressing up had started to feel like an indulgence that I wasn't ready to allow myself.
So when I decided to dress up for lockdown "date night" this weekend, I had to warn the crew. I warned them on Wednesday. Also, we had to plan something to do. We settled on a game of Rummy 500, wine, and takeout to support a local business. (The cat would have her favourite flavour of Fancy Feast pâté.) I had to try to remember how much time I needed to get ready. I even went so far as to shrug on my robe after stepping out of the shower, which makes me feel a little sexier while blow-drying my hair than if I had opted for sweats.
Even though I was excited to unwind and also do things that make me feel beautiful, I almost felt guilty instilling a sense of normalcy to my Saturday night. Was this, like, OK? Could I swipe on a red lip, get kind of drunk without feeling bad about it, and maybe even have sex? Part of me still doesn't feel right about enjoying myself, not while people are getting sick and others are being socially irresponsible in their lack of social distancing. I feel the same sense of shame that I'm sure many other Americans do right now. Dressing up — and everythign that goes with it — has started to feel like an indulgence that I wasn't ready to allow myself.
While I considered it, I didn't end up putting on a fancy silk slip or anything of that nature. I'm also a firm believer in dressing for the occasion. It just sort of helps me divide my closet into sections as I reserve certain pieces for certain places. I figured that a night of cards called for my favourite dark-wash Levi's and the old vintage belt I separated from its floral dress. My favourite graphic shirts are those with their own sense of irony and wit, hence the muscle tee that reads "Poolside." I added some gold necklaces, hoop earrings, my engagement ring, and black kitten-heel pumps from Charles & Keith.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd looked in the mirror and thought, "This outfit is so me," but it was happening! The fashion girl in me did still exist. I was sure to acknowledge all the usual quirks — seeing to it that my longer and shorter necklaces came to the perfect lengths and refastening them until they did. That sort of thing usually bothers me and elicits a loud, frustrated sigh. "What happened?" Joey would shout from the living room in the middle of his video game at 7:56 p.m. when we were supposed to be at the restaurant to meet our friends at 8 p.m. I'd be rushing. Stupid necklaces. But this Saturday night, I was gentle with my jewellery and thoughtful about which necklaces I put on — my hammered gold coin pendant and the chain with the "J" charm for Joey. It felt really romantic.
When I emerged from the bedroom, Joey definitely did a double take. It made me realise two things: 1. I felt sexy, and 2. I should probably put on makeup more often so he gets used to the way I will look walking down the aisle on our wedding day and doesn't run away shouting, "I don't know this person." I loved my outfit because it really spoke to my sense of personal style, which is apparently still the same two lockdown weeks in — a little sporty, a little eccentric, a little colourful. I loved my outfit so much that I stayed in it until 11:30 p.m. when the post-poke-bowl munchies hit and I needed an elastic waistband to embrace the ice cream sundae I was about to make. As I sat there on the couch in sweats, looking down at my bowl of mint chocolate chip, I felt glad it wasn't the only thing I'd made that night. I also made an outfit. Yeah, that feels like me.