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Post-pandemic Style Dilemma

 

illustration by @emilybeatham


I think it has now been three weekends of watching all my mutuals on Instagram step out into the great outdoors and party, after being couped up inside for six months. I, personally, have teetered from the fear of missing out to the fear of being within, but at the very centre of it all is one looming question: 

What the f*ck do I wear?

Seriously, as a fashion fanatic I have been freaking out at the idea of expression via style after lockdown, because while it feels like things are back to normal the pandemic is not over, and my pandemic wardrobe does not include anything beyond sweatpants and oversized t-shirts. My first essentials run with my sister saw me in jeans, a hoodie (the hood of which I secured tightly over my head, pulling the strings and marrying them with a knot under my chin), some sneakers, and, of course, a mask. Whatever parts of my body that didn’t need to be exposed, weren’t, and in my head, it felt like I was creating a protective barrier between me and COVID-19.  I get that this did absolutely nothing to protect me but dealing with anxiety in the middle of a pandemic with no end in sight will have you doing just about anything for some peace of mind. I guess I decided then and there that this would be my new uniform, because from that point onward, I wore a variation of that outfit every time I left the house. 

I have an Outside Clothes Rule that I am quite strict about: the outfit I have on throughout the day must come off as soon as I get home, because I can’t bear the thought of bringing all those outside germs and bacteria into my resting place. Enter COVID-19. and I have gone from 100 to about ten thousand regarding that rule. I mean, I am at Get Undressed Before Entering The House, level of intensity right now. 

The thing about a deadly virus spreading over the globe is that every little, possibly insignificant, yet anxiety-inducing decision feels so much worse than it used to. I have somehow managed this stress by wearing my Essentials Run Outfit coupled with my Outside Clothes Rule and I have felt safe. 

But now it’s Springtime. It’s getter warmer, and I am faced with another dilemma to pull my hair out about. I can’t get away with being covered from top to bottom without sweating buckets all day. I want to look good again! I want to go out more and start wearing less, but I am perplexed at how to do this without pandemic paranoia taking over. I can’t begin to fathom (and yes, I know this is impossible, but just indulge me for a second) how I am expected to show up to places in a sexy, barely-there dress and not worry about absorbing COVID-19 through my skin. 

How am I supposed to show up to places where there is nobody wearing a mask? 

The last time I watched the weekend shenanigans of my mutuals online, there was not a single mask in sight, and I am terrified.

Away from all this though, I’m actually quite unsure if I even have a sense of personal style anymore. What do I like? What’s in and what’s not? I mean, I’ve only just barely cared about that before, but trends were something of a compass for me: a way to see what everyone else was doing and how I could make that my own. Now I am lost in the wilderness and have no idea where to begin because we’ve all been in pyjamas and loungewear for most of the year. 

In a way, this feels like an opportunity to rediscover and redefine things for myself. Like, why did I fall in love with clothing in the first place? What is my personal style? How do I relate to fashion now that I am older and (debatably) wiser? And what is it inside of me that I want to express in what I wear and how I wear it? 

The idea seems daunting. And, like, it really can’t be that serious, just put on a dress and go, right? But it’s not that simple for me. And I guess if there was ever a time to figure out why, this is it. 

Guest post by Nkosazana Heshu

Comments

  1. Great article, and impressive writing. Also very relevant, I love it.

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