News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim

|| 18 March 2020

Personal Style in the Time of Social Distancing

image: Anne conscious of personal style even when mowing the back yard behind the privacy fence.

woman in green shirt and slacks mowing the lawn

As I have often reminded you in the Chic & Slim books and website articles, personal style tells others who we are and what we are about. Washington Post Fashion Critic Robin Givhan recently posed the question of what happens to our personal style messages when we are following the social distancing orders for staying home during the coronavirus crisis.

Her message seems applicable not only to those who now are working from home (and those of us who always work at home), but also for those who are limiting their attendance at religious and organizational functions, social occasions, shopping, travel — all activities outside our homes.

Robin Givhan’s column is titled: Our clothes tell our story. What happens when the narrative is just pajamas and sweats? Below I have summarized important points.

The public square has shut down. Employees are banned from their workplaces. Schools are closed. And we’ve lost a little bit of ourselves.

An essential part of our identity is rooted in how we relate to the people around us, how we situate ourselves within the social hierarchy. We dress to tell a story about ourselves, and if there is no one there to hear our narrative, we’ve been put on mute — turned into mere ectoplasm in pajamas.

For anyone who works outside the home, dressing for the office means slipping into an ensemble that identifies one’s place in the social order. Reminders of connectivity.

To work from home and never take off your pajamas can, at first, feel like a kind of liberation. But going through an entire day in loungewear, it is easy to lose yourself and your sense of purpose and focus.

Fashion is a form of communication that is both intimate and aloof. Without ever uttering a word, you stand behind your message because you are, in fact, wearing it.

When we can no longer find a reason to consider our attire, we go silent. And our story, in all of its nuance, grandeur and humanity, goes untold.

So as we isolate ourselves at home, our clothes can be our pep talk. As we scurry along the street, dutiful in our social distancing, our clothes become reminders that at some point we will speak to each other again.

Read the Robin Givhan column.

The Washington Post strictly limits access to their articles — though they are currently making their Coronavirus Coverage free to all. But I do not believe this column is included in that free access. If you have difficulty accessing the Robin Givhan article, one possible low-cost option is the Post’s 4 weeks for $1 digital subscription which allows reading online (or with the Washington Post app) all the articles you desire for those four weeks. A link to all the Post’s various Subscription offers is found on the newspaper’s Main Page.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone