“Whatever Works”

     A new year, and the same, maybe worsening, pandemic, vaccination hopes grow muddled, the current president still vilely clings to the job he failed to do. And it’s January.

     To change the subject for a minute, did you see The New Yorker interview with Jenna Lyons who was the influential creative leader of J. Crew in its heyday? I’d been thinking about clothes, and wrote down what she had to say about quarantine dressing:

     “Clothes are transformative, and feeling good can be transformative. … But I’m not one to sit in judgement of someone’s choice to wear sweatpants. I wear them, too. And sometimes that’s comfortable. I also really like getting dressed up to walk the dog sometimes, because it makes me feel good. I’m not doing it because I want a parade. I’m fully game to look slovenly, and I’m fully game to get dressed up. Whatever works.”

     At the beginning of December, I realized I’d been wearing the same sweater and jeans or wool yoga pants for weeks – hadn’t even pulled the winter sweaters out of their summertime storage pillowcase. What did it matter? That same sweater combo works, just the right amount of warm (a bigger sweater over top when needed), but it is deadly boring. In the interview Lyons says nobody sees anything but your shoulders these days, and it’s true, specially here where we swaddle raingear over warm layers – and wear masks.

     The day after the trip to Seattle, our next-door neighbor asked where I’d gone, “all gussied up.” That comment revealed how low is the bar – my neighbor being accustomed to my morning walk outfit, which varies only by a jacket selection that depends on whether no rain, light rain, heavy rain, or cold rain. Or maybe she compared to my “walk carefully on mossy driveway across to the mailbox” ensemble – several layers of sweaters (one very ratty) clutched around myself, with garden clogs completing the look.

     How about you? Do you wear the same functional lockdown clothes? Do you miss seeing people’s clothes at all? (I try to glimpse my daughters-in-law on calls with the grandchildren.) Clothes can delight. For Christmas, I loved it that the Alaskans gave me Elizabeth Holmes’s “HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style” (Elizabeth, Diana, Kate, and Meghan and their clothes). I like to read Vanessa Friedman’s newsletter from the New York Times on Friday, and yes, in the face of other More Important Things, complaints about the discussion of clothes are valid.

But it’s OK to please ourselves – to see something different in the mirror or the Zoom square. Clothes ignored for nearly a year (no special occasions being on offer) – nicer sweaters, ironed blouses, a skirt(!) might provide variety.  

     And at least one person in my orbit has no difficulty changing it up in myriad ways!

6 thoughts on ““Whatever Works”

  1. Love your police in disguise! I haven’t noticed any walkers( including you) in anything but appropriate weather- related stuff, and when on occasion an unusually dressed person appears on the trail, I assume it’s a visitor from some exotic place like Seattle!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I have a little rotation of Home clothes–stretchy pants, mock turtleneck, hoodie, and fleece vest. All well worn (a bit raggedy in some cases) and stained, but clean. For the very few times I go out in public, I have much the same outfit but unstained. For my Zoom classes, I’m unstained from the waist up. This has been my wardrobe strategy even pre-Covid. Where I live just doesn’t lend itself to dressing up. There was a time –fifty years ago–when I loved clothes, and I can still admire various outfits without longing for them.

    • An old friend once said – and a long time ago – dressed up is a newish white t-shirt. And I think what my neighbor called gussied up – a black raincoat and boots – wouldn’t really qualify for that old-fashioned term. But you are right – it is really fun to look – people showing their style!

  3. Such great paintings of the boy in his costumes. I think we could all use a bit of dress-up. I do tend to wear the same pants (yes, I’m ashamed to say they are sweatpants – ugly, but so comfy) and same kind of sweater every day. But when I go out I put on my fancier yoga pants. I love seeing people who do sort of dress up to go shopping here on 23rd Ave. And there are stores with wonderful clothes in the windows. And our granddaughter, like your little policeman, always arrives at our house in the most creative and colorful and sometimes amusing outfits. What a fun post. Thanks!

    • Thank you Carol! I’d sure like to sometimes see something besides all our practicality – “creative, colorful, and sometimes amusing” sounds really good! But, sigh, so does warm!

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