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Why I’m (Still) Dressing Up in Quarantine

When I first read the email from announcing that spring break was going to be extended for a week due to COVID-19, I didn’t think too much about it. 

The onset of the novel coronavirus had definitely caught my attention at that point, but like many people, I was hopeful that life would be getting back to normal before long. Sooner rather than later, I figured that I’d be walking back into my dorm and settling in to finish out the rest of the semester. I spent most of that week sleeping well past noon, ignoring my homework and existing primarily in leggings and loungewear. 

On a normal, non-quarantine day, I like to wear midi skirts or leather pants, corduroy jackets and cardigans, all with a healthy mix of crop tops and mini dresses thrown in. I like to think of my sense of style as a careful mix of the pseudo-intellectual in your philosophy course and the girl your mother hated in high school. 

Related: Stop Asking Where I’m Going When I’m Dressed Up

Once the probability of returning to campus moved from ‘certain’  to ‘certainly not’, the slump began. My wardrobe began to consist only of my daytime pajamas and my nighttime pajamas, with very little variation in between unless I happened to have a reason to get dressed that day. Keeping the camera off during my online courses only made me less likely to bother trying, and before long, I just…wasn’t. 

Not to sound like Carrie Bradshaw here, but not getting dressed wasn’t just about the clothing–it was evidence of me slowly losing interest in a place that I normally found joy. 

You see, I like getting dressed up. I like playing around in my closet, and I like putting together outfits I didn’t think of before. Clothing, getting dressed and fashion are places where I can be creative, even when I don’t feel like I am.

Once I noticed that my slump was impacting more than just my sartorial choices, I knew that I had to do something. Initially, I just started wearing jeans again. A t-shirt dress here, a denim skirt there. It wasn’t until I saw a slip dress shoved in the back of my closet that I never found a good enough reason to wear that I found myself asking “why not?” 

Related: Why Dressing Up for Class Empowers Me

The reason I had avoided wearing that slip dress, or a pair of velvet high-waisted pants, or a leopard print dress before was that I had nowhere to wear them. Well, now I had nowhere to go at all, so why not wear them now? 

When I wear these pieces now, it’s for my own enjoyment. Sure, I might post a picture of my outfit that day, or ask my mom how I look, but ultimately I’m wearing what I’m wearing because it makes me feel good. There’s something really freeing about wearing pieces that you had saved for special occasions, or convinced yourself are too fancy, or too bright, or too something for you to incorporate into your regular wardrobe.

It might sound ridiculous or even silly to place so much of your mood on your outfit, but if something makes us feel good during this time and isn’t hurting anyone, (looking at you, Floridian beachgoers), maybe we should be silly. 

So do a full face of makeup even if the most daring locale you’re exploring today is your living room. Decorate your island on Animal Crossing. Make Dalgona coffee (or a nice matcha alternative). Bake bread, or read a book or maybe just go outside with your dog. As for me, I’m playing The Sims in a satin skirt and a lace bodysuit, because it makes me happy today.

I truly believe that you shouldn’t have to save your best pieces for your best days. Maybe today is your best day. Or maybe it isn’t. But if you can find a bit of brightness somewhere, you should allow it to shine.

Maya McCallum

George Mason University '20

Maya is a Government International Politics major with a concentration in International Relations. She loves photography, fashion, traveling, the Oxford comma, and finding new music. When she isn’t studying or working, you can either find her ranting about Anne Boleyn, making a new playlist, or drinking boba tea.
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