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Lessons From An ‘Outfit of the Day’ Challenge

When March 2020 hit, I, like so many other students around the world, was catapulted into a world of blue light and Zoom links. The first few weeks of online learning were barely manageable but it was just the tail end of the year. What was truly the difficult part was the first semester of this school year, the longest four months I had ever experienced. I barely woke up for classes and when I did, I was only able to stay awake for a few minutes. Leaving my room was nearly impossible, there were too many cups on my bedside table to count and I only wore pyjamas. In general, I felt unmotivated and exhausted which resulted in subpar assignments throughout the semester. 

To combat this overall drained attitude, going into my second semester of school, I decided to give myself a mindset makeover. I recognized that part of the reason I found it so hard to focus and truly enjoy my schoolwork was because I didn’t compartmentalize my life. My relaxing space and my workspace were intertwined, almost overlapping, which didn’t allow me to properly go about my days. Because everything was tangled, it was challenging for me to differentiate between times to focus and work and times to rest. And that is when I came up with the plan, the simple fix that would get me ready for a semester of productivity. I decided to get dressed every day…and document it. 

By getting dressed and posting a story to my Instagram, I was held accountable and forced to follow through with the challenge every day that I had class. Monday to Thursday I would get up in time for class, pick out an outfit and snap a photo for my story. After three months of this “outfit of the day” challenge, I learned far more than I thought possible.

Goals aren’t what you need, habits are.

Self-help and personal improvement books preach about setting goals and striving to achieve them. However, goals are hard to stick to if you don’t have a structure on how to achieve them; this is where habits come in. Making a habit out of eating a fruit platter every morning for breakfast will help you achieve the goal of having a healthier diet. So, I decided to make a habit out of getting dressed. Soon enough, it was part of my routine, I even felt odd if I was still in my pyjamas past 11 a.m. I began to enjoy doing my morning skincare, listening to music and throwing on whatever clothing I felt would suit my day. Establishing a habit and then a routine, made me feel like I had control and allowed me to be more organized for Zoom classes.

Workspace isn’t just physical, it’s mental

Getting dressed every day didn’t just make me feel physically ready for work, but it allowed me to mentally clock into work hours whenever I was out of pyjamas. One of the most common symptoms of working from home is tending to exhaust yourself because of the inability to separate work from rest. Since my computer was a few metres from where my bed was, I always thought I should be working, even at times where I had every right to relax. Though I had made physical differences between my two spaces by making sure to always do my work at a desk and watch Netflix from my bed, doing the “outfit of the day” facilitated the creation for my mental spaces. I knew it was time to buckle down and get to work when I was dressed and I knew it was okay to unwind and get ready for bed as soon as the PJs were slipped on. Having both mental spaces made for more appropriate studying times so that I wasn’t overworking myself.

You have more clothing than you think you do

What I hadn’t thought this routine would grant me was the opportunity to truly wear every piece I owned. Since the pandemic started, my clothing had been sitting in the closet, collecting dust but by getting dressed every day I was able to wear everything that had missed being worn. To get the full experience, I sometimes found myself planning outfits ahead of time and soon realized that I was wearing pretty much everything I owned. More often than not, we grab our favourite pieces and leave countless others to be pushed to the back of the closet, yet when the time comes to do cleanouts we can’t seem to let those under-worn pieces go. In turn, this routine ensured that I wore and appreciated all the clothing I own, giving me the chance to really explore my fashion style with the variety of garments I have. 

What started as a simple idea to stay motivated became a journey of self-expression and personal connections. I learnt how to take several different pieces and put them together in an outfit that could communicate my feelings better than words could. Through social media, I made more connections with followers and acquaintances, even finding my self-esteem increasing as I received genuine compliments from people I had once been intimidated to speak to. I had fun playing with different weekly themes to spruce up my stories, adding songs to fit the mood or colour palette filters to capture specific hues. Being told that my daily outfit posts were something my Instagram mutuals looked forward to, made me look forward to posting! Though I don’t see myself continuing the challenge, I will continue to practice the routine. In times like these, simple things can turn into the most gratifying learning experiences and I hope to stumble into a few more along the way.

I'm Sam and I'm a Media Production student minoring in Global Politics at RU! You can usually catch me thrifting, running or buying too many books. I love to over analyze films and write about them.
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