Feeling like you’re in a COVID-caused rut? What you put on every morning may have something to do with it. We went to Nicole Chiu-Wang, style expert and previous co-founder of Boon + Gable, a fashion technology startup that connected customers with personal stylists, for advice to break out of your funk and sweatpants at the same time.
What are you wearing right now? What have you been wearing for the last four months of working from home? Have you considered that what you’re wearing while you work from home might be affecting your emotional state - and not in a good way?
When Shelter-in-Place was announced in mid-March, many of us settled in for what we thought might be a month or six weeks max at home. For those working from home, this often meant video meetings and, so began the COVID-19 work-from-home uniform equivalent of a mullet. Instead of “business in the front, party in the back”, this work-from-home uniform consists of comfy yoga pants (or some similar athleisure / pajama pants) on the bottom paired with business casual on the top.
Now, most of us are going on four months working from home and it is starting to take its toll. While your new work uniform sounds like a perk of working from home, it may actually be contributing to your less than sunny mood.
How do I know this? I’ve been working as a personal stylist for almost a decade and have dressed hundreds of people. I founded Boon + Gable, a personal styling and shopping service, to take the pain out of shopping and to give more people access to the help of a personal stylist. Over the 4+ years we operated, Boon + Gable stylists shopped for more than a thousand women and men in the SF Bay Area and New York City. What I’ve learned from helping this many people get dressed is that it’s never really about the clothes - it’s about how the clothes make us feel about ourselves. It’s pretty simple - if you love what you’re wearing, it will help you feel better about yourself.
Here is my list of the top four things you can do to get out of your work-from-home funk and start feeling better about yourself:
1 - Shop your own closet
While it’s tempting to shop all the online sales and purchase yet another pair of stretchy pants, look no further than your own closet to find something to wear that will instantly make you feel more like your pre-pandemic self. Pull out something that used to make you feel your best, that you were saving for a special occasion, or that reminds you of the great times when you wore it in the past. Wear it on your next walk around your neighborhood or your next essentials trip to the grocery store and remind yourself who you were before Shelter-in-Place.
2 - Upgrade your yoga pants
The double-edged sword of yoga pants - they’re so comfy and yet four months in, you may find wearing them around the clock is taking a toll on your self-esteem. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to feel better about yourself when it comes to what you wear on your unseen bottom half during your video meetings. Try splurging on a pair of cashmere joggers - they’re just as comfortable (I’d argue they’re more comfortable) as yoga pants and the cashmere softness is so luxurious. And if you find that cashmere joggers are your new favorite thing, you may want to go all the way and invest in a cashmere jumpsuit or a cashmere hoodie to pair with your joggers. On the other hand, if cashmere makes you itchy, opt for fleece-lined joggers!
3 - Splurge on a silk scarf
In April, every magazine from People to Vogue was touting how to turn your favorite silk scarf into a face mask. YouTube videos abound showing how to DIY a face mask from a silk scarf. Have you always wanted a beautiful silk scarf à la Hermes and the like? Well, now you have two excuses to splurge on a fancy silk scarf - you can spice up your video calls with it tied around your neck (or in your hair) and you can turn it into a super practical yet beautiful face mask!
4 - Dress up for yourself
As we hunker down at home for the rest of 2020 and potentially beyond, you may be planning more socially distanced gatherings with friends - from picnics in the park to front yard happy hours and 6-feet apart walks. Whether you buy something new to wear or shop your own closet, make the proactive choice to dress up and do it for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it and you’ll feel better for doing it.
Despite our desire for 2020 to be over, we have a ways to go. Prioritize your mental health and practice the self care of getting dressed. At a minimum, feeling good in what you’re wearing is definitely going to help your disposition and you may even find that following the tips above is actually fun - which we could all use more of in our lives right now.
So, what are you going to wear tomorrow? Not sure? Shoot me a note!
About the author: Nicole Chiu-Wang previously co-founded Boon + Gable, a fashion technology startup. She now works in Product at Google and continues personal styling clients as her side hustle.