Roughly four months of quarantine have passed. How is your pandemic appearance going? Are you dressing for yourself or for others? Has your style evolved over time? And does it even matter?

Like so many others, I have been working remotely since mid-March. In my professional role, I attend several Zoom staff meetings a week, in addition to a modest number of other remote meetings and gatherings. My husband and I have seen a few close family members and a handful of friends at outdoor socially distant encounters.

I try to walk, cycle or swim every day and exercise remotely twice a week. Essentially, we go nowhere: not to restaurants, stores or any place more than a few miles away.

So, how has this pared-down lifestyle affected my appearance? With the exception of three times when I actually had formal webinar speaking roles, I have stopped wearing makeup and blow-drying my hair, not to mention indulging in manicures and pedicures. The only exception is lipstick, which gives me a little lift.

Primarily, like most people I know, I have been dressing for comfort. Many items of clothing in my closet have remained untouched. As for footwear, I began with slippers and moved into flip-flops, though lately I am reviving my sandals. Sneakers rule the day for exercise, of course.

Last week, however, I decided to revive a few summer skirts and dresses. Why? Well, first of all, skirts are very comfortable in the summer. Moreover, I needed a change of pace. Ordinarily I consider skirts and dresses a step up, but perhaps that was exactly the point. I needed to feel a little dressier, just for me.

This past Friday night, I decided to wear a lengthier blue skirt, which made me feel a bit more “shabbasdike,” or in the mood for Shabbat. I also wore a white top and adorned myself with a necklace, a very rare experience in quarantine. It felt good to be donning blue and white for Shabbat as I would have decades ago at Jewish summer camp. I even put a plastic flower in my hair that I purchased for about $2 in Hawaii last year.

So, the question COVID-19 has presented is whether concern for one’s appearance is for oneself or for others. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both. If you are working remotely, are you more productive when you choose to wear clothing that’s a step up from pajamas and slippers?

Most of us have become quite relaxed about our appearances while sheltering in place. This makes perfect sense. However, there are ways in which making even a small symbolic effort to dress for oneself actually lifts you up. After all, don’t you want to look at least presentable as you make fleeting glances at yourself for an hour in your Zoom box at your next team meeting?

It’s probably mentally healthy to maintain some semblance of self-care even if you’re confined to quarters. I have even applied lipstick on occasion when I leave my house and immediately cover my face with a mask.

Is this rational behavior? Not really, but it still makes me feel better.

So, wear a skirt, put on lipstick, wear earrings, spritz on perfume, toss the slippers and accessorize a bit. Trust me, it will lift your spirts and add color to your life—just for yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you’re generally more empowered to embrace others with a positive outlook.

Dressing for a pandemic does matter after all…to a degree.

And we haven’t even touched upon the hair issue, but I’m afraid that’s the subject of a whole other essay.

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