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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

We can still dress up even though we’re stuck at home

Keeping up with a routine can still be meaningful during quarantine  

When schools announced temporary remote instruction due to the coronavirus, millions of students across the country had to adapt to a different lifestyle, one that involved spending all of their time in their homes. There are many new things to consider, among them: To wear pants or not to wear pants?

The highlight of my regular school day happens at around 11 p.m. every night. I stop whatever work I’m doing and watch 20 minutes of Gilmore Girls while I braid my hair and choose my outfit for the next morning. As someone with really long hair, doing intricate braids is exactly the kind of cathartic activity I need before ending the day. I then use the last bit of my remaining brain power to pick out a new outfit and scrounge through jewelry boxes for the best matching earrings. 

There’s something relaxing and reassuring about the mechanical steps of getting ready for classes every morning. I’m no fashionista, but picking out the next day’s outfit is about the most fun thing that I can get done. I like feeling confident and put together. So when California announced a shutdown and universities switched to remote learning, I knew I had to keep my routine even with stay at home orders.

Quarantine is hard and can be burdensome on our mental health. In a matter of days, bustling cities became ghost towns. Even though we can’t go about our usual routines, there are many self-care strategies that can help us cope with quarantine. Activities such as plentiful sleep, physical activity and keeping up a usual routine can provide a sense of stability and normalcy. I thought I would miss the daily thrum of morning activity, but quarantine didn’t mean this had completely come to an end. 

I’ve loved seeing how certain parts of fashion responded and changed to the coronavirus, from silly ideas like the social distancing disc to people showing off glamorous shelter in place outfits on social media. But my favorite has to be The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme kicking off the “#distancebutmakeitfashion” trend. The point is to spend every Sunday scraping together the most stylish outfit to wear at home. 

We might all be confined to our homes, but this doesn’t mean we can’t flaunt marvelous evening dresses and share pictures of our outfits with a “capelet or perhaps a jaunty silk scarf.” If anything, this is the perfect time to put together an outfit that otherwise might have seemed ridiculous and outlandish, but screams “you.”

And then of course, there’s the emergence of face masks as not just a public health provision but as a popular trend gaining traction in fashion. From supermodel Cindy Crawford to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, face masks have become a wider and more popular fashion accessory. When many countries across Africa enforced a policy of compulsory facemasks, fashion designers and fashionistas used this as an opportunity to craft the perfect masks that would match their style.

“When you come out in a stylish mask or with an accessory such as this, it doesn’t seem as though we’re fighting a war. It seems more fun,” said Nigerian fashion designer Sefiya Diejomaoh in an interview with Reuters.

Even for the most resolute of us, quarantine and social distancing is challenging. I miss being able to do basic activities, like doing my homework in the CoHo or going downtown to my favorite bookstore. I also miss being in my apartment in the afternoon when my roommates are out, and belting Taylor Swift while getting dressed. But every night now before I go to sleep, I still watch a bit of Gilmore Girls or the Great British Bake Off while braiding my hair. Instead of walking 30 minutes to campus in the morning, I walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood with my dog. 

Two months ago, our current situation was unfathomable to many of us, and still is today, even as we live through it. In such difficult times, our foremost priority should be taking care of ourselves and those around us in what ways we can. For some, that might mean creating a routine — that kind of a constant can be an enormous help. But that also doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. This isn’t a call to get out of your sweats and wear your favorite outfit, but don’t let quarantine stop you from strutting around in that cute dress you’ve been dying to wear.

Written by: Simran Kalkat — skkalkat@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie


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