I learned interesting things about my personal style last year, and some of them surprised me. As is true for many people, the realities of the pandemic affected my style and wardrobe. Some of the changes I made will have a lasting impact, because I think they are for the better. 

1. Enclothed Cognition is Real

Enclothed cognition relates to the psychological effect that clothing has on the way a person thinks, feels, and functions. Despite working from home, and staying home for most of 2020 and into 2021, I continue to dress in my usual dressy way (with fashion sneakers) because it makes a huge positive difference to my state of mind. The process and end result of my daily dressing routine is a coping mechanism of sorts, and it works well for me. I style my hair, wear pearls, choose a fun outfit, and apply a little make-up every single day. The result makes me more productive when I work, and the routine creates a sense of normality, discipline and structure that I crave. Dressing up keeps me hopeful, and is something I look forward to amidst all the stress. It’s also the one part of my life that I can fully control, giving me a sense of calm and accomplishment.

My style has been especially colourful lately because my signature brights energize me, and make me happy. I’m pattern mixing more because that’s what my style mood calls for on this leg of my style journey. Creating harmony and visual peace with all sorts of clashing colours and fighting patterns is making me more creative with my outfits, and keeping things challenging in a playful way. More symbolically, it’s my way of trying to create peace and calm in our turbulent world. You can see some of my outfits on my Lookfab Blog.

2. No More Professional Manicures and Pedicures

I bat for Team Naked Nails, which means no nail polish. Sometimes, I’d pop clear varnish onto my nails because I like the shine. Pre-COVID, I would have a basic manicure and pedicure every few months because I liked the results. But since going without for a year, I haven’t missed them one bit. I now do my own very basic manicures and pedicures at home every few weeks, and my hands look better than ever. There are fewer hangnails, and my hands are extra clean and moisturized. My feet feel and look pretty good too.

3. Fashion Sneakers Forever

I don’t wear athletic sneakers, but have a large assortment of fashion sneakers because they keep my feet happy. Most of my life is on foot, which means zero tolerance for shoe discomfort. That’s why fashion sneakers make up the bulk of my footwear capsule these days. I have worn fashion sneakers almost exclusively since the pandemic started, and I think that will continue when we reach a new normal. I would like to relax my own rule of “no sneakers when working with clients” at least some of the time. I hope to look adequately professional with the right sneakers.

4. No More Tinted Moisturizer

2020 was my year for skin irritations and allergies. It was one thing after the next, and one treatment after the other. As a result, I had to stop using EVERYTHING on my skin apart from Pimecrolimus cream, one other lotion, and Vanicream moisturizer. I thought I would miss the tinted moisturizer because it evened out the appearance of my fifty-year-old skin. But actually, my skin looks healthier and more dewy without it. Batting for Team Naked Skin is quite unexpected, and I’m surprised at how much I like it. l’ve learned that for my skin, less is more, which also shortens my morning grooming routine. I hope to safely add back a sunscreen though.

5. Dressy Pants For The Win

I thought I would wear my jeans more than pants because life was and continues to be more casual and restricted. But actually, the opposite holds true. I continue to reach for my dressier pants more frequently than jeans because I’m in the mood for the patterns, colours, and luxe fabric. My pants are also more comfortable than jeans. I guess that dressier pants have become part of my signature style, and these are the workhorses.

6. Less Lipstick

I love light-coloured lipstick and wore it daily pre-COVID. It added shine, polish, and a bit of depth to my outfit. But lipstick doesn’t work well with a mask, and I feel odd wearing it to work from home. So I’ve left it off since March, using lip balm instead. I haven’t missed lipstick, so I plan to wear it less in future.

7. Handbags Are Very Important

I am besotted with handbags, and have a large collection that has taken me decades to refine. My satchels are dressy but can be worn as crossbody bags, which is the only type of bag I wear these days. Although I work from home, I am out on foot several times a day. Since the pandemic, I carry a few extra things in my bag, like hand sanitizer, wipes, an eyeglasses case, and sometimes a second mask. I need my stash with me as soon as I leave the front door just in case something happens. This has made my handbag collection even more important, and I never step outside without one. I swap them out regularly and continue to create accessory and footwear complements with them.

These were my winners in 2020, with a few guitar straps to match.

8. Practical Hair

With COVID restrictions in place, I couldn’t have my hair cut and highlighted as regularly as I usually do, which is not ideal for short hair that is normally cut every six weeks. It was annoying at times, especially since I rely quite a lot on my hair and eyewear to make me feel fab in my outfit. But of course, it’s not important in the big scheme of things, and I got my hair done when it was possible. As our cold, rainy and windy weather set in, and since I’m often out in the elements, I found my longer short hair problematic when wearing a mask, beanie and specs. So I cut it very short and call it my COVID pixie. The style is a LOT more practical in our weather, is an easy wash-and-go in the mornings, plus I don’t need to have it cut as frequently. I will grow out my fringe again post-COVID.

9. Mismatched Masks

I bat for Team Matchy-Matchy, and thought I would go to great lengths to match my masks to my outfits. But this was, and still is, not the case. Instead I kept the vibe clinical and wear the same six masks with everything. I chose six neutral re-usable masks that are low contrast to my skin tone and left it at that. I altered the masks to fit and insert a filter for extra protection. Sometimes I wear a white medical mask.

10. Appreciating My Wardrobe

As trivial as it sounds amidst the hardship and tragedy of the global pandemic, my wardrobe continues to spark joy, and I thoroughly enjoy my style. After an early morning workout at home in yoga clothes, I look forward to putting on my regular outfit, and I feel good in it all day. My dressier looks are very comfortable and practical, and I don’t feel precious or constricted in them. I go about my day with ease and forget what I’m wearing.

I am spoiled for choice. I am very grateful to have a fab-for-me fully functional wardrobe that goes the distance. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving, and I appreciate that more now than ever. A special shout-out to these coats and jackets that do the job, and are wardrobe workhorses. Some of them are golden oldies and still going strong after many years.

It has been ten months since the pandemic started to affect our lives. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, with multiple vaccines and distribution underway. I’m hopeful that life will be somewhat normalized by the end of the year. In the meantime, we have to hold on a little longer, making the most of a restricted life, and helping others where we can. Onward we go.