August 15, 2020

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Every day is now casual Friday, so embrace it

Opinion

If you’re among the segment of the population that is fortunate enough to be able work from home during this, the global pandemic of 2020, you’ve probably quickly figured out that there is no dress code at ye olde home office.

Still, fashion and lifestyle sites have been dispensing a lot of advice lately on "dressing for working at home" and "developing your work-from-home style" which, apparently, is not a dishevelled topknot, a South by Southwest T-shirt with a hole in the collar, and sweatpants that say "100% That Bitch" on them.

This advice is well-meaning. If the line between work and bed has become too blurry, or if you’re a person who feels normal wearing jeans (!) around your own home (!), that’s fine. Weird, but fine. Put on some clothes. If you need to pull together a video-conference-call look — business on the top, Superbowl Sunday on the bottom — that’s also fine.

Still, fashion and lifestyle sites have been dispensing a lot of advice lately on “dressing for working at home” and “developing your work–from–home style” which, apparently, is not a dishevelled topknot, a South by Southwest T–shirt with a hole in the collar, and sweatpants that say “100% That Bitch” on them.

But may I make suggestion? Don’t do this. I’d like you share with you, today, the life-changing magic of lowering the bar, especially with respect to how you look. Psst. It’s a pandemic. No one cares.

I can’t colour over the silver threads that now adorn the part in my hair, or get my eyebrows shaped, or the calluses buffed off my feet right now, all services that, in the old world, I paid good money to have done. Now, I spend approximately 10 minutes "getting ready" for another day hunched over a laptop at home.

It’s unexpectedly liberating. I feel like a brain in a jar. I feel unencumbered. I feel free.

Of course, some of this is the novelty of the situation. You will find your personal tolerance for gross pretty quickly. During the first week of social distancing, I leaned into this new work-from-home lifestyle too hard, wearing the same black T-shirt and black sweatpants for too many days in a row. My personal rock bottom: I thought the scent of onions I kept catching a whiff of was the slow cooker before realizing that it was actually my shirt. Change your T-shirt. Maybe crack a window.

Still, outside of the most basic daily routine of brushing teeth and showering — uh, you should still shower — and changing from one set of comfy clothes to a different set of (clean) comfy clothes, I haven’t really put in a ton of "effort" into my appearance. I haven’t worn real pants since March 13. What’s a bra?

Don Campbell / The Herald-Palladium</p><p>If your workplace attire has gone from business suit to baseball cap and sweats, don’t fight it. Comfort is king in these trying times.</p>

Don Campbell / The Herald-Palladium

If your workplace attire has gone from business suit to baseball cap and sweats, don’t fight it. Comfort is king in these trying times.

Sweatpants, in particular, have a bad rap, rehabbed only slightly by the rise of athleisure. Sweatpants, it’s been thought, are the official uniform of giving up. Sweatpants are shorthand for "letting yourself go," which is the biggest sin people, women in particular, can commit. But you know what? Sweatpants are also comfortable.

Now is the time for comfort because — and I don’t know if you’ve noticed — we’re living in a deeply uncomfortable time right now. We need a little softness. You know what your anxiety doesn’t need right now? A restrictive waistband. Do you work somewhere where you normally need to wear a suit and tie every day? Embrace this time of comfort. Embrace sweatpants. Looking good is very low on the ol’ priority list right now. That’s OK.

The other day, and I don’t know which because time has lost all meaning, I reached into my closet to grab yet another pair of black leggings, and felt a little pang looking at all the other clothes, the dresses and the jumpsuits and the blouses, just hanging there, waiting, on hold. I missed, suddenly, putting outfits together and putting on makeup.

I thought it was because I love clothes and a bold lip, but it wasn’t about that, not really. What I was missing was the time before. My life before. I miss getting dressed and going out. I miss people. I miss wearing shoes.

What I was missing was the time before. My life before. I miss getting dressed and going out. I miss people. I miss wearing shoes.

But I’m also looking for shreds of joy where I can find them. I’m relishing focusing on what my brain and body can do versus what it looks like.

I’ve grown used to (and like) my makeupless face, and I’ve loved seeing my friends’ bare faces when we meet over FaceTime. Work colleagues are all seeing little glimpses of each other’s messy, uncurated lives — cherub-faced toddlers interrupting conference calls, everyone’s dogs barking at inopportune times.

There’s a freedom in that collective vulnerability, too.

So wear your sweats. Try growing a beard. Shave your head. Trim your own bangs. Put on a full face of makeup from a YouTube tutorial or wear none at all. If you’re going to be at home, you might as well be comfortable.

Besides, it may not seem like it right now, but one day, hopefully soon, you’ll be back at a desk wearing pants, heating up your lunch in the horrifying office microwave, and remembering that time when you worked from home.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @JenZoratti

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti
Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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