As we navigate the unparalleled upheaval unleashed by the current global coronavirus pandemic and with no clear idea right now of when things might get back to normal, and indeed what the ‘new normal’ might look like, what to wear is likely not at the forefront of most of our minds right now. Protecting ourselves and others, staying at home and trying to remain sane, healthy and solvent as we move through unsettling times have become far more pressing issues than what we are choosing to put on in the morning. That’s not to say fashion is any less important or relevant as an entity. From the many brands small and large, coming together to do good from providing masks and PPE equipment to individuals and organizations making donations to the cause as well as a growing discussion accelerated by the crisis on how fashion can evolve and do better on all fronts, there’s a lot to feel hopeful about. Green shoots in the depth of the forest; glimmers of light in the darkness.
This general idea of hope coupled with all the extra time on our hands at home, can also be the perfect time to reflect on what makes us truly happy about fashion; our own sartorial happiness index if you like. And yes, that can mean clearing out our wardrobes and rediscovering pieces we love or embracing the idea of donning a pair of favourite earrings for a Zoom work call or putting on a dress on Saturday night to virtually socialise with our friends. But in the deeper sense it can also mean taking time to really hone in on what makes us feel truly happy. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to a book on audible by Mo Gawdat called ‘Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy’. Written after Mo, a tech guru and former chief business officer at Google X, suffered the unimaginable loss of his 21-year-old son Ali, it’s a brilliantly inspiring philosophical and scientific study of how to be happy. One idea he puts forward that really struck a nerve with me was that when our expectations of an event or action does not match up to reality, this can cause unhappiness and dissatisfaction. So, if we take this idea and pivot it into our wardrobes, it might mean that while looking at how others dress on IG or at images in glossy magazines can genuinely inspire and uplift, they can also sometimes make us feel we’re not doing it ‘right’. So, taking this advice on board could mean we genuinely start dressing for ourselves rather than others. Wear what makes us feel good and thus become more authentic versions of ourselves and, in the process, both feel happier and telegraph that feeling to others. This is not necessarily about shopping less but when we do, as well as considering more sustainable choices and generally being more mindful, allow our individual personalities and tastes to take center stage rather than being the supporting act.
So, as an example in the here and now, I’ve personally realised that colour is something I am yearning more of right now. I spotted a woman in the grocery line the other day wearing a beautiful cornflower blue sweater and after noticing how happy it made me feel, I have subsequently tried to wear something colourful every day. From a yellow polka dot scarf for my daily dog walk/exercise to a favourite duo of lilac and pink men’s style shirts I put on while I am working from home mode. I’ve also re-discovered the power of putting on something swishy to lift my mood like a much-loved Simone Rocha tulle skirt and a leopard print Ganni dress that gently bounces when I walk. And in terms of what this might mean on the other side there’s a bright pink pencil skirt from Jacquemus that have a strong feeling will end up in my wardrobe and a pistachio green shirt from Stella McCartney which is also calling my name, and on the swish factor front a Comme Des Garcons navy and white polka dot skirt that may well end up joining them. These are my current personal happiness index touch points but yours of course will be different; the takeaway factor being to embrace fashion that truly makes you feel good both in the immediate and beyond.