Post-Lockdown: What to Wear?

When I was recently out running socially distanced, masked, heavily hand sanitized errands, I was delighted when a store clerk asked, “Well aren’t we dressed up for shopping. Special occasion?”

I wasn’t fishing for a compliment, but thanks to Covid-19 and so many months of only going out for essential errands, I hadn’t received a compliment on an outfit in ages. What a thrill!

But in a senior’s moment, I had to take a look down to remind myself of what I was wearing. Everything was as I remembered it: a plain black t-shirt, plain black jeans, a jean jacket and a favourite pair of Chelsea boots.

I admit that I did give it about 15 seconds of thought when I chose the pieces, but it wasn’t so much in an effort to make a fashion statement as it was more of a strategic move to prevent the accidental mixing of a dark navy blue t-shirt with black jeans. One never knows when the fashion police might be lurking.

I replied jokingly (but deep down, quite seriously), “After being in lockdown for so long, it’s just such a thrill to be wearing clothes again instead of sweats. Going out for any reason is a special occasion!”

She chuckled and added, “It’s the fact that you coordinated your black mask with the rest of what you are wearing that ties it all together.”

I thanked her for the compliment and I let her kind words sink in for a while.

Truly, I did not give the outfit too much thought, but I am glad that it seemed to strike a note of appreciation with someone. But I will admit that at this stage of the pandemic, I am pulled in many different directions when it comes to deciding what to wear.

On the one hand, after history repeating itself, our generation’s Covid-19 to our great grandparents’ Spanish Flu, I wonder if we will be living our own Roaring 20’s with outfits that look like scenes from the movie “The Great Gatsby”. After a year and a half of sweat pants, I certainly look forward to dressing up again.

But then again, will the comfort of the leisure wear some of us enjoyed for so long be the foundation for a new normal in fashion? Will consumers demand more comfort and more practicality in their wardrobes?

If many office workers continue working from home in some form of flexible work arrangement, will that reset the definitions of “professional” and “business casual” garments?

I am very curious to see what the future holds in fashion (… except for those high-waisted pants I see younger dudes wearing now that would distort my proportions and look atrocious on this compact frame. But if it looks good and they can carry it off, more power to them!)

The added wrinkle (forgive the pun) for me, above and beyond the return to post-pandemic lockdown clothes, is the transition to retirement.

When preparing for our move to the country, I was a little astounded at the number of garments I had to pack. Just the same, it all seemed very logical and justified: we live in a place where temperatures fluctuate from minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter to plus 40 degrees Celsius in summer. That requires a range of warm and cold weather clothing, especially since I was commuting for many years and waiting for buses in very cold winter weather.

Plus, between active summers and sedentary winters, my body weight can fluctuate about 7 pounds over the course of a year. That is just enough to bounce my shirt size from small to medium and then back to small. I also have pants in sizes to account for these fluctuations to ensure that I do not look like I’m wearing a potato sack by the end of summer, or a sausage casing in mid-winter.

I did carry a few extra items as well, to account for those weeks when the weather outside was frightful and clothing might be stained after one wearing due to muddy sidewalks or overabundant road salt.

And of course, there were a few suits, blazers and items needed for more formal occasions.

With four seasons of clothing, in different sizes, for different occasions, it was quite appropriate for my working days, but seems like a lot now, when my ventures outside of the house are so infrequent, and where “dressing for the job you want” is no longer part of my algorithm.

The question is what to keep and what to donate?

Will my more “classic” investment pieces still be acceptable in years to come? Probably.

Can I repurpose what I have to meet my wardrobe needs in retirement? Probably.

I’ve already started editing out the pieces that were looking a little worn. Those were easy.

I then edited out the ones that for whatever reason, rarely got worn through the four seasons of clothing rotations. If I didn’t wear them then, why would I wear them now?

I’ve also donated some duplicates. Like seriously, how many pairs of beige khakis does one person need in retirement?

So far, I think Marie Kondo would be proud.

Sadly, I am not aware of any fashion magazines specifically aimed at men of my generation to help me tailor my look. I’ll just have to wing it and trust my intuition for creating the image that I want to convey in this next phase of life.

Just the same, I am very interested to see where fashion will take us next. What will designers send on runways in the upcoming seasons? How will professional attire be altered by hybrid work arrangements? And ultimately, what will consumers of all generations accept and reject after so many months of comfort wear?

Time will tell.

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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