What Am I Gonna Wear?

A few years back, I wrote a blog post called “My Writer’s Uniform” in which I speculated on what I might be wearing in retirement when I would be free from office dress codes and pursuing my life’s purpose in writing. Of course, the pandemic was nowhere on our radar at that time.

In 2020, when we started working from home due to the pandemic, the line between home life and work life quickly blurred. That being the case, I made a point of putting on jeans during working hours. When I was off the clock, I could relax and cozy up in my comfortable sweat pants and sweat shirts. In my mind, this helped with the boundary setting between work and home.

In 2021 when I retired, it came as no surprise that the sweats became the default outfit. After 33 years of getting dressed for work, I appreciated the break from the pressure of putting on the office “armour.” However, when I was making public appearances like in-person appointments or running errands, I was more than happy to build a comfortable outfit around my favourite jeans.

But it was early in 2022, when I knew it was time to put my nose to the grindstone and answer life’s calling in writing that the wardrobe question came up again. With this next phase in life just beginning, I could not imagine spending the next 30, 40 or 50 years in sweat pants. There had to be a happy medium.

As I was waking up one morning, I looked over at the sweat pant and sweat shirt ensemble I had hung on the door handle in preparation for that day. I asked myself, “Does this outfit really make me feel more creative?”

As much as an inspiring studio space, the right lighting, a comfy supportive chair and the right background music (or silence) can contribute to making a writing session flow better, why can’t an outfit that puts you in a creative mood be an equally important part of the equation?

I hear that sweats and pyjamas are comfortable favourites for many writers. But to me, as the old saying goes, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you must.”

I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just suggesting that maybe I am the weird one.

Here is my logic: For years, I’ve known that in retirement, my business and my second career would revolve around writing. But in sweatpants, I did not feel like I was dressed for business. To truly honor my business, I felt I needed to put a little bit more effort into my daily wardrobe.

To be clear, I don’t mean dressed up every day to the point of pressed shirts, blazers, ties and dress pants, much like I did in my earlier years at the office.

To do justice to my calling and my life’s work, I needed a “writer’s uniform” that sends a message to the brain that I have a purpose and something I need and want to accomplish.

If the sacred space and right conditions can have a psychological effect on our performance as writers, why shouldn’t I feel justified in piecing together a wardrobe that helps me put my best foot forward?

But where to start?

Instinctively, I knew that I enjoyed smart yet comfortable, casual clothes, the ones I would wear on the weekend for date nights with my partner, to hang out with friends or to go anywhere I’d be in public and wouldn’t want to be stopped by the fashion police.

I took advantage of the opportunity to curate the wardrobe I’ve always wanted, that truly represents me. This isn’t to say that my office wardrobe wasn’t me, it was just a different me. The artist, the blogger and the screenwriter version of me has a different fashion sense and sensibility.

That being the case, I have been combing through my wardrobe gradually, piece by piece. Several pieces I have kept and integrated into the new wardrobe. But some items had a triggering effect, reminding me of stressful days handling concurrent urgent requests from senior management. Not surprisingly, several of those have been donated.

Also, easy-care is now the name of the game. My love-hate relationship with irons is officially over. Anything that requires an iron has been banished. Life is too short for clothes that wrinkle.

Between the discards and the surfacing preferences, a few gaps in my wardrobe emerged. I started shopping for clothes again, but not like I used to.

I now find myself looking for efficiency: simple, basic pieces that mix and match effortlessly, that are built to last. For some reason, I seem to be gravitating back to my favourite neutral, basic black, as I did back in the late 80’s when my writer’s voice first started expressing itself. I also felt a renewed interest in mixing and matching separates and accessories, neutrals and colours, carefully gauging what combinations felt most empowering and energizing.

Even though I don’t spend a lot of time planning my wardrobe, I often look forward to the next day’s outfit du jour.

Let’s face it, when I am deeply in the writing bubble, it really doesn’t matter what I am wearing. I wouldn’t draw a straight line between wardrobe choices and becoming a better writer, but if the right outfit helps put me in a frame of mind to feel inspired, to get to the computer, to let the ideas flow, and to potentially stay there longer, then how can it be a bad thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my sweats. They serve a purpose and will always hold a place of honour. I couldn’t imagine my rituals of rest and relaxation without them. They are an essential part of cozying up on the couch with the cat to savour a cup of tea and a good book on a winter’s day.

Similarly, when a nap is in order, there is nothing better than those snuggly comfortable clothes to build that cocoon of comfort.

To me, it’s when an active writing session is over that sweat pants, sweat shirts and hoodies are a great reward for a job well done.

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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