THE WFH WARDROBE
How long has it been since we were collectively sent home from the office? Who can remember when the individual days of the week merged into one featureless, never-ending Tuesday so soon after WFH became the status quo. But if it was say, February-ish, it’s been half a year since our kitchen tables became family desk-islands, the passenger seat of the car a conference room for calls that could not be set to a soundtrack of children fighting and on desperate days, the bathroom a break-out space for scrolling Instagram in silence for the few minutes before you were sought out by someone needing a snack, pencil sharpener, band-aid, charger etc.. Etc., etc., etc., literally all the etcs..
As noted at the time, one of the few upsides to a global pandemic was getting to give up proper workwear, anything dry-clean-only and agony around the waist by 11.30a.m, which is to say the majority of workwear if you’re a woman.
There were hashtags, memes, there were newspaper stories about the splendour of nine-to-five sweatpants. And of course, to begin with it was pure joy. But then, at some point, so much fleece began to feel less like a personal choice and more like the inmate uniform of a low-security work prison. We began to long for anything with a waist, a dart, a cuff. And although some of us have, in recent weeks, been allowed to re-enter society/our offices, for others WFH is looking a lot like a sentence without a known release date.
As a writer, I have served 15 years already and like anyone who was already doing it, I have learned the ins and outs of not leaving the house. I know when and what to eat – a proper lunch at lunchtime, not a day-long degustation of crumpets, seaweed crackers, cooking chocolate and the leftover contents of a children’s party bag. I know the vital importance of a morning shower, vs. a bit of a wash. I know that when the suggestion is first put, a day-time social event seems like a treat and that, on the day, you will not have time and feel terrible for cancelling and even worse if you don’t.
As choices, they may seem unrelated but actually they are all made in service of the same goal: keeping your mood up, the hardest and most important part of WFH. Since fashion is the best mood-keeper-up there is, here is what I have learned about dressing for a kitchen desk.
YOU CANNOT GET TWO DAYS OUT OF A TOP
I mean, you can. When you do not go out, use public transport or move amongst people all day, your tee will probably still be good at the end of the day. But what you wear today the way is the only way you know it’s not yesterday, and once you have crossed the two-day threshold, it feels like, why not try for a third? And then it’s Thursday so why not see out the week in this tee? Actually, it’s become so soft, why not sleep in it Thursday night? Because it will be the beginning of an inexorable sartorial slide and, when you try to take it off at the weekend, the fabric will have fused to your underarms and require removal by a medical professional.
WASH YOUR HAIR MORE OFTEN
If you’re actively trying to get depressed, then definitely, cut back on real washes and just dry-shampoo until your hair is a single clump of matter. But if you’re looking to stay out of an emotional trough, wash your hair more often. It’s the quickest, cheapest form of self-care and even if it adds a little bit of time to your morning routine, you make it back on not having to go anywhere ever.
Whereas once, there was such a thing as a coloured load and a white load, you might have noticed that lately, you’re doing more, a single grey wash. For some reason, wearing colour or a print when you are home alone feels unnecessary and effortful, but pulling on something bright is no more work than pulling on something in a sludgy-grey-brown and if it’s just for you, there’s no better reason to wear it.
AND A BRA BETWEEN NINE AND FIVE
Of all the constricting items given up in these times, bras were supposedly the first to go. Like wine and Netflix, bralessness is tempting but ultimately, an unwise choice for day. Not because a woman should wear a bra or because being naked under your shirt feels weird on a Zoom call and, depending on the lighting, may be discernible to everyone else on it. Only because, Liz-Lemoning your bra out one sleeve before pouring yourself a silo of pinot is your chief reward for a day’s graft. Also if your office is also your sofa, underwire or the absence of it is the best demarcation between day and night. Spanx at home, of course not. Heels, why would you? Pants, up to you. But bra? Absolutely.
As discussed, treat to begin with but ultimately all-day-sweatpants are deleterious to wellbeing. Athleisure is a tempting alternative but like actual workwear, it hurts by lunchtime – tight at the waist and weirdly hot behind the knees. The trick is to wear something comfortable but not 100 per cent comfortable during the day and when it’s time to punch out, change into the truly, deliciously comfortable sweatpants that by now, you have totally earned.
ABOUT AUTHOR MEG MASON
Meg Mason began her career at the Financial Times and The Times of London. Her work has since appeared in The Sunday Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sunday Telegraph. She has written humour for The New Yorker and Sunday STYLE, monthly columns for GQ and InsideOut and is now a regular contributor to Vogue, ELLE and marie claire. Her first book Say It Again in a Nice Voice (HarperCollins) was published in 2012. Her second, You Be Mother (HarperCollins) was published in 2017. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.
SORROW AND BLISS
Spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark and tender, full of pathos, fury and wit, Sorrow and Bliss, the latest book by Meg Mason is a dazzling, distinctive novel from a boldly talented writer. For fans of Sally Rooney, Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Fleabag.
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