Ever since the world slowed down in the face of Covid-19's domineering outbreak that has forced us into our respective corners, many of us are making diligent efforts to hold on to a sense of normalcy. Although, truthfully speaking, there's nothing normal about any of this.
With social distancing and self-quarantining being the newly prescribed safety measures against exposure to the coronavirus, working from home is now an inevitable solution for those whose daily work duties are able to be carried out remotely.
As a result, there have already been several daily schedule templates that have been shared by freelancers and self-employed individuals on social media to guide those of us who work in cubicles under fluorescent lights from 9am to 5pm (in theory), Monday to Friday (and maybe once on Saturday).
When you're used to Henry Ford's ancient 40-hour, five-day work week, you become a creature of habit - same morning routine, work outfits, lunch at a time you've set for yourself, and a given knock-off time. Until now.
Let me be clear; I'm not complaining. However, I would have preferred good ol' Henry over there granted us one less work day. I've heard it boosts creativity or productivity or something (clears throat).
However, the coronavirus now has capitalism reconsidering its entire model and our overall approach to productivity. Many have also expressed their mental health concerns as isolation can trigger an emotional slump for some. This is why it's important for us to integrate some pick-me-up habits into this indefinite period of solitude.
Of course, the idea of not having to wear a bra, no makeup, no pants, and essentially only dress from the waist-up for Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts meetings, is an exciting one for some. And it might even help make you feel a bit more relaxed while working. Some professionals might even have coordinated lounge wear sets and have satin PJs laid out for the week, and as long as it sparks joy, do your thing and post it on IG too, please - I'm not opposed to seeing a good satin pyjama set on my screen.
But personally, now that I'm no longer a student who looks forward to exam period just so I can indulge in lounge wear from 12 to 12, being sartorially undone does not appeal to me anymore (except when I've been eventing in frocks and heels all week and all I want to wear is a pair of jeans and velcro strap sandals).
Especially while I'm working. Fashion must continue.
Allow me to share my notes with you:
I've mused on the power of mood dressing in a previous W24 article, where I cited Ella Hudson's Party Power report. In this report, she enlightens us about the new mood economy - a phenomenon where brands are capitalising on the feel-good factor, which is not only evident in fashion but in food, film and music too.
So why not apply that to our days under quarantine? We need it now more than ever. I've positioned this as workwear advice, but it will also come in handy when you're FaceTiming friends, family and lovers over the weekend (if you don't live with them).
Speaking of the weekend, the point of this exercise is also to create a distinction between weekends and work days, so while only showering at midday like you would on a Saturday might be tempting at these times, it's better to get up and shower the same way you do when you're heading off to the concrete jungle.
Your couch, desk, full-length mirror and your boss on the other side of your screen during that Zoom meeting, are the best audience you have right now. Show all the way up for them.
And now that the admin's out the way, let's get to the inspo.
I mean, even Kefilwe Mabote approves this message, and she's coined the term "quarantined elegance" for it.
An international magazine whose IG I camp on, The Gentlewoman - a "Fabulous Women’s Magazine", they say - also endorses the advice I'm sharing here, as they provide a "new take on formality" in their 21st issue. What this entails is giving your suits a bit of an edge - a modernisation of corporate finery, if you will.
Of course, you don't have to suit up to go sit at your makeshift work-from-home office - you can cheat the system a bit with a style and grooming guide I've dubbed the FAB Method: Face, Accessories, and Blouse & Bouquet.
There are those who wear a full face of makeup with no intention to leave the house (power to them), and there are those who only ever punctuate their faces with colour when it's absolutely necessary. Let's find a balance.
You don't have to wear foundation in self-isolation, but I would suggest (read: highly recommend) eyeliner, mascara, concealer, and gloss. This will instantly brighten your face, and rid you of that 'just woke up' effect, especially for those cyber meetings. On some days, up the ante with a bold lip colour.
A neutral, fresh, barely there beauty look that you can achieve in less than five minutes.
Sidebar: An updo or slicked back wig-ready cornrows are easy low-maintenance hairstyles that can also give your face a fresh appearance.
Street Style At Dolce & Gabbana Fashion Show, during the Milan Fashion Week, in Milan, Italy, on February 23, 2020. Photo by Nataliya Petrova/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The earrings in the image above have already alluded to my next point - statement accessories. A standout pair of earrings, a thick satin Alice band à la Miuccia Prada Spring 2019, a silk scarf around your neck or braids/dreadlocks ponytail, a brouche, and a neckpiece can all elevate the rest of your otherwise understated, toned down couch office look.
Trust me, this section of the FAB Method is the one you'll probably most easily interpret when you're going to Google Hangout with some colleagues for a pow-wow.
Tiffany Hsu wears a bejeweled earring and a golden necklace, outside Miu Miu, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 on March 03, 2020 in Paris, France. Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Blouse & Bouquet
By blouse, I mean a pretty top that's still aligned with your personal style DNA. It can be a logo Tee or a vintage blouse with a disco collar - your choice. As long as it's something you'd still wear to work anyway. Also, it's your prerogative to put on a well-considered dress every now and then.
And by bouquet, I mean a spritz of fragrance to uplift your mood.
Tamu McPherson is seen wearing Valentino outside the Valentino dress show during Paris Fashion Week SS20 on September 29, 2019 in Paris, France. Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
It may not be me in the pic, but believe me when I say I practice what I preach. And yes, this picture is an accurate representation of how I'm giving my valued shoes a rest since we've been working from home.
IG story screenshot. Writer's own.
Ultimately, you will feel fab whether you realise it now or later. How's that for a quarantine pick-me-up?