When I started working from home eight years ago, I immediately chose to ignore one very common piece of advice : Get dressed up every day as though you're going into an office . I opted for comfort instead: My workday wardrobe was a collection of baggy sweats. The crazy thing is, I've always loved fashion and being stylish—but dressing up just to be home in front of my laptop? Well, that never really appealed to me.
Luckily, I was able to scratch my style itch on weekends and when I went to work events. I looked forward to the process of putting together an outfit for an event almost as much as I looked forward to the event itself. I loved dressing for the occasion: A romantic dress for a wedding, an edgy outfit for a night out in a trendy neighborhood, a polished ensemble for a professional happy hour, an elevated casual vibe for a day of wandering the city, an athletic-inspired look for a sporting event. Style has always been a way for me to exercise my creativity—but working from home just never seemed like an occasion worthy of that creativity.
But then I became a mom and those outings became few and far in between. There were many days in my first year of motherhood when I stood in front of my closet, looked at my clothes and felt like I could barely remember the woman who had reasons to wear them. When I did have a reason to dress up—a date night, a holiday dinner, a nice Mother's Day brunch—I realized how much I felt like my old self, and how important that feeling was.
And then came the pandemic... and those outings went from scarce to nonexistent. I've chosen to isolate as much as possible, which means no restaurants, no indoor social gatherings, no parties, no real reasons to open up the part of my wardrobe that houses the clothes I used to wear. It's an incredibly small price to pay in light of what's going on in the world, and I am more than happy to stay physically distanced and at home to slow the spread of this awful virus—but I'm giving myself permission to miss that fashionable person I used to be. I'm allowing myself grace when I look in the mirror and barely recognize myself.
But I'm also slowly finding ways to incorporate that love of fashion into my new normal.
Sometimes that means I change out of my at-home leggings into a favorite pair of jeans before taking a simple family walk.
Sometimes that means swapping my glasses for contact lenses before going for a drive, which feels kind of silly but also really nice.
Sometimes it means wearing a simple T-shirt dress just to hang out at home—it still feels super comfortable and easy, yet a bit more special than my standard leggings-and-sweatshirt uniform.
Having a social life that currently consists of working from home, taking my kids to the park and the occasional virtual hangout with friends doesn't seem glamorous. And, if we're being honest, it's not.
But getting dressed up for an at-home date night takes me back to eight years ago, when I first met my now-husband and carefully chose the outfit I'd wear out to dinner with him. It doesn't even matter that I'm ready to change into pajamas as soon as I've eaten my dinner—primping for a date night makes me feel like life is still exciting even if we aren't going anywhere.
Selecting a cute top for a Zoom call with friends reminds me of when I'd spend long nights out with them every weekend—with no need to run home early to relieve the babysitter. And when I choose to step up my style game just to take my kids apple picking, I realize that I choose cute outfits for them every single day , whether we have plans or not. And I wonder: Why does it feel so pointless when I show myself that same level of care?
In the grand scheme of things, the fact that I (and so many other mamas out there) miss being stylish doesn't seem like a huge deal. But we also need to remember that as mamas, particularly as mamas who are mothering through a pandemic, we need to hold on to things that bring us tiny bursts of joy.
So let's embrace getting dressed up for "no real reason", whether that means investing in a fashion-forward loungewear set, buying a beautiful face mask (it's the new accessory!) or digging back into the closet for a piece from our pre-baby lives. Maybe it even means getting all done up for a family photoshoot (either by a professional photographer or a friend who is willing to take some pictures in exchange for reciprocation).
We joke a lot about the "mom uniform" of black leggings and old T-shirts—but you're not just a mom, mama and your outfits can reflect that if you so choose. And for me, that choice involves reframing my thoughts and looking at the simple moments of motherhood as special occasions worthy of special fashion choices. Because while this phase of motherhood feels like it'll never end at times, I also realize how fleeting and extraordinary it is. Maybe I've had it wrong all this time. Maybe right now is the perfect time to dress for the occasion.