No Holds Barred: Competing in “Normal Society”

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"I can't complete in normal society. I'm miserable so I might as well be comfortable!"

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of “battleground” states, I even live in one (Arizona).  But it’s not the politics I am struggling with; it is how everyone actually looks so battered and beaten after 7 months of isolation.

Admittedly, I have aged 100 years by staying at home and not caring about face serums, daily step counts, monthly haircuts or even $250 sweatpants. Others have acquired the “quarantine 15” and now cannot wear narrow dress shirts, tight jeans, and forget shoes of any kind.

I never knew what “WFH” meant (working from home) and now it is a marketing label for clothing lines and a whole lifestyle.  It appeals to people who are transitioning from Zoom appearances to real office locations. But there are a lot of us who are just LFH (living from home) and frankly we look and feel horrible. Covid has cancelled out our “need to get dressed.” We have lost our “decent appearance mojo” and now have nowhere to go other than doctor appointments and the drug store.

This is not about fashion or style or ordering clothes online as amusement. This is about maintaining our self-esteem. Getting dressed (and I’m not talking about formal suits and ties and wrap around jersey dresses and stilettos) is a “use it or lose it” fact of life.  For some, it is a ritualistic “practice” of “keeping it together” in the most basic way (along with brushing your teeth and washing your face).  Putting on real clothes is a reminder that you’re are still here, functioning, and at least you are out of bed.

I have seen some awful NYC examples in the recent pandemic photos of men looking like rumpled meatballs in huge shirts and balloon athletic pants.  Men have definitely lost their way the most.  Maybe lack of social reflection and connection has affected them more than women who rely on the black and white standard uniform of tights and tank tops (and everyone is in sneakers).  All these people in athletic gear makes me think there are a lot of “stealth” gyms open in NYC.  There are at least private Pilates classes going on with trainers seeing clients in their living room or in apartment garden areas (good for them).  No one can tolerate Zoom exercise anymore.

But I know some women have told me they have now taken a turn — no more sweat lounge outfits all day.  Covid couture will not be a long-term look and neither will masks no matter how hard online influencers try to market that.  Most women are not even shopping online (outside of household staples) but they are “auditioning” their own clothes from their already overstocked closets.  They are keeping more than they are giving away.

The street outfit-of-choice for most men and women are a decent pair of jeans and a good quality shirt or an ironed t-shirt.  No hefty bag sizings here. Fit still matters after seven months of letting it all hang out.

Most women have given up on makeup but not face creams, and one pal got her mouth surgically “restructured” (not injected).  Apparently plastic surgery is booming during Covid with most surgeries being done efficiently in sanitized offices and not hospitals.  I can see where Covid depression could wreck a face — sad sagging eyes and downturned mouths.  But I didn’t think you had to resort to surgery to give yourself a lift. GET DRESSED instead!!

If Covid couture is only about shapeless clothes, we are in trouble. If it is about decent fitting “comfort” we have a shot.  Expandable waistbands are dangerous, but let’s face it — there is no going back to zip-up and button-in!  Elastic waists are now the norm.  Some bellies can no longer get stuffed and tucked.  And most Spanx constriction underwear can cause an ER visit.  The lean and mean suit-up silhouette for both men and women may have now sunk in the polls.

After all, rappers and skateboarders have had the biggest influence in style with their huge t-shirts and oversized cargo pants.  But that look is for anyone below the age of 40.  Once you walk around looking like that at 50, you have definitely become as lost as “George Costanza” in sweatpants.  There is a famous scene between Seinfeld and George where Seinfeld accuses George of “giving up” completely in life by wearing his sweatpants everywhere.  Even Seinfeld infers “you have to draw the line.” Or at least definitely draw up your baggy waist tie tighter.

We used to think that “clothes make the man” (or woman) but that era has morphed into a huge lifestyle descent.  Like all of life today we simply don’t know where we are headed, and so “effortless chic” has become plain slobbiness.

One thing I do know: I have never seen my 98-year-old mom in pajamas (unless she was sick).  Every day she gets up and gets dressed in a decent shirt and yes, loose fitting pants.  But no sweats.  She also wears red lipstick and earrings are a must (jewelry and some accessories are making a shy re-appearance for the LFH crowd).  It is her way of showing up for the day with some self-respect.  And this is her sheltering-in-place solitary style of living.

Best dressed 98-year-old, Audrey Sabol.

Let’s hope this semi-permanent at-home chapter of our lives is soon over.  But it may not be for another 18 months so we can’t let this visual schlubbiness contaminate our visuals.  Even our dogs now look better than us as they are all back to their groomers and have always known how to handle “home-to-street” transitions.

Speaking of groomers I think the most important political aspect of Covid was the rise of the importance of hairdressers.  They became the warriors on the controversial “re-opening” front.  One Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was arrested and jailed for opening her salon too early and she is now running for Texas Senator.  My own hairdresser doubled his business by adding at-home visits as well as getting his own private room in a salon.  Haircuts and dye jobs (along with Manis and Pedis) became one of the most popular Covid business stories … and so now we have Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi getting her hair blown out in her neighborhood CLOSED salon.  I actually don’t blame her for the maskless blow-out whoops.

My hairdresser Adilson Pascui arriving for housecalls.

In fact, we have all been there in the last seven months bribing our hairstylists to meet us anywhere (curbside or a garage) to “do the deed” — it was like a drug deal.

In fact – up to now, I have to hand it to Nancy. Not for her politics, but for wearing a different high-colored fitted suit every day with a matching mask!  And how about her teetering around on those 6-inch stiletto heels … at 80 years old!  This woman is highly coordinated and coiffed in Covid 19.  However, throwing the hair salon owner under the “set-up” bus was seriously unconscious.  And that video of her walking through the salon with her wet head, salon robe, high heels and mask around her neck will become one of the Covid era videos of all time.

One for the ages.

Getting her blow-out in these perilous times shows you the political difference between men and women.  Pelosi’s was an illicit blow-out, while DC Mayor Marion Barry was videotaped and arrested in 1990 for snorting blow in a hotel room. And let’s not forget Bill Clinton’s taking an impeachment “blow” from Monica Lewinsky in the White House in 1998!

Just Say No … to Blow.

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