On March 16th I read an article by Robin Givhan, one of my favorite fashion critics, who has the distinction of being the only fashion critic awarded a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Her article entitled, Our Clothes Tell Our Story, What Happens when the Narrative is just Pajamas and Sweats explores the act of getting dressed in “work” clothes during Safer at Home mandates put in place to slow the spread of COVID 19, which as of today May 6th, according to the John Hopkins Corona Virus Resource Center there are 3,685,129 confirmed cases and 258,051 confirmed deaths.
In this piece, Givhan makes the argument that this new normal put our public-facing personas on trial. It challenged us to let down our guard, remove our face masks (makeup) and switch from our armor (work clothes) to loungewear. It explored how all of this stripping down made us more vulnerable, exposed, and narrative-free.
The article may have been written about our shared experience during this global pandemic, but when I read this article I also thought about the shared experiences of my community, people with disabilities and anyone who’s ever been told by a well-meaning therapist, doctor, or loved one to “just buy sweats it’ll make dressing easier.” Oftentimes the argument for ditching your “normal” clothes for sweats is well-meaning, however, the mere suggestion implies wearing what you love, expressing yourself through fashion while injured, living with arthritis, or living with disabilities is not expected or important. It’s as if the aforementioned are inconveniences, so if you have on a foot brace, leg brace, walking with a crutch etc…people will forgive (understand) your choice in adornment. Also while reading the article three other themes jumped out at me
- Clothing as communication
- Self-esteem and self-efficacy
- Social Order and Community
and by the end of the article, my new COVID 19 podcast series was born. You can listen on Cur8able The Podcast with new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday starting, The premise of the series is simple, I share what I’m reading, watching, listening to and I share how it resonates with me as a woman with a disability and a disability fashion stylist. I hope you’ll subscribe and join the conversation.