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 original intent of the article was to highlight our shared experience of dressing down during this global pandemic. Still, when I read it, I thought about people with disabilities, and our shared experience of well-meaning therapists and doctors suggesting, “wear sweats it’ll make dressing easier.” The argument for ditching “normal” clothes for sweats is well-intentioned. However, it implies that people with disabilities should not be concerned about fashionable clothing. And that injured people wearing assistive technology like braces or casts shouldn’t be concerned about being stylish while injured because soon enough they’ll be able to get back to wearing their “normal” clothes.
Other themes I noticed while reading were:
- 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, The premise of the series is simple, I share what I’m reading, watching, listening to, and I how it resonates with me as a woman with a disability and a disability fashion stylist. I refer to it as a bite-sized podcast since each episode is 10 minutes or less. I hope you’ll subscribe and join the conversation.