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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Friday, January 22, 2021

Where's your style gone in the pandemic?

 There are many things I wonder about all of us when this thing is all over.

Will some folks discover they are introverts and become agoraphobics  when they are finally allowed to let loose on the streets?

Will people who started to work from home ever go back to the office?

Will we stop baking bread ourselves?

Will we continue to have Zoom meetings with our doctors?

Will we start wearing clothes again for any other reason than they are comfortable?

The last one interests me.

My own style has taken a bit of a turn around in this house.

My daughter and I went shoe shopping last week and I bought something that I wouldn't ever had looked at twice before- these super, super comfortable little boots for walking the dogs. Whenever I put them on (they are Beezies if you are interested) I make a big deal of how completely cozy and comfy they are. 

But not my style at all, you know how elegant I am, with all this fake fur, stitching, and silver heels. 

But things are different these days. All I care about right now is having my feet feel good. Actually all I care about right now is whatever I can do to make any part of me, inside or out, feel good.

What is the pandemic doing to me? Will I ever totter around in heels again? What is happening to me?

I am not the only one. 

I made my daughter, and now by request my son-in-law, multiple bamboo knit sweatshirts this winter. Here is an example of one on my daughter. We love this fabric because it feels so soft and caring on our bodies:

I am also pulling out random fabric from my shelves, of the weird category of "why did I ever buy this" and making sweatshirt type tops to go with my furry booties for dog walking.

Here is some extremely odd quilted knit that I made into a sort of a top with a zipper to the front and I collar I made up. My husband calls it my Star Trek shirt and suggests I add a logo.

I have styled this with my post dog walking hair un-interferred with by things like a hair brush, mirror or haircut, keeping my faith with my decision to show my real life on this blog, as is,

Now this has to end sometime. 

I was lucky enough to be gifted a big pile of old Burda magazines this week. Daisy and I have been going through them and I have enjoyed the complexity of the designs so much. They have awakened my desire to sew more challenging projects again once the great hibernation of 2020-2021 is over.

How about you?

How has Covid affected your style? Short and long term? 

This is on my mind.


Jenny said...

I have a fashion prediction for when this is all over. Styles will swing 180 degrees and woven, fitted clothing will become fashionable.

Pat Gottshalk said...

I disagree with the Star Trek analogy as I am a fan of electric blue. The hemline is great.

Jodie said...

I pretty much agree. I'm a high school Foods Studies teacher with a VERY fashionable admin team. So - I wore dress pants, dresses, low heels etc. to work. Jackets/blazers for meetings. Most made by me and fairly comfortable (got to love a knit dress). And I started off that way in the fall. But that quickly changed. I'm mostly in skinny jeans (Joe Fresh - buy those at the grocery store!) a slouchy top (Hemlock T - love bamboo) and a cardigan, and my blundstone boots. I'm not a fashion plate but I'm comfortable and warm and don't mind as I spray 10% bleach around if things drip on my $20 jeans. So much in my life is not comfortable as I worry for my students and my family I figure jeans every day is the least I can do for myself. I have sewn recently with bamboo french terry - and Barb - I love it too! Made myself a winter nightgown (a long t-shirt) and it's a soft cozy hug at the end of a long day. I have some bigger pieces left, I'm going to try for a P4P cocoon cardigan as I think more warm and cozy will help. Or a sweatshirt....something. I do think/agree with your other commenter that things might swing back to highly structured/high heels once the world moves back to more usual behaviour. But that's at least a year away.

Question for you Barb - how did you find the sleeves of the P4P cocoon cardigan? My classroom is chilly so I want it as a layering piece...easy enough to slide on over a long sleeve knit tee? Or should I check?

Love your blog. Take care and stay well (and as I say to my students every day, "Don't LICK anything"! ; )

JustGail said...

For me, covid didn't have much effect. However, the day I retired in fall 2019, had a huge effect. I pretty much started going out only for supplies (SO tired of 11-12 hour days away from home!), living in knit shorts & T-shirts/tank tops in summer, and sweat pants & sweat shirts in winter. Even when I was working, my "uniform" was pretty casual (jeans/top/comfortable shoes).

JulieJ said...

I have discovered elasticated waistbands and I am NEVER going back to rigid ones again.

I'm really enjoying your new book, Barbara - I got it for a birthday present last week.

Katrina Blanchalle said...

It will be very interesting to see whether this current shift toward comfort and casualness will be permanent, or if, as many people are predicting, we will enter into a new era of formality and elegance (or wild glitz!).

The pandemic has definitely affected my style in the short term - all of my smart casual work clothes have hung untouched in the closet for a year and I have rotated through several pairs of sweats for home and one pair of jeans and a decent top that I sacrifice to the semiweekly bank, pharmacy, or grocery outings. After swearing I would never wear yoga pants, I just bought my first pair and they are so comfortable I don't see how I can wear anything else ever again. My sewing has definitely been focused on at-home comfort clothes. I will soon need an extra closet just for my pajama wardrobe.

Kim said...

I have been going to work physically since last July so things haven't much changed for me. I can wear whatever I want to work and tend toward casual clothes anyway, so still making the same stuff as usual. Wear do you get your bamboo sweat fabric, it looks awesome? I love the blue top. Live long and prosper;)

Michele said...

Never, in my life prior to Covid-19, have I ever owned more than 2 pair of 'sweatpants'at one time. I now have five (Style Arc Brooklynn pants) - and two more on the cutting table, because the ones I made early in the pandemic are now looking winter work wardrobe wasn't even taken out of storage.

Prior to March 2020, two pairs of sweatpants and a couple of hoodies,cardis and tees were enough for 'after work' attire and winter visits to visit my grandkids in Winnipeg required a couple of turtlenecks for layering. A couple of pair of skinny jeans, tunics, shirts and tees for casual weekend outings were all that I needed.

I'm in my mid-60's and still work in a professional capacity for the CEO and board of a healthcare company. Working from home was never, ever something I aspired to. Now, my sewing room is my office from Monday to Friday which is really annoying!

It will be interesting to see what happens after we all go back to being able to work, shop, travel, etc.

AnnetteAK said...

I retired a number of years ago so my style hasn't changed much. Like others comfort is important but I still like to wear clothes that fit my body and mood is a deciding factor.

Today I have on a warm under-layer with a asymmetrical woven top over it and denim trousers.

Anonymous said...

What a timely post! Here in Australia, it is a comfortable wardrobe of t-shirts and light trousers. I am just about to attempt my first elastic waisted pants... and third *ever* t-shirt! I love the sweatshirt that you made for your daughter: would you mind sharing the origin of the pattern - or is it self drafted??

KS_Sews (Dressmakingbacles) said...

It had! I was wearing loungewear most days. Now that I've started a new job, I get dressed every day. I think I prefer it that way!

Bamboo knit sounds like a dream - enjoy!

/anne... said...

As someone who spent last southern hemisphere winter in lockdown, my big tip is to buy two pairs of slippers with arch support. You need two because you don't wear anything else and they do need to air, and the arch support is essential because in Melbourne we discovered something called Ugg Boot Foot, caused by loose flat slippers.

I mostly wore tights, a knit dress and a cardigan - all me made, apart from the tights. I am worried that nothing in my wardrobe with a fitted waistband will fit, but it's 40c tomorrow (about 100F), so fitted waistbands aren't really appropriate until probably March

Peg Sullivan said...

Oh I am so glad someone finally admitted to becoming comfy and casual. I recently retired from 53 years of Nursing. I also have worked part time in Fabric store for almost 30 years. Loved making my own clothes and wearing. Started teaching others. When the Indies came out I was thrilled so comfy simple cozy, but would I ever wear them? No, but liked sewing for others. Now Fast forward to 3-2020.
The summer wardrobe sat because, I'm not going anywhere, but once every 5-6 weeks to grocery shop and then fall/winter and still the wardrobe sits. A few pounds heavier and it will undoubtedly go to Thrift shop. But I have started using up the Indie patterns and have begun shopping at Girl Charlie, SoSew English for knits. I have made some great comfy clothes and will continue to do so. When and if I return to retail, I will surely be dressing up ME.

LinB said...

My style is pretty much "classic shirtwaist blouse, simple trousers in interesting fabrics, a light sweater or jacket, and a scarf ... and always always always sensible shoes." You know: Middle-class, Middle-aged, White Protestant Woman.

Okay, more than middle-aged. Though I have been copying shoe choices of 90-year-old women since I was 35.

I do find that, since so many fewer people see me every day than pre-pandemic, I am emboldened in my fabric choices and color combinations. It amuses me to play with color, and I no longer care if my outfits cause temporary blindness in others because of the brightness of the hues.

Xpresso said...

Okay, so a hard “no” to the booties. Even though foot comfort is the basis of everything I wear. Too many years in heels and hose have left me owning nothing but warm socks and comfy shoes. But Ima no gonna wear fur laces. Ever.
That said, the blue sweatshirt is fabulous! I would pay real money for that or the pattern. And definitely the fabric. One of the best things I’ve seen! And it looks really good on you too. You could maybe experiment with your own pattern line? A combination of style (yes, COVID wear is so a style!) and practicality.
Thank you for staying at it during this weird time. You are appreciated.
Teri on the Wet Coast.

Alison G said...

My answers would be no, yes, no, yes and yes! I'm the opposite of agoraphobic & can't wait to get out of the house even if there's sheet ice outside, which in January is the default where I live. I've never worn so many clothes for comfort as I have recently, because if nobody other than my long-suffering husband sees what I'm wearing, there doesn't seem much point in dressing up. Outdoors it's all covered up by a huge coat anyway and nobody's been allowed in the house for six months. The coat though, now there's a point. I have several interesting and colourful hand made coats, but am only wearing my plain dark puffer style because I don't want to stand out just now. Not my usual style. I like your quilted knit. I am sometimes a bit doubtful about jersey because with lots of curves, tailored suits me better. But a good quality ponte in a princess line is a joy which one day, eventually, my friends and family will share in!

Barbara said...

Jodie the P4P cocoon cardigan is great - made it many times - but you might want to widen the sleeves a bit if you are wearing it over anything but the thinnest shirt. ( I have one on now and have delivered one yesterday for my daughter).

The sweatshirt my daughter had one is the Linden from Grainline but I left off the band, lengthened it and added a sort of a freehand shirt tail hem. Easy to do. She likes the more open neckline.

Xpresso those boots are terrible aren't they? But pretty much the most comfortable things that have even been on these feet. I have decided that during a pandemic you are allowed 20% acquisition of things that you wouldn't be caught dead in during normal times. My turquoise glasses were my first pandemic purchases - so that says it all.

Love all my comments and commenters! Thank you!

Bunny said...

At first Covid lockdown emphasized what I already knew, that I had a p---poor casual wardrobe and I better get crackin'. I am one of those who likes to put my self together every day and it never included sweats of any kind or even tee shirts. I was more the long linen dress type. It was fun searching out more casual patterns and finding "my style". It still didn't include sweat pants and doesn't now, however. After a few months of that I realized I so craved sewing crisp cottons, woolen jackets and all the natural fabrics I missed. I've done a few but in more casual iterations. Right now I am back on the casual hunt, searching out a bit more upscale fabrics for hoodies and such but haven't really cut anything like that yet. I am getting more into upcycling and pictorial quilting to feed my sewing monster. I miss my nice clothing. I miss entertaining in the back yard with friends and family, cookouts, fancy barbecues of lamb chops or paella or fried chicken feasts outside. I so miss all that. Those evenings had me dressing up but casual in a way but never a nod to sloppy, just not my style. So right now I am scheduled for my vax and waiting to get back to my former life, and hopefully will have all those same friends and family around us. It's a different world. I can adapt. My sewing will adapt, but I still need my socialization, my hugs and my friends and family.

paloverdeblooms said...

I retired on Nov 1, 2019 and I have to say that my first year of not working was entirely different from what I expected—but I didn't and still don't mind being home almost all the time. Once we are set free, I expect I shall revel in being able to go to the bookstore or sit in a restaurant and have a meal, but I'll still be happy staying in most of the time. My wardrobe has drifted seriously toward complete comfort all of the time. I've learned to like knit pants and heavy cardigans (this winter) and cool loose linen dresses during the hot months. I've given up shoes except for my Clarks slide on sandals combined with sneakers and dance shoes for when I'm Zoom dancing (which is probably 4 times a week). Even my most comfortable flats aren't getting worn at all. I'm thinking of donating even more shoes than I did last summer.

But, I'm sewing Vogue 1659 (Claire Shaeffer), a swanky shirt with a pleated peplum and tower sleeve plackets out of silk broadcloth. I have ABSOLUTELY no need for such an item. I don't know when I will ever wear it. But I'm sewing it. Just 'cause I never want to get out of knits doesn't mean I have to disown all the beautiful fabrics in my stash.

Debra VanDeventer said...

Hi Barbara! This is my first time on your site. I was drawn to it because you are an educator who likes to sew. I'm a recently retired elementary school teacher who is spending retirement/pandemic time writing and sewing....and writing stories about sewing! I'm searching for that combination of comfortable yet pulled together look for home. Loved your sweatshirts!