It's easy to brush it off as one of the more trivial aspects of lockdown life but our changing approach to dressing over the past few months has affected everything from productivity to our sense of self. We embraced loungewear with open arms at first but as it became apparent that this was indeed The New Normal™, the novelty wore off and we grasped at small things – jewellery and lipstick for Zoom meetings, a joyful blouse for the big food shop – to reestablish some semblance of normality in our daily lives.
We may not be dancing in our favourite club or having dinner parties with friends in the near future but as lockdown restrictions start to ease (for now), we've been ruminating on the outfit we’ll wear when life resumes. We can’t know with any certainty what that life will look like, but we can dream up the 'fit we’ll don when it’s time.
Our curiosity about how other people have been dressing led us to work with photographer Poppy Thorpe on this lockdown photo series. She used her one hour of daily exercise to cycle around her native Brighton and take socially distanced photos of people wearing the looks they’ll dress in when they’re out and about in the real world once more. From colours that inspire confidence to getting reacquainted with a favourite pair of jeans, here’s what they can’t wait to wear again.
"My approach to dressing is pretty eclectic but I still try to keep it simple. I wear a lot of statement jewellery as I study 3D design and craft at uni, so most of the week I’m in steel-toe boots and workshop clothes. At weekends or if I’m going out I normally just add some more accessories and a bit of colour. In lockdown I have started to wear more of my 'nice clothes' by mixing them up with a lot of comfy stuff too. I have tried to make an effort with my appearance, even if I’m going to the shops. Now when I get ready it feels like I’m dressing up for myself and I worry less about other people’s opinions. I have so many clothes that are only for special occasions, it now seems silly not to wear them as the events I have been saving them for are all cancelled anyway. One plus side to lockdown is having the time to focus on the things I really enjoy doing: I love being more active and taking time out of the day to be creative for myself.
I’m wearing a colourful kimono I got in a charity shop a few years ago; I’ve worn it to festivals and parties over the years but have never really felt confident enough to wear it out in general. Every time I put it on it makes me happy as it reminds me of so many memories. I picked it as I’m trying to embrace colour more and be confident in being bold. The plain black trousers are a pair I keep for smart days. They’re not my favourite pair of trousers but I like the simple shape and they're black, so they go with most things. They’re just really comfy and that’s been important to me during lockdown. I love how comfy this ribbed halterneck top is. I’ve actually stopped wearing bras a lot recently and this is one of the tops that has replaced them for me while staying home. My white Dr. Martens are one of my favourite pairs of shoes; I’ve just been in trainers recently so I am very excited to get back into them. I bought them with the money from my first job nearly six years ago, so they have done well in lasting this long."
"I always want to feel comfortable and relaxed. I wear a lot of worn-in vintage and a few well-made new pieces. I put thought into getting dressed in the morning and then don’t really want to think about it for the rest of the day. I’m always inspired by the Instagram accounts Chinatown Pretty and Gramparents. My style hasn’t changed massively since lockdown. I had just moved to Edinburgh to start a new job but I came back to Brighton to work remotely and be with my husband, so I’ve got much less choice but I’m still really enjoying putting an outfit together in the morning. Even if it’s sweatpants, it’s still considered and gets me in the right mindset for the working day in my makeshift office! It’s been a good distraction. One positive to come out of lockdown has been spending time with my husband Neil and our cat Baby. We’d been living apart for about three months and likely will again after lockdown. I’m trying to make the most of the weird circumstances.
I wore this look because I miss layering and wearing denim! My jeans were the first thing I put in my suitcase to come here, but I think I’ve had them on for about two hours total since I arrived seven weeks ago. They’re vintage Levi’s that I bought on eBay after having a saved search for a particular pair of 501s for ages. I’ve had them for about four or five years and I love them – they’re probably the most worn piece in my wardrobe. The denim shirt is from orSlow, one of my favourite Japanese brands. It’s technically Neil’s but I love it and borrow as much as he’ll let me away with. He granted me an extended loan the last time he visited me in Edinburgh and I want to wear it every day. The T-shirt underneath is a new purchase from Story Mfg, a brand that is doing things right! It’s possibly the best T-shirt I’ve ever had. Thick cotton, oversized and boxy. So comfortable. My mum knit this Aran jumper for me (one of many) and it’s basically a hug from my mum while I’m so far away from my parents. I always look forward to wearing socks and sandals as it warms up after winter (it was still so cold when I left Scotland) and now it’s summer and I’ve not had nearly enough opportunity to wear them outside!"
"I'm usually pretty casual. I think my style is always changing but always includes a lot of denim, knitwear and faux fur. I've recently stopped buying from fast fashion brands and I think my approach to dressing has evolved since then, because my wardrobe has been shed of all the cheap and badly made clothing that I was holding onto, and gained some pre-loved gems. I guess my style hasn't changed much since lockdown; it has only been muffled by the fact that there is nowhere to go. I've tried to continue to get dressed and do my makeup routine most days, just so I feel good and stay motivated, but there have been some days that I've stayed in pyjamas and watched films all day. One positive to come out of all of this is being able to spend time crocheting! Crocheting is my favourite thing to do in my spare time and it brings me so much inner peace. Usually I have a part-time job at a charity shop and I'm in the midst of completing an MA in media and politics, so there's not much time left to sit down, relax and crochet up a storm.
I created the pattern for and crocheted this jumper, inspired by the basic granny square – I feel best when I'm wearing clothes that I've created myself.
These jeans are my favourite pre-loved Levi’s, the only pair I have that fit me properly, and the boots are vintage. I've never owned boots other than Dr. Martens before, so I thought these would be a timeless addition to my wardrobe. My earrings are from the independent brand Han Makes – I love the ‘60s inspo."
"My go-to formula for getting dressed is the biggest tee I can find, straight-leg trousers and a Birkenstock and socks combination. I purposefully never have a huge amount of clothes, so I tend to rotate a few neutral staples and pair with something a bit more interesting like a tie-dye, long-sleeve or slogan tee. Since I’m usually busy in the studio, I tend to prioritise clothes that are easy to work in, and I like to have a ‘uniform’ so that I can get ready and out of the house without too much decision-making but still curate an outfit I’m going to enjoy wearing! I’ve been dressing the same as usual since lockdown, even putting on shoes in the morning to make me feel like I’m going to work. When I came down to Brighton before lockdown I packed an unreasonably small suitcase so I’ve been rotating the same three outfits for the past seven weeks. In some ways it’s been quite a fun challenge to make an outfit you like when you have such limited options, and to keep things fresh I’ve been altering or making bits for myself when I’m feeling really uninspired. I will definitely appreciate the rest of my wardrobe when I finally make it back to London, though. I’ve been super busy making face masks for the past month, but I’ve had so much more time than usual to design new clothes and work on my pattern cutting. It’s been a needed change of pace for me and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
I didn’t have anything here that I felt excited about wearing now, let alone after lockdown! So I decided to adapt a plain white tee I had and make a pair of trousers in an attempt to have an outfit I felt more inspired by. I often upcycle old tees and enjoy how a small alteration can totally change the energy of a piece and re-inspire the way you view what’s in your wardrobe. The outfit is super simple (which is always my vibe) and it always feels very satisfying to wear a whole outfit that I’ve made myself! I paired it with my favourite gold hoops."
"I dress depending on my mood. I could be out in pyjamas one day and something super elaborate the next, but the dream is to be as stylish as Tracee Ellis Ross. Like most people, lockdown has put sweats on heavy rotation. At the start I would dress up and put on makeup as a treat to queue for groceries, but now I don’t think I’ll ever regain the willpower to put on a pair of jeans. I have to finish my final year of university in lockdown so it’s been stressful for me. My cat on the other hand is loving the 24/7 attention. He’s on episode 2 of Primates and he’s almost learned how to fetch. I actually ordered this dress for a special Zoom occasion. It didn’t arrive in time so I’m wearing it for the first time for you! I don’t have any shoes that go with it. My necklace and ring are from Rwanda by an artist named Abraham Konga and are made from melted down brass padlocks."
Ella [L]: "When it comes to dressing I don’t have one strict approach, but I’ve accumulated a collection over the years from flea markets and vintage stores. Since lockdown began I have focused more on comfort, wearing T-shirts with loose skirts or jeans almost every day. One positive thing about lockdown is that I’ve managed to finish projects that I wouldn’t have had the time to finish otherwise. I’m wearing a checked silk dress which I got for my birthday a couple of years ago. I don’t have many items of clothing that I wear frequently but this is one of them. It's easy to wear and really comfy. The red boots are from a sample sale in Paris. They have a shearling lining and are some of the easiest heels I own. I wear heels most of the time but haven’t since lockdown began, so this felt like a good excuse to put a pair on again."
Mae [R]: "My approach is based on the things I can find in charity shops and car boot sales. I’m always in search of a bargain! I’ve been doing a lot of painting around the house, so I’ve been mainly in overalls recently. A positive for me is that I’ve had the time to sew and make some clothes – hopefully I’m learning new things. I’m wearing a vintage nightdress I got from a car boot sale a while ago. I have a bit of an addiction to buying nighties but I love to wear them in the summer because of how light and easy they are. My cowboy boots, which I’ve worn nearly every day since I found them, were a fiver from a charity shop, and the socks are stolen from my sister."
"I've always loved to dress up. I'm a queer high femme so fashion and clothing is a really important part of my self-expression. I feel most myself wearing an all-black ‘fit, bright red lipstick and winged eyeliner. Because I'm just staying at home I haven't really felt like getting dressed up – I tend to wear comfy clothes around the house – but this does have a negative effect on my mood, so I'll still put something nice on every few days and do my makeup. Me and my partner have been doing a date night every Friday night, and we run a club night together (Gal Pals) where we've been hosting virtual parties every fortnight, so that's been a really good reason to get glammed up and put on a look. A positive to come out of lockdown for me has been cycling. I've never been a confident cyclist and had never cycled on the road until lockdown but the lack of cars on the road makes it a lot less scary. I wish the level of traffic could stay this way to be honest, it's good for the environment and it encourages more people to cycle.
I’m wearing something I bought before lockdown but never got the chance to wear outside. It's a pink frilly tulle dress I got super cheap in the Topshop sale, with a red velvet bodysuit underneath. It's basically a Molly Goddard knockoff, I've always loved her dresses but I'd never be able to afford one so as soon as I saw this I knew I had to buy it. To be honest, I'm not sure where I'd wear this outfit even if we weren't in lockdown, maybe to a party or something? It's very over the top. I feel a bit like a meringue wearing it but I love it."
"Two friends can describe my style better than I ever could – ‘randomised Sim’ and ‘Euro/Italo-glam’ – so it’s definitely a combination of those! My approach to dressing is also influenced by the places I’m in or what I’m doing that day. I love films and characters, so I think sometimes I play up to this in how I dress myself. Sort of like that feeling when you are on a train, looking out the window and listening to music and you imagine that you are in the music video. All I am doing in lockdown is rotating between sportswear and the same pair of trousers and jumper. I have seen loads of people getting properly dressed up for video calls and it looks fun, but I just don’t have the motivation. I have realised a lot of what drives my love of getting dressed is the joy of being out and about in the outfits I have put together. A positive to come out of lockdown is my 50-day streak on Duolingo! I’m finally trying to learn Italian in order to match my very Italian name. Plus I’m spending lots of time with my family.
The first outfit I’ll wear when lockdown lifts will probably be something way more skimpy because, at the moment, that’s my reaction to being cooped up in my house for eight weeks. I want to take all my clothes off just because…it’s a change! However, I’m in lockdown at my parents' house on the street I grew up in, so I didn’t feel like posing at my front door Love Island-style in a bikini and heels. I chose this outfit because I really want to wear it to go clubbing! Despite having gone off clubs a bit over the last year, all I want to do every weekend in lockdown is go out, drink and dance with friends… I guess you don’t realise what you had ‘til it’s gone. When it’s safe and okay for the clubs to reopen I’ll be going in hard at an ‘80s synth pop night in this look. With the trousers in particular, I’m eager to wear them out because they are uncomfortable to sit down in, and I’d really like to wear something right now where I’m sacrificing comfort for PURE GLAMOUR!"
"I dress for the occasion but mostly for comfort, as I think there’s no point in going out in something but spending most of the night pulling down your dress in distress because you don’t feel 100%. That hasn’t changed much since lockdown; I’ve got my daytime pyjamas to potter around in and my actual pyjamas, and the occasional frock comes out once every two weeks to drink gin in the living room. A positive of lockdown? Being comfortable with the passing of time and the mundanity of just watching the days go by. Being able to stop, think and be okay with it.
I’m wearing a white bandeau top because I love having my shoulders on show, and a burnt orange wrap skirt because I like the colour with my complexion. Big gold hoops are just a staple in my life, I wear more hoops than I eat five a day. There isn’t a story behind the clothes themselves, because they are fairly new purchases, but I guess the silhouette and the colours just make me feel like summer. Like ciders in the park, BBQs on the beach, long warm evenings turning into cool sunny mornings because you’ve been up that late, and that freedom that comes along with finishing work and running out the door like you don’t have to be there again tomorrow."
"I prefer strong blocks of colours, like red, black, white or brown. To me these are reliable and stable. That's the base I tend to start with, and I can pair each of these colours with makeup and accessories that tie the outfit together. I’m definitely my happiest when my outfit is colour-coordinated. I’ve been wearing more loungewear during lockdown but still use the same colour palette as my other clothes. When I go on a walk or to the shops, my colours are still on standby. It suits my frame of mind. I don’t like fussiness or pattern; for me it’s about shape, reliable colour and comfort. One positive of lockdown for me would be being okay on my own and learning to listen to my own needs more. It’s been really good for my mental health too, just really focusing on myself I guess.
Today I’ve decided to wear my beautiful red leather jacket. My girlfriend got it for me for Christmas and I am yet to pull a look with it. Once lockdown is lifted I will most definitely be wearing it on my first night out. Clothes to me are like armour, they make me feel strong and powerful when I wear them and red to me is power."
"I find the more I seek out colours in my artwork, the more I wear them, whether I’m aware of it or not. Most of my clothes are secondhand: 90% of my jackets were my dad’s, same for my jeans. I wear a lot of my mother’s old clothes, she wears a lot of mine, things get circulated around our family. I’m staying at my aunt's at the moment, she’s a powerhouse and incredibly well dressed. I come from a lineage of women who appreciate personal style. Pockets are important, as I carry around a lot of the flotsam and jetsam I find while I’m walking or running along the beach. I would never dress for another person, it feels deeply wrong to me. I would question reducing any experience at the moment to something positive or negative, but lockdown has reconfirmed my values. It’s pulled me up on my own social inadequacies: I am more wary than ever of virtue signalling, for example. My radio show GIANT LOVER has never been more focused on creating a space of hope and joy, and I am obsessing over the lyrics and melody of every song. Overall it’s shone yet another spotlight on how ravaged our state has become. I want to know what we as a society are going to do with this information.
I hate sitting still so I like to wear clothes I can move in. My mum taught me from a young age to trust cotton so I always look at the blend mix when I’m shopping. This shirt was a gift from her last year to celebrate my photos being selected for UNSIGNED 2019. The dress is a present to myself for getting through a complex period of my life when I didn’t give myself much time to rest, it’s a dress I plan to spend a lot of time dancing in. My sister always wore hoops growing up and I can’t think of anything better than a girl in hoop earrings, they symbolise everything I love about being a woman. This pair is from my favourite stall in the Lanes in Brighton. My bracelet is one of four: my sister and two of my cousins have the same one, it connects us to one another and reminds me of how fortunate I am to have them. I have long legs and when lockdown is lifted I plan to use them to run into the arms of everyone I love so I need to be wearing my trainers – god knows where they will take me when this is done."
"I very much just enjoy dressing up for myself, I don’t really care much about what people think or if an item goes or if it’s ‘fashionable’. I just love clothes and wearing whatever makes me feel happy. Not much has changed in lockdown to be honest, I’m still trying to make sure I get dressed up a bit in the morning to keep a routine. The only difference is I have actively tried to avoid jeans. Lockdown has been a time to reflect. Being fortunate enough to have time to think about the big life things as well as the small. Also being able to watch Star Wars chronologically, bingeing HBO’s Oz and cracking on with the gardening have been some more frivolous positives.
The dress I’m wearing is by Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons and was probably the Depop find of the century. I predominantly wear vintage and secondhand clothing so absolutely love to find pieces such as this, it’s a blood sport for me. It’s an item that makes me feel so good, however it’s a total nightmare to get into – it took about half an hour to figure it out when I received it! The grandpa shirt is vintage and I’ve had it for years, it gets better and softer with age; it’s such lovely cotton. I very much like to wear vintage and secondhand clothes in a contemporary way that acknowledges more current trends – it doesn’t have to look like it’s dead people’s clothes. The sandals are a collaboration between Japanese labels, Suicoke and Needles, I got them the other day as a treat to myself. I love Suicoke sandals as they are such great quality and so comfy, so I know I’ll wear these for years to come."
"I try and shop mainly secondhand as I feel it’s the best way for me to shop sustainably. I'm trying to stop shopping fast fashion. I love charity shops and eBay, that's probably where I get most of my clothes. My style is mainly influenced by Bratz dolls and the Spice Girls! I’ve felt really weird about ordering clothes during lockdown because I don't want to put people at risk just to get clothes. I refuse to order from big brands, particularly while there's been so much controversy surrounding them not paying garment workers because of COVID-19. They need to #PAYUP. One positive of lockdown has been rewatching every single episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I’m wearing a Jane Norman dress I got on eBay just before lockdown. It’s fire. I don’t know where I would wear it but I just love everything about it. I am one of those people who shaved their head during isolation so I’m still trying to get used to it but this dress with my shaved head is special. Secondhand clothes are the way forward – I got this for £7!"
"I make my own clothes. I love colours, frills and vintage. I think I'm a lazy dresser at heart so I've been making easy clothes that make you look like you've made an effort when it really just took you five minutes to get ready! Since lockdown, I have had a lot of time for designing and making my own clothes again. Most days you'll find me wearing my PJs in my home studio, designing and making clothes, then prancing around in them once they are done. Last year I was cofounder and creative director at Lara Intimates but that all came to an abrupt end last September and I found myself living back in Brighton. I felt a massive loss – it was an emotional time for me and therefore my creativity just stopped. However since lockdown I have had it coming back in droves, which has given me a massive drive to start my own company again and for that I'm really grateful.
When lockdown lifts, I’ll be wearing this pink and cream gingham two-piece. It’s been something that I've wanted to design for months and months and it has finally come into life. I am using the most beautiful European linen that genuinely makes me so happy. I'm choosing this outfit because for me it's my new beginning, my fresh start, my next chapter."
"My approach to dressing is straightforward! I’m an outfit repeater so getting dressed is a pretty easy task as I only own a few items in my wardrobe. I keep it small because dressing and shopping equals lots of decisions and I’m not great at making clothing-related decisions, especially if it’s first thing in the morning. I’ve been roaming round my flat in pants and a tank top for the whole of lockdown. Sometimes I think I want a huge, diverse wardrobe so I can change up my persona on a whim depending on my mood but at the same time I feel like pants and a white vest is all the persona variation I need. It’s a bad bitch outfit, it’s also a sad bitch outfit, and all the moods in between. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in lockdown and thought, This outfit doesn’t match my mood.
Pastels for spring? Groundbreaking. I threw on this outfit about five minutes ago and quite honestly didn’t think about it too much. I’d say the way I put this together was like a magpie in a pawnbroker's, I chose the items I gravitated towards first. The shirt is from Zara and despite it having cats on it I’m definitely more of a dog person. Underneath I’m wearing a linen dress from Avoca Anthology. I overheat easily in warm weather so I pretty much live in this dress over spring and summer. My banana earrings were a gift from a dear friend, handmade by the very talented jeweller Sophie Morgan. The cowboy boots? I impulsively bought them a couple of years ago on eBay for £20. I haven’t worn them much but twenty quid to realise my Hannah Montana Tennessee fantasy? Worth it."