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What does style mean in quarantine?

| Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A trip to the playground led to quite the debacle between my mom and me when I was around five years old. No, it was not because I refused to put on sunscreen, but rather what I refused to take off: my Ariel the mermaid costume. My beautiful shimmering sea foam skirt and purple top seemed like the perfect look for an excursion; my mom saw it as a perfect way to scrape my knees while running around in a tight tail. Nevertheless, I persisted and I wore that dress everywhere. I felt perfectly comfortable and confident expressing myself as the Disney princess I believed I was. Pants would simply not do the trick.

I’ve always been one to enjoy dressing up. I find it to be a fun creative outlet and a way to express myself. However, with quarantine leaving me cooped up in my house for four months before coming back to Notre Dame, I, like most people, didn’t put on a pair of pants with an actual waistline for that entire four months. I’d say my overall vibe was Katy Perry’s “Firework” because yes, I did feel (and look) like a plastic bag. With nowhere to go and no one to see, style lost its meaning for me. Think about it: How many times have you saved an outfit because you didn’t think you would see enough people that day? While style is a very personal thing, it relies on other people perceiving it. If no one sees your outfit, did you even wear it?

One day during the lockdown, I did a deep clean of my closet and decided to see if any of my friends would be interested in the clothes I wasn’t planning on keeping. As I packaged up all the clothes I had to drop off, I held each piece of clothing and felt a wash of nostalgia come over me. Memories of my first college visit, to my first day of college, to my first college party came flooding back. While some may think of clothes as just pieces of fabric, I see them as so much more. They represent our experiences, our likes and dislikes, our personalities. This nostalgia brings a sense of comfort. That’s what I think style is: being comfortable in oneself. The clothes themselves don’t necessarily have to be comfortable, so long as the person wearing them feels comfortable. Style represents who we are, and we’re our most authentic selves when we feel the most comfortable and confident.

Being back on campus and having places to go has helped me tap back into my personal style after feeling like I’d lost touch during quarantine. Interestingly enough, dressing to see other people leads me to dress more for myself because I get to use it as a form of creative expression. This is where I find comfort, in feeling confident with what I am wearing. Wherever you find comfort, I say do it in your own style.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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