COLUMN: Dress for any occasion in a time with no occasions

When Zoom calls only reveal our top halves, we are able to dress however we’d like. Expressing yourself through your dress can be better for your mental health.

Cela is a sophomore journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about Daily Life for The Maneater.

My alarm goes off at 8:30 a.m. and when I’m finally able to release myself from the grips of my covers, I go to the bathroom, wash my face and brush my teeth. Next, I check the weather and plan out my outfit for the day.

What do you wear for the first day of school when pants are optional?

This year, the first day of school involves trudging from the bed to the fridge for snacks and staying muted during virtual class. The only school supplies needed are a computer, headphones and the will to carry on through countless Zoom calls.

Dress is how we express ourselves and our identity to the world. It can aid in conveying our beliefs, advertise for causes we support, enforce or break stereotypes based on our appearance and reflect our social status.

With no occasions, now is the time to dress for any occasion. This is a time for students to dress however they’d like. Up, down or not at all.

It is essential to present well and establish one’s identity. Dress should not be a source of stress, but rather increase comfort and serve as a mood booster. Dress for any occasion under the sun because there are no occasions now.

In the article “A Modest Proposal: Wear Whatever the Hell You Want” by Jennifer Romolini published on Shondaland, Romolini recalls a book titled “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple,” which derives its title from a famous poem.

The poem titled “Warning” by Jenny Joseph tells the tale of a young wife fantasizing about her freedom of dress when she is older. As a young wife she has responsibilities and an image to uphold, but all she wants is to wear purple and maybe a red hat when no one cares what she does anymore.

The book is an anthology of writings and photos from women no longer in their youth on the moments of joy they experience in their midlife and later. It rejects ageism and celebrates the older women typically held invisible by society.

Romolini rejects the book’s sentiment that people must wait until they are older to dress how they’d like and says “Wear whatever the hell you want, whenever you damn want.”

There is no dress code in life and certainly not one in college. Bare shoulders and midriff can no longer be policed or controlled like in high school or under parental roofs.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to wear leggings without wearing a shirt or dress over them long enough to cover my butt. When I’m home for the summer I can’t wear crop tops or skirts that are deemed “too short” by my father. But at college, I’m free to wear whatever I’d like.

MU’s blend of online and in-person classes allows for some exposure of outfits of the day for one with an in-person class. Don’t be afraid to dress up for that one in-person class. Don’t be afraid to dress up even if it’s just to go to a dining hall and back.

The act of picking out the outfit for the day serves as a source of motivation to get out of bed and start the day. A comfortable t-shirt and shorts help to make a 9 a.m. Zoom class a little more bearable.

Dressing as if there were in-person class carries the sentiment of “look good, feel good, do good.” In “The Case For Getting Dressed” by Sara Radin for Refinery29, Radin consults with psychotherapist Jennifer Musselman.

“Staying stuck in your pajamas day after day sets your mood,” Musselman said. “It literally keeps you stuck.” She also says that not getting dressed can cause you to eat poorly and reduce positivity and engagement in your life.

Even with nowhere to be, going through the motions of getting ready can prepare the brain for the day ahead and provide a much-needed mental reset. Changing clothes serves as a physical reminder that it is a new day with new possibilities.

Romolini says “Trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust what you love. Those are the only rules you need.”

So if achieving comfort is the goal, wear those sweatpants and that sweatshirt. If dressing in business-casual clothes serves as motivation to get out of bed, by all means, wear that.

Look no further than Asia Milia Ware’s article “From Zoom Classes to Virtual Dates: What Four Influencers Are Wearing at Home” for Teen Vogue for outfit or style inspiration. The article highlights multiple outfits put together by influencers engaging in mundane and routine tasks. There may never be “the right time” to wear that outfit so wear it any time.

Please consider donating to The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund. The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund provides financial assistance to Black women and girls seeking therapy all over the nation. https://thelovelandfoundation.org/loveland-therapy-fund/

Edited by Sofi Zeman | szeman@themaneater.com

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