Happy almost end of 2020. On a recent NPR program, the Takeaway, there was a story about how our dressing habits had changed so much due to the shutdown. Men and women now working at home were slogging around in t-shirts, shorts, sweats, even lounge wear and bathrobes. When an online meeting was scheduled, they dressed from the waist up and then went back to casual as soon as the meeting ended. Women stopped wearing bras, makeup, and jewelry. Men stopped wearing what men wear to work. Haircuts were a thing of the past unless they dared to do it themselves. Men grew beards that were taboo at the office. Lipstick? Forget it, nobody can see it when you’re wearing a mask, so why bother? And from what I could glean, all of these people were actually enjoying their new chill-axin’ normal. Although to note, the commentator did say she missed wearing lipstick. That’s when I said to the radio, “Then wear the friggin’ lipstick! Do it for you!”
So, here’s a point of view of someone who has been working at home, at a desk, for about 35 years. Just look at Jack Torrance, the wannabe novelist from The Shining. Every day he got up, got dressed, and went downstairs to his desk and typewriter. The only people who would see him were his wife and son…well, later a few ghosts, but anyway, you get the point. Until he went batsh*t crazy, Jack cleaned up and dressed for work every day.
I’ve always done pretty much the same other than the batsh*t crazy thing. When at work, whatever I’m wearing inside, I would wear in public. I’m no snazzy dresser (a former friend once asked if I was an artist or did I just get dressed in the dark), but when it’s time to really get to work, I wash up, get dressed, including a bra, dab on a little makeup, and always put on earrings. While there have been times that I have gotten out of bed and trudged to the desk in my jammies, especially when a big deadline was looming, I eventually discovered that until I got cleaned up and really dressed, I wasn’t all that productive. Wearing relaxing clothes made me want to, you know, relax!
Meanwhile, there is also tremendous satisfaction in reaching the end of your work day by shutting down the computer, throwing off the work clothes, and putting on those sweats. It feels good both physically and mentally. It’s like if you don’t dress for work and change for play, you just keep working. Changing out of work clothes means it’s time to go home, even if you’re already there.
Just look at Jack. If you recall, his entire working novel had the same line, typed over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Obviously, work-at-home Jack needed to call it quits for the day and put on his sweats.
Merry Holidays, Happy New Year, and Please Wear a Mask!