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Those of us who are fortunate (and additionally responsible) enough to quarantine during the pandemic have been doing so for at least a month now. For many of us, our routines have radically shifted, including how much (or little) we sleep, what we eat, and how we exercise. We’re also changing up what we wear.
For one thing, we don’t leave the house now without a mask or pair of gloves. Hyperallergic recently shared the research of fashion historian Alison Matthews David, who points out that people’s dress habits have historically changed in response to diseases, and that even our current work-from-home outfits are symptoms of this. As an illustration, she referenced the new Instagram account @quarantine_ss20, which crowdsources people’s stories about what they are wearing now and why.
In late March, Doris Domoszlai-Lantner, a New York-based fashion historian and archivist, partnered up with Anna Zsófia Kormos, a Budapest-based design PhD student, to start the account. They’d been reading plenty of articles about how the fashion industry is fairing and reacting to the pandemic (including one Marc Jacobs interview in Vogue in which he says “the amount of stuff we make” is “just so excessive”). But Domoszlai-Lantner and Kormos felt like readers were missing the more “personal narratives” around fashion, ones that didn’t just come from celebrities and major brands.
That’s when the two women decided to build a more public, “collaborative” project. The introduction on their Instagram account, posted on March 31, sets the tone: “The next season is cancelled. QUARANTINE S/S20 is created by you. What are you wearing for quarantine?”
Since then, submissions have been steadily trickling in every day. Participants send photos of their outfits, along with brief written descriptions. Many emphasize that getting dressed has become a crucial component of their mental health — in the words of New York-based stylist and window dresser Delphine (participants only submit first names), “It’s like hygiene to me.” A splash of color or whimsical pair of socks can go a long way. “Accessories matter,” says Melina, a New York-based conservator.
Others, however, seem delightfully content to not have to think about their clothes. “[T]o be honest, it’s been somewhat of a relief to (almost) forget about my appearances for a while!” says Sara, a fashion historian and vintage collector based in Brooklyn. Brittany, who was fired from her job right before lockdown in Sydney, shares, “I stopped looking at the more femme, office-appropriate section of my wardrobe in favor of comfort, fun and practicality.” Savanah, a musician and call center operator in Austin, has been “dressing up” on Fridays, but is otherwise “wearing underwear and a sweater.”
Still, others are engaging in “daily dress-up and mini shootings,” in the words of Alíz, a fashion designer and stylist in Budapest. You’ll see people in all kinds of fantastic getups on the account, including Marcel of Rio de Janeiro, wearing a spacesuit, and Berlin-based make-up artist Eszter, whose face and chest are covered in swirls of paint.
“The submissions demonstrate that clothing can be used to perform and reinforce identity, create new sartorial actions and rituals in lieu of regular ones, and act as a safe space that comforts us during difficult, and in this case, historically monumental times,” Domoszlai-Lantner reflected in an email to Hyperallergic.
Anyone interested in participating in the project can send a direct message through the project’s Instagram page. For those who don’t have an Instagram account, they can send an email to email@example.com.