The Struggle to Get Dressed
Ever struggled to get dressed in the morning? Has Covid and stay-at-home orders drained your motivation to get out of pajamas? You're not alone! Science and mental health experts say that getting dressed is both self-care and a productivity booster.
This is Part III in a series responding to our almost nearly official survey in our Good Morrow Community on Facebook. Part I about Clothing Sizing in a Broken Industry can be read here, Part II about Personal Style and Slowing Down Fast Fashion can be found here.
For a refresher, these are the questions I posed:
- What would you say is your biggest pain point when it comes to your wardrobe? (Basically what frustrates/confuses/overwhelms you?)
- Where do you personally struggle in areas of your personal style?
- Why is it so hard for American women to get dressed every morning?
Why is it so hard for women to get dressed in the morning? Well, the previously mentioned blog topics have certainly contributed. A lack of confidence as a result of both sizing and styling was frequently mentioned, and then Covid. Suddenly a closet designed to be seen by the outside world is null and void. Our needs changed. Fit got more complicated as our bodies (and thus sizes) changed (well mine did at least lol!). But many just let their wardrobes go as an attempt to cope with our new chaotic normal. If getting dressed in 2019 was hard, getting dressed in 2020 became impossible.
What did the Good Ones have to say about the query? Obviously Covid and stay at home orders made the list. Lots of comments related to their season of life, "I'm just a mom" was a common refrain; "I live in workout clothes" but most owned that it did not always mean they got a workout in; "It's work" was one comment that I felt in my soul, women struggled to get dressed because it required too much effort. Many in the "it's work" camp cited seasons of depression, or just a general sense of giving up.
Enter my emphatic plea to reframe getting dressed everyday as a healthy rhythm contributing to self-care and confidence. The trickle-down effects of which are often shocking including increased productivity, energy and healthier choices in areas like diet and exercise. And to be clear, I am calling us to get dressed for yourself, not for your spouse, not your co-workers, not the other moms at school pick up, just for you.
Countless articles have popped up since Covid about the value of daily routines. "Experts say keeping your routine — whether a new one or the one before COVID-19 — is an important part in helping maintain your mental and physical health, provided those routines are healthy ones." Getting up, being intentional about the day, shouldn't stop at the closet. Why? Because we've all had those lazy Saturdays where we lounge around in pajamas till noon, avoiding getting dressed because we know it symbolizes the start of the day...regardless of what time we get dressed. Still a doubter? Psychologist Yunetta Smith echoes those sentiments, "Routine is vital. With so many things outside of our control, it is helpful to identify some things that you can control, such as what you decide to wear, your skincare routine, or what shade of lipstick you decide to apply. Having a routine can help us to create order in our private world and have a sense of normalcy in a very abnormal circumstance. I've found that over the past five months what I wear and how I prepare matters. I have noticed over the months that you are what you eat and you are also what you wear."
Now about those sweats. Am I against sweats? As a style choice; no. As a defeatist solution to nudity on a daily basis? I am wholeheartedly against it. And to caveat, I am firmly in camp comfort. Getting dressed does not mean you shouldn't be comfortable! Clothing should not be considered a punishment past the age of 2. Why am I all for making daily personal style choices? It's a little science called Enclothed Cognition. Essentially, the science says that what you put on your body literally affects your behavior, attitude, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. In other words, what you put on is as important as the act of getting dressed at all. The power suit got its moniker because putting on a smart, well tailored suit is proven to boost confidence and make you feel powerful. Getting dressed is a signal to our brain, it's a productivity cue. It prepares us for a day of work and we are more likely to remain in that mindset as long as we wear the outfit.
And because you still might be skeptics, we have ALL experienced this in the opposite direction. Who has come home after a long day of work/events/errands and the first step in evening routine is to change out of your uniform/office attire/dress clothes/bra (you know you were thinking it) and change into sweats to signal the start to an evening of relaxation and winding down?!? We all have! Maybe you have a work uniform, and that reality is unavoidable, but if you don't maybe we need some more intentionality in the clothing we wear to work (you too stay at home mamas!). You can be comfortable and put together (hello house dresses, you're the real MVP!)
For those in a deeper funk or depressive state, who have been in a uniform of pajamas for the past 6 months, I feel you sister! This admonition [emphasis mine] from clinical psychologist Dr. Jordana Jacobs is worth consideration, "For patients who have experienced the depressive effect of quarantine life, I highly recommend that they start by re-create a morning routine, which could include meditation, working out, showering, getting dressed, putting make up on, eating a healthy breakfast, etc. This type of routine making is part of a larger technique used to treat anxiety and depression called behavioral activation. It is important that we continue engaging in behaviors that increase our sense of achievement and control."
Where does that leave us? 3 blog posts which seem to bring up more problems than solutions, fret not, there is more to come, because if it's regular daily rhythm, it's worth regular consideration. More intentionality about how we build a good wardrobe, that fits our current bodies, our curated and coordinated personal style, and our current season of life. Because honestly, it's hard to incorporate laborious tasks into a daily rhythm...so let's make it easy!