Like many of us, I’m currently working from home. Late last week, I packed up close to 50 pounds of crystals, chains, and gems from my design studio and walked them to my apartment, where I set up a temporary battle station filled with sunglasses, earrings, and objets d’art. This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed home office-ing with social distancing. I started A-morir, my line of luxury accessories, from my studio apartment in 2008. Three years later I couldn’t leave that room for six weeks after a major surgery, and kept to myself while recovering so I wouldn’t get sick again. What helped me feel good then? The same thing that’s helping me now: I wake up, take a shower, and immediately get dressed in my favorite things.
I don't believe in saving pieces for "special occasions,” whether that piece is a designer outfit or a fancy set of china. I happily sip matcha from a chalice and wear the Mugler blazer I got married in to casual dinners with friends. Many people advise you to “dress for the job you want,” but my approach has always been “dress for the way you want to feel.” Clothing should make you feel better about yourself. I've found that a perfect fit is the most effective way to lift my spirits when I’m down. The state of the world is depressing, and the added emotional impact of social isolation isn’t helping, so I’m here to raise some spirits as your sartorial sherpa. As a lifelong dress-for-yourself-er, who’s also spent her fair share of time home alone, let me be the first to tell you that our Great Distancing is the ideal time to take fun risks with your wardrobe and learn how dressing for yourself can be so much more enjoyable than dressing for other people.
Style became my coping mechanism when, as a teen, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and spent most of my free time in doctors’ offices. Being sick is a bummer, and hospitals are no party. To make the best of a bad situation, I’d always show up in a fun, crazy look no matter how sick I felt. Later on, in college, I’d make all-nighters tolerable by wearing a ballroom dress or wild suit to the library, instantly elevating my spirits and getting me psyched to work. When I was recovering from colon removal a decade ago, I wore a tiara and a psychedelic silk robe while walking around the hospital. Sure, this was before everyone had a camera phone, but that wouldn’t have made a difference to me – dressing up was something I did for myself, because it made me feel better. And when I felt better one day, it helped me to feel better the next, and so on and so on….
As an adult I embrace that “dress for yourself" philosophy even further. I’m usually working alone in my studio to meet deadlines. But that has never stopped me from flexing bright colors, tons of sequins, power-clashing patterns, and a whole lot of crystal bling. It’s not for Instagram; it’s to make me feel good! Sometimes it requires brightly patterned pants and a punk rock top, sometimes it’s my favorite knit Vivienne Westwood sweatsuit. Having a handful of go-to outfits that uplift your mood and get you ready for the day is clutch, whether you’re in an all-hands staff meeting or emailing from your new office on the couch.
Working mobile is the perfect time to put your closet on shuffle. When a garment doesn’t feel good (physically and emotionally), it has to go, regardless of how many times it’s been worn or how much you spent on it. I’ve found that it can be hard to make those decisions while you’re trying on something for only a few minutes in front of the mirror. So take those why-don’t-I-wear-you-more pieces and spend a work-from-home day in them. See how they make you feel. Take a few selfies, maybe even put up an IG story poll if you need a second opinion. When it’s all said and done, I bet you’ll have doubled your work wardrobe, and won’t wake up staring at a full closet thinking, I have nothing to wear!
Distancing days are also a great time to play with your look in more extreme ways. I’m sure you have a pile of hats / bangles / mauve lipsticks that you loved in the store, and every time you put them on at home you’re not sure if you can “pull it off.” But you absolutely can and should! So much of personal style is simply getting comfortable, and that includes the physicality of how a piece feels. Experiment! Wear a glamour hat with your favorite track pants. Add chunky chains to every outfit. Try makeup you wouldn't wear every day, like that drastically dark lipstick you’ve always admired. Without opinions in the office to worry about, you can decide for yourself if these new style elements make you feel like you.
There is no right or wrong way to dress when you work from home (shout-out to my favorite new account, @wfhfits). But trust me, there is something really soothing about working on a Powerpoint or responding to Slack messages while wearing a giant ruffled coat. And don’t limit yourself to work hours. Did a “big night out” get canceled? Wear that formal fit while you eat dinner, and FaceTime the friend you were planning to go with. Put some brooches on your bathrobe and wear lipstick while you mask. Create a midweek spa day from the comfort of your own tub. Binge TV in full Marie Antoinette mode, with pita chips and hummus gloops on your “nice plates” — Netflix will never feel more decadent. The giant, wraparound velvet cape I’m wearing while I type this brings me happiness while the rest of the world seems busy doing the opposite. When everything outside feels insane and out of control, putting on a perfect work-from-home fit is a little slice of joy that’s completely in your own hands (and closet).
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue