Time is an incredibly interesting concept. The passing of another year is only our earth revolving around the sun one more time. It’s pretty simple. However, as simple as it is, our culture has put a lot of attention on age. I’m about to celebrate another birthday in a couple of weeks. It’s not a big one ~ just 54. Considering how many rotations I’ve made, I’m pretty grateful for where I’ve been and excited for what’s to come.
This summer, during a socially distanced gathering of friends, a pre-pandemic story was relayed about an older woman who felt invisible while eating alone at a restaurant. It’s a concept I’ve confronted myself. The idea that in a woman’s lifespan she can go from being objectified to becoming invisible. Somewhere in there might be 20 minutes of neither. Harsh, wouldn’t you agree? In this realization, I have contemplated the broader injustices that I will never comprehensively know. Yet, I lean into the feeling of becoming invisible and embrace a gift of awareness that others have undoubtedly lived, and which instantly humanizes my vulnerability. Without a doubt, getting older has a way of catching you off guard. I find myself assessing what I still want to do…before I can’t. Then along comes a novel virus that starts defining an entire list of cants in ways I have never entertained, and suddenly I’m a child again in a worldwide timeout.
The last four months have offered me another perspective on time beyond the earth’s rotation around the sun. In the immediate days after March 13th, time seemed to stand still. In the weeks following, it began feeling a bit like Groundhog Day. Although the concept of the movie is that every day is just like the next for poor Bill Murray, we’ve been doubly flummoxed with some seriously uncharted territory. With the addition of learning new procedures, even simple acts have taken longer than usual. For example, going to the grocery store became an exercise in patience, combined with a healthy dose of adapting. ‘Survival of the fittest’ was my mantra as I navigated which way the footprints were facing on the tile floor while staying cognizant of social distancing and a pair of readers that were fogging up above my mask!
There’s a lot to be said for patience and adaptation. The wisdom of my nearly 54 years tells me that these two counterintuitive attributes will be incredibly valuable as we prepare for fall. I’ve spoken to so many women regarding what they should do with the clothing they purchased for a lifestyle that changed on a dime in early spring. As a forecaster of style, I know there will be a desire and willingness to dress again. It’s basic physics ~ for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Many of us haven’t been “dressing” as we were used to, and inevitably, this will spawn a desire to take action. If for no other reason than to experience something other than what we’ve been. Humans are innately curious beings and won’t settle in one place for too long. Many want to know, will dressing look the same? Probably not. That’s where adaptation becomes necessary.
The changes that occurred during COVID-19 have created a catalyst within the industry of fashion. There will be a response presented from designers as they determine user behavior. We are at a very interesting place regarding “trend reports” with spotlights on multiple areas of fashion ~ consumer behavior, online retail, industry timelines, sustainability, economic uncertainty, and cultural appropriation being a few. As daunting as this all seems, each of us has the ability to influence what we would like to see from the fashion industry. Of course, this will take time, which requires patience.
My part in this process relies on my ability to think laterally. Business models value linear thinking because it is a process driven by logic. Lateral thinking spawns ideas and solutions that can only be visualized by making leaps in processes. Establishing a wardrobe based on specific requirements has been upended since those requirements are no longer at play. Does that render the wardrobe unnecessary? Not at all. What it requires is being able to dissect what is there and show the value in a new way. I define this as “deconstruction of elements.” What most people need right now is a fresh point of view since they have been in an unconscious state of how they use their clothing. When it pertains to clothing, I am always in a conscious state.
I am quite certain there may be those who will choose athleisure as their fall uniform, but my instincts tell me we will be inspired by those whose energy resonates the strongest. Innovation must continue to be our country’s greatest asset, where creative minds resist conformity and demand to be seen. There will be those who logically ask, “Why do I need outfits? I’m not going to see anyone.” My logic then counters with the boom of the tree falling in an empty forest, “Who were you dressing for before?”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dressed in a manner of how clothing makes me feel and thus have encouraged my clients to utilize clothing as a mindset tool. There’s an energy that is transferred to our psyche when we feel good in what we are wearing. And when we are not feeling so good, clothing can become our protective armor that gets us through a tough day until we can retreat into the comfort of a variety of leisure style options. Our existence may be substantiated by how others see us, but it’s only how we know ourselves that defines us.
This fall is most likely going to be full of more uncertainty. Putting a plan in place will help by offering a sense of preparedness. I’ve found that in difficult times I must remember how to bend in order not break. COVID-19 is something we are all dealing with and adjusting to in our unique ways. The bright spot is that we are aware this time and know what we are capable of, which is more than we knew we were on March 12th. There’s a grit to age and experience where novel viruses generate novel solutions. We will adapt and overcome!