Life under Lockdown

Long story short. I’ve been away, I’ve put on weight, and I’m having a major overhaul. I’ve dropped a few lines about what I’ve been up to below the line in the Off Topic section. Please forgive the stream of consciousness, but there’s a lot to unpack.

I dare say a lot of what else has changed will become clearer in conversation. Throughout this whole period, my inclination has been to leave the wardrobe alone. Let it work like a muscle. See what happens, when it all revolves around a few key pieces, barely planned.

Over summer, I zeroed in on a black asymmetric knit dress from MM6. Oversized tees, with prints and without. A pair of men’s jeans from Dame Viv’s Anglomania, acquired on a pilgrimage to the World’s End homestead in Chelsea, to see where it all began. These are jeans only in the loosest “indigo twill and rivets” sense of the word. Any resemblance to classic denim ends with the deconstructed jacquard weave, alive with unraveling threads, which my state of mind demands I tug at like a fretful toddler. They look good with Scarpa Mojitos, the one sneaker to rule them all.

Over winter, culottes comme des garçons, worn with knee boots or Fluevog platforms. At peak lockdown, when +J landed at Uniqlo, I perused by appointment in an almost empty shop, and came home with the Jil Sander quilted jacket I’ve always wanted, and two pairs of chinos, one navy, one taupe.

Also, new eyewear, much like the old, but softer round the edges. A lovely waxed cotton jacket from a closing down sale.

My hair is longer than it’s ever been, and now I see my natural colour for the first time in years. Sometimes I wear a headscarf. But still, I am only putting on my clothes. It is not the same thing as getting dressed.

I learned to make my own pasta. Then I put on weight and become an unapologetic mess. Nothing fits the way it used to. Some of it no longer fits at all. Remarkably, other things seem to fit better with the extra curvature.

The purge is like catharsis. There are a number of casualties, the less said the better. A great many changes to how I see the world. A different lens, with different contexts.

Suddenly, a whole lot of things are making sense. I begin to see a leaner, meaner closet, the closet I’ve been working towards all these years. Old lady avant garde, for the woman with no more of those precious f***s to give.

So nice to see you all again!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Aquamarine replied 2 years ago

    Oh, thank you for sharing! You’ve encapsulated your experience succinctly! What a strange time it’s been.

    I too put on weight as I made homemade pasta, became a mixologist, and put together way too many cheese-laden charcuterie boards for noshing. Thankfully—and prodded by my yearly physical where my numbers were not especially good—I’ve started shedding the weight by eating more mindfully and exercising a lot more. I don’t regret the past—after all, I’ve leaned a lot, and not just about fancy cocktails!—but I am ready to move onward.

  • Ginger replied 2 years ago

    It's so good to hear from you!

  • replied 2 years ago

    Oh hi there ! What a great read to start the day - from one of my old fav forum people :)

  • JAileen replied 2 years ago

    Old lady avant garde - I like that, speaking as a vintage person myself.

    I put on weight making bread, and having an evening cocktail.  At first, we thought this would just be a few short weeks or months.  But, of course, it dragged on and on and on.  My clothes don’t fit either.  But I bought new clothes, mostly from Macy’s, so I would have something to wear.  I saved Macy’s!  I haven’t purged because I still have a tiny hope that I might lose the weight.  But even our renewed efforts at getting more exercise were thwarted by heavy and hazardous smoke drifting over from California.  Talk about a perfect storm!

    As bad as our experience has been, it could have been so much worse.  

    People have had far worse experiences during this pandemic - getting sick, dying, losing their jobs, losing their homes.  None of these happened, so I am grateful for that.

  • Tanya replied 2 years ago

    So nice to see you here again! I enjoyed reading your closet musings very much.

    The pandemic has been really unprecedented. I too have put on weight, then lost it, then put it on again. There may be a few more changes until the pandemic influence diminishes. I have always enjoyed baking, but lately have challenged myself with pretty elaborate multilayer mousse cakes with mirror glaze (“entremet” desserts).

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    It’s been a challenging time for so many of us, and it certainly sounds like you’ve been experiencing it too. It’s wonderful to see you again though. I hear you on overindulgence and body changes. I’m back down to where I was pre-pandemic, weight-wise, but could stand to buckle down further and get more consistent with healthy eating habits.

    Like you, I’ve embraced new eyewear and really like my new frames. I’ve also tolerated my new hair color, now that I’m dye-free for the first time in many years. My asymmetric haircut and blue streaks are gone, and I’m cultivating a bit of a shag haircut but it never quite looks as cool on me as it does on the cute young women models and rock stars who wear it so well. Nonetheless I’m going to keep tweaking the cut and see if I can figure out the styling to get it how I want it.

    I hope you’ll post some outfits! Even if you feel like you’re just putting on clothes (I know the feeling!), I have a hunch that you are still displaying your inimitable sense of inherent style.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    SOOO nice to hear from you, Rio :)

    We can all relate to your pandemic feelings about your wardrobe and life! All of us are going through something - big or small - and everyone has developed a "roll with the punches" skill set. Patience is a virtue, and onward we go! 

    GOOD JOB on the closet edit. It will be fun to see your natural long hair! I can't wait to see it.....and your fab curvature.

    I am very consistent. I am still a dressy Trendy Classic who enjoys colours and patterns. Most things are just the same in terms of my style, except for:

    • No more tinted moisturizer. I am on Team Naked Face with eye make-up.
    • No more lipstick. Team Lip Balm!
    • I wear sneakers a lot of the time - and love it!

    I also needed MAJOR eyesight correction, and have just committed to two new pairs of specs. I turned 50 last year (2020), and need to celebrate properly at some point....

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Too funny. We’ve all been cooking and mixing cocktails. Who’d a’ thunk it? :-D

    Lisap, Ginger, 
    so nice to see you both again! It’s good to be back.

    Aquamarine, Tanya, 
    the trick is to not lose sight of the possibility of body confidence. As long as we remember how it feels to be fit, we can get back there, right? 

    ain’t that the truth. We are all up against it right now, but as JAileen points out, it could all have been so much worse. And consistency is good. It’s in times like these that we find out who we really are. Janet, kind of you to say so, but I came very close to letting it all go. 

    My selfie set-up is woefully inadequate right now, but I will try to post some pics if only to see what works or not. As for the eyewear, are we all in varifocals yet? Looking forward to seeing everyone’s new specs!

  • Kate replied 2 years ago

    How good to hear from you again. I was wondering just the other day how you were faring. 

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    I made the change to progressive lenses two years ago and love them. I don’t need readers or any correction for closeup vision, but the progressives allow me to see distance as well as closeup (ie, driving and being able to see navigation on my phone) without taking glasses on and off.

    Here are pics from a little over a week ago when I picked up my new frames. My hair now has a lot of grey in it, but I think these car selfies emphasize it. It looks darker than this in the mirror.

    Pic 3 is a hairstyle I like — but I’d not wear as long in the length, and I prefer a little more length in the bangs. My hair is so wavy that my bangs never quite behave the way I want them to unless humidity is very low.

  • MsMaven replied 2 years ago

    Happy to see you back. I look forward to finding out more about what you have learned and how you will deal with the new realities of life post-pandemic.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Kate, how very odd. Must have been around the moment I was looking at a pile of ill fitting clothing and thinking I should get back onto YLF. Synchronicity is a strange wonderful thing. 

    Speaking of strange and wonderful, Janet, wow! Just wow. Seriously, seriously cool! And too right about the shorter bangs. I wish I could get my hair to do that, but no dice.

  • kkards replied 2 years ago

    So nice to see you again…what a long strange trip its been, i just hope that we are nearing our destination…it sounds like you’ve at least you’ve found what you want to wear when we get there. 

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    I am so shook and delighted to hear from you. I literally just thought about you yesterday and wondered how you are doing. I feel like I manifested you (yes the world revolves around me ;) ).
    Anyhow, so glad to hear you are hanging in there and your pared down wardrobe sounds wonderful. Isn't old lady avant garde the goal? Seriously, sometimes it takes a little tap at rock bottom to emerge even stronger and better. So happy to hear from you, did I mention that?

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    A leaner, meaner closet is a great motto. I love what I’m hearing… and want to see your hair :)

  • lyn67 replied 2 years ago

    Great to see you back! I'm dying to see the old lady avantgarde in action, please post- don't really have the right ambience for it but  I would really be a fan!
    I always loved your amazing (may I say eccentic(-to me, anyway:-)) style-- do you  still design clothes? 
    I too went back and forth within putting on and loosing weight/gaining in some physical strenght and fitness this 2 years during pandemic and so was touched by your phrase here:"Then I put on weight and become an unapologetic mess. Nothing fits the way it used to. Some of it no longer fits at all!!!" But loved to read the final conclusion givind all of us some hope, too:"Remarkably, other things seem to fit better with the extra curvature." 
    Yes, there could be "a lot to unpack"....but you already did the first big step  "The purge is like catharsis."
    At least you're over it now...I'm still facing it....haha!:-))
    Would love to be an early reader of your novel, too!

  • Katerina replied 2 years ago

    So glad to see you again!
    Thank you for sharing this - it’s been a weird and stressful period. Your wardrobe plans sound great!
    My wardrobe, on the other hand, is not getting leaner and meaner any time soon. Much of it not worn during almost two years. Trying to dress while WFH. Not always happening - merely putting on clothes some days. I am not leaner either, only meaner probably :-) But that is not necessarily a bad thing?

  • replied 2 years ago

    "I am only putting on my clothes" - coming back to say that this phrase has been in my head since you wrote it.  I feel this way.

  • Gaylene replied 2 years ago

    old lady avantgarde has become a popular moniker around here as well—at least from what I’ve seen whenever I’ve ventured out to catch up with my friends (all masked, vaxxed, and wind blown). Who knew it would take a pandemic to loosen the fashion shackles we had imposed on ourselves…

    Nice to hear that there was another admirer of Jil Saunder’s collaboration with Uniqlo this past winter. Her Uniqlo pieces were the perfect pickmeup for my lockdown wardrobe!


  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    I like your line about putting on clothes vs getting dressed. I too have had those stages where putting on clothes (and I can't even remember what) has been the only thing on my radar.

    I now mostly "get dressed", with exception of days doing household chores - I do plan what I wear and enjoy my clothes.

    Looking forward to seeing you around the forum (and yes I used to be kiwigal but I decided the patriotism and gal part both didn't feel right for me any more).

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    So good to see you here again.  We are still pretty much locked down with about 20 people dying in the county each day yet and many post-
    phoned funerals and weddings and celebrations, it is a very strange time.  JAileen is right.  It could be worse.  Good for you purging your wardrobe and embracing things as they are.

  • Bijou replied 2 years ago

    What a delight to read your post, full of honesty. It has been a tough couple of years. Those four key items in your wardrobe show that your amazing style is still intact. 

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Thanks so much for the warm welcome back. If I’m a bit slow to turn things around, it’s because I really don’t know what to say.

    MsMaven, I think I must have cross posted on my last reply. The key learnings are so deep and profound they sound utterly banal if I try to explain them ;)

    Katerina: dressing to WFH is something I am trying to crack just now. Watch this space!

    Gaylene: if it wasn’t for +J I might have lost it altogether. Three from last summer’s sweats collection have been lockdown essentials. 

    lisap, Sal: but it can be useful to let it work like a muscle for a while, right? Right? Trying to be optimistic here, but I really think the break has had its benefits. 

    Joy: hasn’t it been bizarre? And yes, I’m quite fatalistic like that. 

    Bijou: thanks for saying so, much appreciated. It felt like resignation at the time, but I love those jeans all the more for having lived in them for a while. 

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    oh shoot! I missed a load! 

    shevia, rachylou
    : fantastic to see you both, caught you in the other thread, and I’m pretty sure it was me manifesting you so there :P

    kkards: not sure we’re quite there yet, but I’ve been finding a bit more clarity lately. At least enough to clear the decks. 

    Lyn67: whatever happens, I’m determined not to get bogged down in body image issues. Just gonna dress the body I have ;)

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